MEC Donald Grant supports the use of technology in schools

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010 | ICT in Africa, technology

Donald Grant, MEC for Education in the Western Cape, visited Bridgeville Primary School on the Cape Flats today to show to the media what schools can achieve by means of technology.

Donald Grant with learners in the computer room

Bridgeville Primary School is a shining example of how technology can be harnessed to improve learning outcomes.  Over the past years the literacy ratings of learners in this school have shot up dramatically.  The principal, Albert Arendse, attributes much of this success to the use of technology.  The school has a computer laboratory with 25 computers, as well as an interactive whiteboard in every classroom.

The next goal of the school is to use technology to improve numeracy, which is a serious problem in most of the schools in the province.

Interactive whiteboards give learners a head-start in literacy and numeracy

MEC Grant told the media that he and the Western Cape Education Department are serious about the use of technology to strengthen teaching and learning in the province.  Through the award-winning Khanya project, 1 225 schools have already been helped to acquire computer facilities, and by 2012 all the schools in the province will reach this status.  The MEC also informed the media that he is determined to find a way to provide broadband connectivity to all schools.

A huge investment in time and money has already been made in order to lay a solid base of technology in the province.  The next challenge for the minister and his department is to ensure that teachers receive continued support for optimal technology use.

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10 Comments to MEC Donald Grant supports the use of technology in schools

Albie
Tuesday, 9 November, 2010

Thank you MEC Mr Donald Grant for supporting TECHNOLOGY ! The use of technology as provided by Khanya is already strengthening teaching and learning in the province.

Yes the challenge for WCED and the minister will be to ensure that teachers receive continued support for optimal technology use – this is where Khanya can play a vital role to assist schools to maintain curriculum training and facilitating processes and to guide schools to optimum sustainability.

The role of Khanya and all its “components” from project plans, technical support, facilitation guidance and other ICT skills course and training opportunities must not be underestimated !

With the Minister’ “broadband support”, we ALL in education and within the Western Cape, WCED and Khanya are “not walking and balancing on the narrow rope”, but paving the digital cyberspace for learners and their future successes. Thanks for your SUPPORT Mr Donald Grant.

Albie I Grant a Star to Donald

John Thole
Tuesday, 9 November, 2010

We have technology – the easy piece is almost complete. Let us now work together to create and establish centres of excellence, a clear vision for the use of technology in each school, exemplars of good practice, leaders of learning, communities of practise, new human resourcing models to support teachers in their development, critical and thinking skills, processes and places to reflect and mirror learning, relevant professional development …..

Kathy
Wednesday, 10 November, 2010

I would estimate that around half our schools are using technology in an increasingly effective way. We have achieved this in less than ten years in an environment that is often crime-ridden and poverty-stricken… Wow!

To get the Khanya Project off the ground has taken a huge effort and a dedicated team. After all these years, this team is operating smoothly, like a well-oiled machine. If we can just keep this momentum going, I believe the incremental gains will become more and more evident as learners and teachers improve and apply their digital literacy.

I am worried about the changes that are afoot in moving the Khanya Project into the WCED. Khanya is one of the few things that IS working well… why alter the structure of a winning team?

We must not make the mistake of measuring the success of Khanya only by improved literacy and numeracy results. ICT should be a core subject in its own right and should be taught for its own sake… because we are preparing learers for a technological world…

Watch this brilliant video by Ken Robinson – It will change the way you think about education: http://www.ted.com/talks/sir_ken_robinson_bring_on_the_revolution.html?awesm=on.ted.com_8h71

Gail Rossiter Alicedale Primary School
Wednesday, 10 November, 2010

Alicedale Primary was amongst the first primary schools in Athlone to introduce IT to the learners, starting off with the purchasing of 10 PC’s, then later buying some refurbished PC’s as well as collaborating with The Shuttleworth Foundation. All of the above set a sound foundation for the next phase in our school when we were introduced to the Khanya Project just over three years ago. In addition to the existing equipment mentioned previously, we now have a fully functional Khanya computer Lab consisting of 25 learner PC’s a teacher’s PC and a Server. The introduction of 4 Interactive Whiteboards just put us on another level. The educators in whose classes the smartboards have been placed tell me that they will be lost if I should put them in a classroom that does not have an interactive whiteboard. The difficulty now is, how do we share this with the remaining staff members who also want to be full time in a class with an interactive whiteboard. By installing these smartboards in every classrooms, it would solve some of the problems by trying to accommodate a whole school on the timetable with the availablity of only one fully functional computer lab. One of my teachers account an incident of one of her learners who very seldom completes written work in her workbook (Languages and Mathematic) but when she is taken to the computer room and does the same work there, she is one of the first to complete her work. Likewise when our learners are busy with the Apple Mac laptops, they enter a new level where educators have to struggle to keep up with them. As educators, we need to keep abreast with technology in order to teach our learners on a level that they are comfortable with and where they thrive. Thanks to Khanya, we are still able to explore those avenues.

Warren Sparrow
Wednesday, 10 November, 2010

My name is Warren Sparrow and I have taught at Rondebosch Boys’ Preparatory School for the last 12 years. I am the teacher in charge of Information Technology and the implementation of technology into the classrooms.
During the course of this year I have won both the Microsoft South African Innovative Teacher’s Award, as well as the Pan African component of the competition. I was then invited to participate in the Microsoft World forum which was held in Cape Town during October 2010. I mention this not to boast about my achievement, but to give you a bit of insight of what I have been exposed to recently.

Firstly I would like to compliment MEC Donald Grant in taking the first step in the right direction in supporting the use of technology in schools.

