Panyaza’s blues revealed
Gauteng Education MEC, PanyazaLesufi’s dream and wishes of a paperless classroom is fast diminishing, becoming a flip-flop and a miscarriageof promises in most schools in Soweto.
His much publicized bold e- learning project pronouncement earmarked for public schools matric learners mostly in the townships and peri urban areas was launched in 2015.
This inventiveness “one child, one tablet, one teacher, one laptop and one classroom and one interactive board
has becomeLesufi’sfavourite, swanking slogan and parting shot in most of his dialogues at media briefings, business platforms and the Legislature.
According to his department, these are means of ensuring e-learning is available in all the Gauteng province’s classrooms.
Furthermore the department is on record that, it’s modernizing and improving public education by ensuring the rollout of broadband infrastructure to schools in the province, including converting classrooms and the distribution of e-learning devices and gadgets.
The department also divulged in its latest Annual Performance Plan that ICT was introduced to create a Tech-enabled teaching and learning environment to improve education outcomes with a focus on learner performance and attainment.
In additionthe plan also states that, the use of technology will enhance teaching quality by giving both teachers and learners access to extensive learning material through the use of smart boards, tablet devices and smart software in the classroom.
However,an informal snap survey conducted by this publication in some Soweto schoolsincluding the historic Morris Isaacson high school, found that some schools have not received the promised tablets.
Those who did receive these gadgets are faced with no wifi-connectionsat schools, some of the tablets are faulty, they reject sim cards as a results most learners are just using them for playing music and taking pictures.
In two sets of questions sent to the department, Steve Mabona, Department Spokesman, told this publication thatAccording to their records, all secondary no-fee paying schools have received tablets.
Contrary to what this reporter found. He said,the department can confirm that all the distributed tablets are loaded with freely available content provided by the department including supplementary reading material and previous question papers.
“However, with the internet connection the department is working with the Department of E-Governance to roll out Gauteng Broadband Network (GBN) to schools as per mandate.
“We are currently doing a mid-year retrieval on all faulty tablets. So far, only 1% of the devices have been returned for the repair process which will take place during the school holidays. We are also busy with the retrieval process to determine an exact number of lost tablets,” he said,” he said.
Mabona also added that they haven’t received any calls from Morris Isaacson regarding faulty tablets except for the shortages the school has experienced on delivery of tablets and the matter has since been resolved.
But KhumoRamulifho, Democratic Alliance shadow MEC told this publication that he has asked for tender documents for this massive project to interrogate the tender specifications and the education department has refused to share this information.
“ We applied through Public Access to Information Act but they flatly refused. We believe that this project is a failure because tablets and smart boards have no connection,” he said.
Ramulifho also pointed out that this is the same problem experienced by the much maligned Gauteng Online.
“There is no utilization strategy where they can monitor which schools are using the smart boards and tablets. Some of the tablets and smart boards are stolen and not recovered as they lack security devise. Many teachers aren’t trained to use these gadgets and it makes life difficult to implement.
“Lack of connectivity is huge problem, many tablets and smart boards aren’t working and due to lack of utilization strategy, the department isn’t aware of which schools have no access, this is despite the fact that the province talk about broadband,”Ramulifho added.
Some learners from Morris Isaacson who spoke to this publication on condition of anonymity told this reporter that these tablets are just worthless and a wasteful expenditure.