Two facilitators conduct an session using a Smartboard at a teacher appreciation breakfast in Midrand. Picture: Khanyisile Ngcobo.
Johannesburg - Local teachers were celebrated a day ahead of World Teachers Day with an appreciation breakfast held in Midrand on Wednesday.

The breakfast saw experts, teachers and officials converge to commemorate teachers and the role they play within the education sector. 

The event also included a discussion and reflection on the Wired for Life campaign, started by the Gauteng Department of Education in 2015, and the role it played in introducing pupils to technology.

Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi was expected to give a keynote address but was a no-show at the event. 

Chief executive officer of VastraTech Candice du Preez, was however present to lead the discussion on the impact of the paperless system in schools. 

Vastratech partnered with the department and SMART to bring the programme to Gauteng schools. 

Du Preez spoke of Vastratech's involvement in the campaign, saying the technology company's focus had been on teacher development.

"We trained over 4800 teachers on basic Information and Communication Technology (ICT) skills and, more specifically, on how to use technology in the classroom. 

"Today, we have teachers who've since grasped the technology and embraced it while others are still in the early phases."

She also spoke on the impact the paperless system had on learning, saying it had resulted in better attendance and more excitement among the pupils.

This was echoed by Boitumelong Secondary School principal Sesi Makena, who spoke of how their school overcame some of the challenges presented by the paperless system. 

Boitumelong was one of the pilot schools for the paperless classroom project. 

"While distractions have been around, even before these gadgets came along, we've taught our pupils to switch off their tablets until the teacher tells them to switch it on," she said. 

Makena added that the paperless system had also yielded positive results, with the pass rate increasing by 15% and around 15 distinctions in mathematics and science.  

Other issues discussed at the breakfast were the theft of the tablets and the impact thereof as well as introducing the system to lower grades.

Wired for Life is a programme that aims to provide every pupil with a tablet, every teacher with a laptop, and every classroom with a SMART Board.

IOL