August 23, 2013
Only 4 195 schools out of 24 453 schools were Information and Communication Technology (ICT) connected in 2012/2013 for teaching and learning purposes, it was revealed at Basic Education Portfolio Committee Meeting this week.
The national policy on ICT in education was detailed in White Paper 7, published in 2004. The goal of the policy was that "Every South African learner in the general and further education training bands will be ICT capable (that is, use ICTs confidently and creatively to help develop the skills and knowledge they need to achieve personal goals and to be full participants in the global community) by 2013."
The Department admitted yesterday that not one deadline contained within its ICT implementation strategy had been met.
The Department of Basic Education (DBE), furthermore, revealed that:
the number of schools with ICT infrastructure, specifically for teaching and learning, has declined from 26.5% in 2002 to 24% in 2011 (when the last assessment was done);
of 492 Dinaledi schools - showcase Maths and Science schools - 223 are without internet connectivity; and
only 32% of our teachers have been trained in basic computer skills; only 3% of Limpopo teachers and 9% of Eastern Cape teachers have received such training.
This is extremely concerning given the need for computer literacy skills for learners in finding jobs when they leave school. In a changing, modern economy, this could be the difference between success and failure. It could also be an opportunity for learners who are faced with under-performing teachers to access the information themselves.
The DBE acknowledged their failure before the committee, and a revised implementation plan is being presented to HEDCOM (Committee of Heads of Education Departments) on 27 August. I have submitted questions requesting the details of this plan. We trust that it will result in truly e-literate school leavers.
In the DA-run Western Cape, schools are showing the opposite trend, with 96% of schools having connectivity. This compares to just 3.2% of schools in the Eastern Cape, where, clearly, the political will is lacking.
The technology is there. The benefits are obvious. The private sector is fully involved. The political will must now be shown. Acting Deputy Director General, Mr Mathanzima Mweli, indicates that "computer literacy is seen as a luxury by many". We need to remember why we educate learners - so that they may become employable, maximise their use of opportunities, and contribute to society. Few people in today's world can achieve this without being e-literate.