South Africa: E- Learning takes off in township school

Mabopane – Learning and teaching at the Abel T Motshoane School in Mabopane, North of Pretoria has been transformed with the mobile e-learning infrastructure.

The school is the first in the country to have this wireless network technology.
Entering the school’s Grade 8 classroom, learners are engrossed in their laptops, which are connected to microphones and earphones.
Their teacher is able to give them instructions via their earphones, from where she is sitting with her own laptop.
Within few weeks of e-learning, these learners have learnt how to search for news bulletins from various online news organisations and look for information from search engines.

The youngsters’ inquisitiveness has also assisted them to find a way of listening to music and watching videos.

Stanley Kekana, one of the Grade 8 learners told BuaNews he used the laptops to work on his class assignments.

“I’m really enjoying using the computer, and we are able to get any information about anything in the world. It’s easy to find information for our assignments and to find out more about our surroundings now,” he said.

Tsholofelo Baloyi is one of the six teachers who have been contracted for a year to teach these learners. She and her colleagues are former students at the school and are happy to be involved in the project.

“It is a great opportunity not only for the school, but for us as well because we receive continuous training and skills on technology and teaching,” she said.

This technology uses the WiMax wireless broadband, “the only wireless standard that has the ability to deliver true broadband speeds and help make the vision of pervasive connectivity a reality”.

The features of the classmate PC include full networking capabilities, Microsoft Windows XP operating system and access to rich educational content.

The pilot project which is a result of a Public Private Partnership (PPP) has been successfully dealt with digital exclusion.

Government has partnered with information and communication technology (ICT) companies such as IBM, Intel South Africa, Microsoft South Africa, Pinnacle Micro Systems and Telkom Foundations.

Deputy President Phumzile-Mlambo Ngcuka was there to launch the pilot project as it is a milestone in terms if ICT in schools.

“This is the highlight for us as we seek to deliver quality education. The way we learn is bound to change for ever,” she said.

The Deputy President noted that the country had shortage of ICT skills, saying that technology was important for policy, giving solution to the country’s challenges and to better the lives of the people.

“It is the vision of this government to ensure that every school, child and teacher access the ICT technology,” she said.

She further commended the commitment by the private sector for making ICT roll out to all learners a priority.

“I’m encouraged by the partnership and responsibility by the private sector for their investment in human capital,” she said, adding that access to ICT means access to development.

Gauteng Education MEC Angie Motshekga said the technology was critical for economic and social growth.

“It also provides the lifelong learning opportunities,” she said.

She urged the community to protect them against vandalism and theft, and calling for teachers and learners to work in honesty for the sustainability of the project.

The MEC explained that the wireless laptops were made in such a way that they would be rendered invalid should they leave the school premises, emphasising that they were specifically made to work within the schools premises. – BuaNews