There needs to be a shift in focus from the way we currently teach to teaching the 21st learner using the available technology that our learners are exposed to and are comfortable with.

This however, is often the opposite to the attitude of the teacher. Many of the teachers in this country feel that they do not have the necessary expertise or knowledge to be able to use computers or technology. This I believe is more important than having the technology in the classroom. If the teachers do not feel empowered to use the technology, then regardless of how good the technology is in their classroom, they will not use it. Through the advancement of teacher training, both while studying, as well as in service training, teachers need training on the effective use of technology to improve both the teachers and students lives so that active learning can take place.

If we look at most of Europe, Australia and the United States, they have benchmarks for each grade and what the students are expected to know and understand about technology. This is not a separate subject, but is implemented into each different subject from Grade 1. I am not saying that we have to adopt a model from a different country, but we can use their methodology and ideals to produce our own South African based technology core.

Through my various conversations with different schools, I have realized that we have a huge resource in South Africa with both knowledge, as well as expertise in technology. Unfortunately these resources are not well utilized, and often schools re-invent the wheel every time there needs to be improvement or changes done. This also applies to the implementation of technology into the classroom. Although you can find a great deal on the Internet, it is scattered everywhere. We need a portal that will allow all teachers access to retrieve lessons plans, implementation strategies, hardware and software advice, as well as general support. I do know that there are various Khanya and Education Department portals where you will find information, but you can find certain information on one portal and then not on the other and vice versa. We need one portal that will deliver all content to everybody.

I realize that this is a huge task ahead of us, but I trust that for the benefit of the students in our classes all across our rainbow land that the right decisions will be made to improve the lives of all.

Shirley Kaminer
Wednesday, 10 November, 2010

What Khanya has achieved since its inception has been nothing less that remarkable!

There is no doubt that what has been achieved by Khanya has been a huge credit to the WCED in paving the way for integrating ICT in education and it has been a shining light in the S.A. educational context. Bridgeville Primary School is but one example of the many successes of Khanya over the years and it has certainly proved that the effective use of ICT in education cannot be under estimated in the pursuit of student academic achievement at all levels and in all learning areas.

However, the mere existence of computer laboratories, educational software, and electronic resources in the classroom, such as interactive whiteboards, should not lead to complacency in the quest for uplifting the quality of education in our schools. The provision of these tools should not be envisaged as an end in itself, but rather the beginning of a process for students to be actively engaged in their own learning. This will require continued input from education departments in the form of teacher training, as well as a necessary educational strategy for students to develop a more analytical and discerning approach to the information revolution that they are exposed to, whether at school or at home. It is not just the hardware and the software that will enable this, but a sustained effort on the part of education departments to develop the integration of ICT into the mainstream of education. This will probably only be achieved through public / private partnerships, and the suppliers of teaching and learning materials could offer a vital role in this area. This is an aspect that should be actively explored in ensuring that all students have the best quality education possible.

Charles
Thursday, 11 November, 2010

Susutaining the already considerable investment in technology in the WCED is clearly the next big challenge. The gradual transformation in the way educators use technology is now well under way and the failure to sustain this transformation would undermine the remarkable success allready achieved

Joanne Anderson
Friday, 12 November, 2010

In my experience I think what is most outstanding is that every learner in every class fully engages with technology no matter what their capabilities. Group co-operation happens instantly and all learners are motivated to complete the task at hand to the best of their ability because their audience is potentially wider. ( for eg if they were to post their video to Youtube)

Learners who are behind in numeracy and literacy,are forced to engage with the higher order thinking skills to get the technology to do what they need it to do. Achieving this practical task leaves them with a great sense of achievement.

Through the medium of video learners engage fully; visually, verbally and aurally with themselves and eachother. Learners are also motivated to communicate effectively in writing to complete the digital end product, be it a movie, website,podcast or presentation. Their learning experience is therefore more holistic because they have a platform which enables them to integrate their learning objectives.

Joanne Anderson- iSchoolAfrica Facilitator

Ingrid Graham
Monday, 15 November, 2010

It is interesting that Khanya is reaching the end of its first phase under the leadership of the same political party under which it started viz. – the DA. Every political head in its life time has shown sterling support of the project and it is gratifying that MEC Grant continues to show his commitment to ICTs in education. However now as Khanya reaches the last 300 odd schools in the Province there are many challenges and questions as to what happens after the end of this phase in 2012. Khanya has over the last 10 years developed methodologies around implementation, infrastructure, training, technical support, risk management, partnership development and management and many more. HOW will these functions be carried forward?

In its manifesto of 2009 the DA stated:

We will also ensure Internet access for every learner within five years by:
• Extending the DA’s Khanya Programme, which provides software, computers and support to poor schools in the Western Cape, to the rest of South Africa.
• Partnering with private sector computer training companies to help with training teachers….

We wait with keen anticipation to hear and see HOW this will be done.

Mark C
Wednesday, 17 November, 2010

I am a dissenting voice here. I don’t trust politics or politicians. One political party is the same as the other. What politicians say and what they do are two different things. Unfortunately politics seem to rule us in this country. Ingrid’ s statement is interesting, but I would not put my head on a block for any guarantees.

I think the Khanya project has done a lot, but it is not enough. With money and political posturing what we may see is good and exciting is not seen in the same way by others.

Maybe it is time for the project to end….but will its spirit live on in the people it served? Will the beneficiaries keep it going..run the extra mile without being told, instructed or forced? Does it need a MEC, DG, SG IMG, CA, facilitator, politician keep it going or does it need a collaborative effort from the bottom up?

I think Bridgeville Prim is an example of what can be done and it is a school where the spirit of those who have contributed will remain there for a long time.

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