Department admits it won’t meet e-learning target

2013-09-01 06:01

The department of basic education has admitted that it will fail to meet its target of implementing e-learning in all schools across South Africa by the end of the year.

In 2004 the then department of education, which was responsible for both basic and higher education, released a white paper that aimed to implement e-learning in all schools across the country. The plan was also for schools to develop the ability to impart information and communication technology (ICT) skills to all pupils by the end of 2014.

But statistics released by the department in Parliament reveal that only 6 107 of the country’s 25 870 schools were ICT enabled.

The department, which was briefing the parliamentary portfolio committees on basic education and communication, revealed that:

» The proportion of schools with ICT infrastructure for teaching and learning had increased from 26.5% in 2002 to 31% in 2011, when the survey was done.

» Of the 492 Dinaledi schools (maths and science schools), 269 had internet connectivity.

» Only 132 884 of South Africa’s 413 067 teachers had been trained in basic computer skills and ICT equipment by 2011.

» Limpopo and the Eastern Cape’s teachers were the worst off, with only 3% and 9% of them having received such training respectively.

» Gauteng (63%) and the Western Cape (79%) had the highest number of schools that had implemented e-learning and installed ICT infrastructure.

Phil Mnisi, the department’s e-learning director, told the committees that officials had experienced problems when trying to implement e-learning. He listed the biggest challenges as being:

» the lack of funding for ICT projects;

» lack of staff trained in ICT;

» limited internet connectivity in rural areas; and

» the high cost of connectivity.

The department, he said, had come up with a new ICT plan and was busy refining it before it would be sent to the director-general for approval.

The department’s deputy director-general of curriculum, policy, support and monitoring, Matanzima Mweli, said the latest version of the plan would be sent to Minister Angie Motshekga by Monday.

Thereafter, it would be sent to all MECs for comment before being presented to the director-general for approval.

“The challenges faced by ICT in schools are the same as those faced by the entire country regarding the roll-out of broadband infrastructure”, Mweli said, adding that new deadlines would be available in the new plan.

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