Govt launches Operation Phakisa in education to fast track “ineffective” ICT deployment

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Government today launched Operation Phakisa in ICT Education, an initiative which it believes will help fast track the deployment of internet connectivity and elearning resources to all public schools in South Africa.

“Operation Phakisa in ICT Education is anticipated to, amongst other things, address the need to train and prepare teachers to integrate ICT in their classrooms and change their teaching practices aligned to the ICT resources,” the Presidency said in a statement.

The theme for Operation Phakisa in ICT Education is “ICT in Education: Leveraging ICTs to improve Basic Education”.

President Jacob Zuma was at the launch held at the Birchwood Hotel and Conference Centre in Boksburg, to take the wraps off the initiative and deliver the keynote address.

During his speech, Zuma admitted that the process of connecting South African schools has been slow and ineffective, but that around 49% of schools are reported to have access to connectivity.

If this number is indeed true, then government’s achievements are in line with the South Africa Connect broadband draft policy, which set a target of having 50% of schools given internet access with 10Mbps speeds, by 2016.

A screenshot of the SA Connect National Broadband Policy targets for schools
A screenshot of the SA Connect National Broadband Policy targets for schools

First on the initiative’s agenda is to focus on high priority subjects, maths and science, as well as providing digital resources to support the Incremental Introduction of African Languages, which aims to promote and develop “previously marginalised” indigenous South African languages.

The intiative also promises to cater to learners with special needs and their teachers by equipping them with suitable educational ICT resources.

Operation Phakisa in ICT Education falls under the the Department of Basic Education and will work together with other departments and stakeholders to carry out the set targets.

“There is no need to fear the unknown there is no need to play small,” Zuma said. “Madiba said, ‘there’s no passion to be found playing small’. Go big or go home.”

Zuma also reiterated government’s goal to create a country of smart citizens, and that Operation Phakisa in ICT Education was one of the ways to achieve that. “With this operation we can not fail, we can only succeed, all we need to do is to hurry up, ari phakise [let’s hurry up in SeSotho].”

This is the third project under the overall Operation Phakisa initiative since it kicked off in July last year. Two previous projects in the health and marine sectors were the first to be launched last year, and the presidency said a mining project is being targeted for the future.

[Source – South African Government News Agency, Twitter]

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