The Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services, Dr. Siyabonga Cwele (MP) opened a state-of-the-art R400 000.00 ICT Lab at the Umlazi Comprehensive Technical High School.
Installed by Sita as part of its ongoing CSI activities, which are aimed at bridging the digital divide, the computer lab will empower both learners and teachers as well as members of the local community. Sita has deployed appropriate infrastructure as well as skilling up the teachers and learners in the use of ICT to enable technology to be integrated into day to day teaching and learning.
The state of the art lab is equipped with 33 computers with a broadband speed of 15Megabits per second and it’s able to connect to other such labs in the country, allowing students and teachers to exchange knowledge and information in real time. This, says Minister Cwele, puts it above the speed mandated by the SA Connect broadband policy, which aims to have all government departments connected by 10Mbps lines by 2020, including schools.
Installing labs and connections at schools is part of the connectivity and digitisation project by government, the South Africa Connect that will see modern fibre telecommunications infrastructure rolled out nationwide, starting with the most difficult to reach places – schools in rural areas, which lack infrastructure, he said. Pilots are being conducted in eight rural areas before rolling out nationwide, with the aim of connecting every classroom in every school by 2020.
Schools, the Minister said, are not only getting labs, but each lab will be able to connect to all the others, meaning learners can access lessons from teachers at other schools, and engage and interact with teachers and learners all over the country, as well as have access to the global internet.
The State IT Agency chairperson, Jerry Vilakazi said in his address that government has made its expectation of SITA clear – to ensure that connectivity is rolled out and used to empower every single South African.
In line with this mandate, the annual Government Technology (GovTech) conference is utilised as a platform to contribute to socio-economic development in the province in which the conference is hosted. As the core focus area of the CSI strategy is education, training and skills development, SITA invites post-graduate students to attend the conference to gain exposure to ICT. Thirty students are attending this year as full delegates, in support of the SITA CSI strategy and Sourcing & Development Strategy.
GovTech is being held at Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre in Durban until Wednesday 28 October and is expected to attract 2000 delegates. Now in its 10th year, GovTech is designed to enable public and private sector stakeholders and delegates to work together to identify new and creative ways to mainstream ICT solutions to South Africans.