Licence delay prevents KZN pupils from using PCs

2012-03-08 00:00

PUPILS in KwaZulu-Natal taking computer applications technology (CAT) as part of the new curriculum have not been able to do any practicals since the beginning of the year, because the Education Department has not paid the licence fees of R450 per computer for MS Office 2007.

An informed source in the department said teachers were in despair because the end of the first quarter was only two weeks away and they and their learners had not been able to work on the computers.

Fingers are being pointed at department head Dr Nkosinathi Sishi, who has apparently been dragging his feet for months about approving the payments.

Matters were made even worse when CAT subject advisors were due to meet in Johannesburg two weeks ago to discuss the grade 11 curriculum. The KZN advisors were apparently already on their way to the airport when they were informed by SMS that they should turn back, as the department had never bought their air tickets.

There is also serious concern about many teachers in the province who have not been properly trained in the new grade 10 curriculum introduced this year.

The department failed to organise the workshops in time and the training was repeatedly postponed. Negotiations then followed with the trade unions for them to do the training.

However, there were some complaints that the districts did not inform their teachers timeously about the workshops, which meant that many of them missed the sessions.

Said the source: “It’s simply frightening what’s happening here.

“The subject advisors, who were supposed to have conducted the training, had to compile programmes for the trade unions, and some of the trainers were doing training in subjects that they themselves had never taught at school.”

A subject advisor who declined not to be named for fear of victimisation said defective training could be disastrous as teachers wouldn’t know what to teach and to assess, and that would be reflected in the province’s results.

It was also disclosed that several officials in district offices who are also field workers and had to present workshops at schools did not have access to computers. Some are unable to compile material for schools or supply documents electronically.

The Education Department said all grade 10 teachers were trained following an agreement with the trade unions. Training of grade 11 teachers would be finalised towards the end of the month.

The department said its budget was increased and that more than a thousand computers had been ordered, which will be delivered to districts.

Although schools have confirmed that they still do not have the CAT licences, the department said payment for the licences was processed in January.

“It’s no longer an issue.”

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