Since the start of 2015, South Africa has begun to introduce technology into various schools around the country. This paperless education system aims to modernise current systems used in schools.

ICT has revolutionised the way we live and do business. The economies of the 21st century have become increasingly knowledge-based economies, meaning the acquiring of new skills is critical for business success and economic growth.

The increased usage of education technology or ‘EdTech’ will put South Africa on the path to gaining these essential skills.

The Big Switch On
Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, supported by Gauteng Premier David Makhura and Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi, launched the new paperless education system pilot project, “The Big Switch On,” at Boitumelong Secondary School in Sedibeng Section, Tembisa.

The seven schools in the pilot project will receive state-of-the-art internet connection and each pupil will receive a tablet, turning ordinary schools into “classrooms of the future”, according to the provincial Department of Education.

“Education is at the core of our government’s strategy for improving the lives of all our people. It is an instrument for achieving social cohesion and national unity” Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa

This “switch on” does not only benefit the future population in South Africa, the children currently using this new system of learning are loving every second of it! Most of these children, having never used a computer before, now have access to a world of information. Access to all this new information instils a desire to work harder and achieve more.

“It enables educators and learners to access resources that exist beyond the walls of the classroom. Indeed, it enables them to access resources from the other side of the globe,” Ramaphosa said.

“I do not think I will ever miss a day of school again and I will never have a reason to fail science or maths ever,” said Pearl Mokoena, in Grade 10.

Cost, Security & Support
As you would imagine, the cost to achieve such an ambitious new system in schools is no cheap feat. That being said, migrating all Gauteng schools to the digital system is estimated to cost R17-billion over the next five years.

The tablets have been fitted with tracking devices in case one is misplaced by a student/teacher or is stolen. Surveillance cameras and two permanently employed security officers will help maintain a high level of security in each school.

Programmed for educational purposes only, the tablets are pre-loaded with lessons. Permanent IT specialists will be on site to help the teachers and pupils with the new system.

Ramaphosa had this to say when talking about business innovation,

“Information communication technology (ICT) had revolutionised our lives and the way we did business. The economies of the 21st century were rapidly becoming knowledge-based economies.
Technology, the internet, a multi-skilled workforce, innovation and collaboration are critical to the success of the knowledge economy. To thrive in the 21st century, we need to acquire new skills and be able to adapt to a rapidly changing work environment. One of the factors constraining economic growth in South Africa is the relative shortage of e-skills.”

Ramaphosa realizes that in order for businesses to thrive and innovate in this tech-focused age, South Africa needs to seriously boost its e-skills.

In a World Economic Forum report, South Africa’s global e-readiness ranking had dropped from 47th place in 2007 to 70th in 2013.

Ramaphosa highlighted the importance of e-learning when he said,

“It gives educators and learners access to the world. Importantly, it also gives them the skills that are needed to succeed in this world. If our economy is to grow, if the lives of our people are to be improved, if a business is to thrive, then we need more of this.”

If we continue to focus on improving the standard of education with the use of edtech, I can’t help but see a bright future for the economy of South Africa.


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