South African education is fraught with challenges. Teachers and learners struggle due to limited tools and resources, lowering standards. Decreasing the national pass requirements to 35% is not the answer, and it has a ‘knock on’ effect as matriculants face the challenge of obtaining entrance to university. Even when they do ‘make the grade’, the ‘gap’ between school and university standards becomes apparent, making it more difficult to pass. Action is required from corporate South Africa to assist government in its efforts to improve the level of education in South Africa. Corporates need to start thinking and investing in their future workforce to ensure that South Africa as a nation remains globally competitive.
This means raising standards and re-instilling pride in learning with an attitude of excellence. Corporate South Africa needs to equip the youth with the tools to improve education. These tools should help diminish unemployment, and ensure competent graduates are employed to strengthen our economy. Technology solutions enables these sought after outcomes. But, government cannot go at it alone. Corporate South Africa Investment (CSI) is needed.
Incorporating investment into education technology into an organisation’s CSI initiatives is vital for improving education, as it benefits organisations directly looking for prospective employees. Simply donating money is no longer enough. Education technology initiatives need to be carefully planned by specialists, applied correctly within schools, and accompanied by continuous teacher training initiatives to empower educators to embrace new methods of teaching and inspire learners to further their education.
Despite ongoing efforts to incorporate technology into schools, what is lacking is a solution that is specifically designed for educational facilities. The Critical Links Education Appliance is the world’s first purpose-built education server, a ‘school in a box’, enabling up to 3000 students to be connected on a single server, delivering an enriching educational experience with one-on-one e-learning to develop skills in the 21st century.
As a holistic solution, the Education Appliance addresses planning and implementation challenges. All of the required tools are built into the central server and students and teachers need only a basic end-point device to access this. The rugged Classmate PCs included have been designed to withstand the tough school environment. Intricate security has also been incorporated into the laptop style devices to ensure devices, if stolen, are rendered useless. The Education Appliance, together with stimulating customised educational content developed by local partner LearnThings, offers a complete interactive learning solution that engages and empowers learners.
The Education Appliance is also a cost effective solution enabling any classroom to become a computer lab quickly and easily with a centralised administration facility that enables all sites to be remotely managed for ease of maintenance. For a minimal investment any corporate can deliver a full ‘classroom in a box’ complete with a server, 30 Classmate PCs and WiFi connectivity. The Education Appliance lets teachers create dynamic, up-to-date lessons and allows learners to have convenient 24-hour access to learning resources.
Sponsoring a classroom means businesses can help schools access technology, teachers to become passionate, and inspire learners to partake in their education and their future.
Government has a roadmap for ICT implementation, but this must be augmented by corporate efforts. The process needs to be galvanised if South Africa’s education is to be improved. For this we need corporates and business to pitch in and spend their CSI money wisely, investing in learners, their future employees, and the economy as a whole.
Paul Fick — Jasco Enterprise Divisional Managing Director