Seven schools in Tembisa in Ekurhuleni are stepping bravely into the digital future tomorrow morning.
Briefing the media at Boitumelong Secondary School this afternoon Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said: “I’m signing the death warrant of the chalk, duster and chalkboard in Gauteng. We are moving on with the times and we are moving to better things.”
Gauteng’s school year starts tomorrow and pupils at Boitumelong along with those from six other schools in the area will start using tablets – which they received today and an interactive board.
The tablets, Lesufi said, will be loaded with textbooks and learning content. Pupils will also be able to download other learning material, he said, adding that they will receive training on how to use the gadgets.
“The Big Switch On Pilot project is the first step taken by the Gauteng Department of Education in modernising public education and responding to new education imperatives for quality education,” Lesufi explained.
Responding to questions about security, Lesufi said the gadgets have been fitted with state-of-the-art tracking technology which will enable them to be recovered in less than 24 hours should they be stolen.
He also said it would be pointless for anyone to steal the tablets since they can only be used for educational purposes.
All high schools in the province will go paperless by 2019, he said, adding that the project – which is much cheaper than procuring hardcopy textbooks – will cost about R17 billion to roll out.
All the seven schools have been equipped with high-tech maths, science and communication centres.
“You will never accuse me of failure to deliver textbooks, you will now accuse me of failure to download.”
As a result of the project, Boitumelong alone received 1 000 more applications this year than last,” he said.
“Parents are now taking their kids out of the Model C schools in town and they are bringing them here. I’ve said it over and over that no kid should be disadvantaged because of where they were born. The Irish coffee format of education is going to go out of Gauteng. No kid should suffer poor education because of where they stay.”
Deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga and other dignitaries will officially launch the programme tomorrow.