By SA News
South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma envisages that through Operation Phakisa in education, learners will leave the schooling system as ethical, discerning, and responsible users of information, and be Information Communication Technology (ICT) capable to make meaningful contributions to society.
He said learners with special needs and their teachers will also be afforded access to specialised resources and to networks of specialist support.
The President said this on Friday in Boksburg when he launched Operation Phakisa in ICT in the education sector, which will be spearheaded by the Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga.
This set of Operation Phakisa is the third to be launched by the President since the first one launched in Ocean Economy last year in July. The second one was launched in the health sector. The President said Operation Phakisa in Mining will also be launched soon.
An online approach
“ICTs have huge benefits to bring into the teaching and learning spaces,” he said.
He said learners will be able to access educational resources to successfully meet the requirements of the curriculum.
“Teachers will be able to access the resources necessary to create effective learning opportunities for all learners. For teachers’ own personal development, they will be able to engage in online programmes to enhance skills and strengthen their content knowledge for the delivery of the curriculum.
“An online approach will afford teachers the ability to collaborate with their communities of practice. The intended outcome is that the ICTs will reduce non-core teaching responsibilities of teachers and renew their passion for their profession,” he said.
He said ICTs will strengthen the collection of school data through rapid, reliable, and transparent flows of information between national, provincial, district and school levels. Accurate and timeous information can facilitate effective management and operation of the education system.
He said this programme is a most effective way of implementing the objectives outlined in the National Development Plan (NDP).
“The Operation Phakisa ICT in Education lab worked towards finding ways to accelerate ICT provisioning to all schools, but more importantly, the lab worked with the understanding that devices alone cannot improve learning,” he said.
He said Operation Phakisa ICT marks an overdue turning point in government’s quest to transform teaching and learning through the appropriate use of ICTs as envisioned by the 2004 White Paper on E-education.
He said Basic Education will continue to work closely with departments such as Telecommunications and Postal Services, Communications, Higher Education and training and government entities, and regulatory bodies in the ICT sector to align the national ICT in Education rollout in a coordinated and accelerated manner.
Partnerships called to assist in Operation Phakisa
“We call on the private sector and NGO partners to support the plans for the lab and to assist the country in ensuring the sustainability of the e-education initiatives.
He said partnerships between government, private sector, social partners and NGO sector yielded achievements by providing schools with ICT resources coupled with relevant teacher training.
“It is through such partnerships that we have achieved such milestones,” he said.
“We have provided about 92% of our schools with at least one computer for administrative purposes and with 28% of schools using computers or other devices to enhance teaching and learning; 49% of our schools are reported to have access to connectivity.
“We have established a dedicated educational television channel which is currently broadcasting lessons benefiting both teachers and learners alike. To acknowledge and motivate innovative teachers who have taken the leap to incorporate ICTs into their classrooms, the Annual National Teacher Awards now includes an ICT in Education category,” he said.
Through the assistance of the Vodacom Foundation, more than 80 teacher centres, including nine state-of-the-art information communication technology resource centres, have been established across all provinces and we are in the process of setting up more of the same.
However, The President acknowledged that government has not taken full advantage and exploited the potential that ICTs can bring in assisting the country to attain educational outcomes.
Gauteng leads the way in e-learning
In his welcoming remarks, Gauteng Premier David Makhura said the provincial government is humbled to be one of those that are pioneering the bold initiative of e-learning, e-health, e-police and e-government in other streams.
He commended Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi for his commitment in rolling out paperless classroom project in schools.
He said the province has gained positive and negative experiences in rolling out the programme.
On the positive side, Premier Makhura said school attendance for both teachers and learners has improved, and this is because of tablets that are being handed over to schools for learning.
“Some of the learners who had dropped out are returning to schools and they say they don’t want to miss out on ICT enabled education.
“Teachers and learners are coming to school much earlier than before and are staying longer after school. There is also a lot of self-training by teachers and learners as they page through e-textbooks and novels,” he said.
He said there is huge demand for infrastructure roll-out in the province. The schools that are not yet connected as e-classrooms are putting pressure on the Department of Education and provincial government.
He requested a package for teacher training, and said security of tablets and other equipment in the classrooms are also some of the challenges.