Gauteng education MEC still committed to “one laptop per teacher, one tablet per child” project

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Gauteng MEC for Education Panyaza Lesufi has confirmed that his department is committed to providing every child in the region access to education via a tablet computer –  but it may not be within the next five years.

Concerns had been raised after a briefing on Sunday to the School Governing Bodies for the area, in which the MEC detailed the department’s full five year plan for investing in schools in the area. While ICTs are mentioned several times were mentioned several times in the presentation, exact plans for paper-free classrooms beyond the first five schools were somewhat vague.

According to the presentation, which has been published online:

  • We will introduce mobile devices like tablets into schools to distribute learning content
  • ICT infrasture and equipment to schools, namely iPads/tablets/desktops that will be utilised by learners in the classroom

However, in an interview with today, Lesufi confirmed that the goal of one tablet per child is still in place.

Lesufi initially announced that he wanted an all-digital Gauteng back in July. when he gave a speech this morning at the national launch of the Ukufunda Virtual School at the Sci-Bono Discovery Centre in Newtown, Johannesburg.

“Next year when we open,” Lesufi said, five schools will be tablet only for grades 8-10. He also added that the plan wasn’t just to allow children access to tablets in schools, but that pupils would be able to take their tablets home to use and continue with learning.

The actual timeline for tablet deployments to schools is still rather vague, however. Suppliers of digital textbooks and hardware that we’ve spoken to area still unclear as to the department’s procurement plans for next year. Despite having recently promised one tablet per child within two years, the MEC didn’t give a specific date for completion of the project today.

“In our lifetime, one teacher will have one laptop and one learner will have one tablet in Gauteng,” Lesufi said.

The first five schools haven’t been confirmed, but will likely include Northcliff High, Fourways High and Sutherland High.