Thou­sands of ru­ral pupils to get in­ter­net ac­cess

Posted on Sunday, 02 May 2021

By Thando Ngcume

Category: Latest News

 

Eastern Cape Department of Education MEC Fundile Gade said at least 1,000 rural schools would be connected to the internet by June as part of the department’s programme to improve education in far-flung areas of the province.
He was speaking at a media briefing in Ngcobo before the start of a two-day education indaba on Thursday.

“The Eastern Cape department of education will continue with the concept which we introduced in the 2020 academic year capitalising on vast digital resources and infrastructure already in place and interventions aimed at providing increased teaching and learning opportunities,” he said.

“Last year the department rolled out ICT support to schools with success but with some challenges. One of those challenges was the issue of poor connectivity in some areas.”

The MEC said: “This poor connectivity created a digital divide between the rich and the poor.”

In 2020, they discovered that many pupils were left behind when virtual classes were broadcast because of poor or no network signal.
He said the 1,000 rural schools would be connected to the network using satellite connections.

In 2020, the provincial education department provided matric pupils with 55,000 government tablets which cost the taxpayer more than R500m.
This was done as part of the department’s e-learning programme.

On Thursday, Gade was unable to provide the cost of connecting the 1,000 schools.  But he said procurement was being finalised with an advert expected on Friday next week.
Last week, the Dispatch reported that the department was battling to retrieve the 55,000 tablets.

Acting East Cape education superintendent-general Ray Tywakadi said the department had partnered with the police to try to get them back.

“We are working with the SAPS to recoup them. Any pupil who keeps those tablets will be criminally liable,” he said.

Gade said the department was working on introducing more indigenous African languages in schools from Grade R upwards.

It was also engaging with the department of social development to have early childhood development centres moved to his department.

He said this would provide an opportunity to improve the development of children and the quality of the centres.

Gade said despite the dire effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, his department had managed to create jobs for 262 SMMES to supply PPES to schools.

Thousands of young people employed as education assistants had gone a long way to address socioeconomic challenges, he added.

He said in trying to improve school results, all districts had initiated their own customised catchup programmes in the form of Grade 12 autumn camp classes.

The camps, which started on April 26, had been attended by 58,000 pupils across all eight districts in the province.

“These camps mostly focus on mathematics, accounting and physics,” he said.

 

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