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Technology boost for Eastern Cape school

Feb 1, 2017
Technology boost for Eastern Cape school

Life will never be the same again for hundreds of pupils from an Eastern Cape rural school which received a major technology boost on Tuesday, thanks to a government-private sector partnership.

Until today, pupils at Mancam Junior Secondary School, situated in the largely rural area of Mqanduli near Mthatha, had to travel long distances to access necessities such as the internet and printers. The lack of internet at the school meant that the pupils lagged behind technologically and this affected their performance, say school authorities. 

It is this plight of these children that prompted government and network provider Vodacom to put together resources to build a state-of-the-art cyber lab at the school. The centre is equipped with tablets that are connected to a wireless network to help the pupils and teachers access the internet for learning and teaching purposes.

The project is aimed at not only changing the lives of the children at the school but the community should also benefit in terms of skills development, says Deputy Minister of Communications Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams. She officially opened the cyber lab on Tuesday.

“We visited the school in the past and the principal raised a lot of issues and the things the school needs. One of the things they mentioned was a cyber lab that indeed today we handed over. We believe technology, the internet in particular, is key to the development of our children and communities as we live in a global world,” said Ndaben-Abrahams. Her visit to the school formed part of the Back to School Programme that was adopted by Cabinet recently to encourage members of the executive to commit to outreach programmes targeting schools.

On Tuesday, Deputy Minister Ndabeni - Abrahams was accompanied by Public Enterprises counterpart Bulelani Magwanishe as well as MEC for Rural Development in the Eastern Cape Mlibo Qoboshiyane. The three handed over new school desks as well as uniforms to learners. It’s was a big moment for the school and the local community whose majority of households depend on state grants for survival. Growing up in Mqanduli, access to internet and the latest gadgets was always a distant dream for most of these learners. Now they can own their own tablets when at school and have an unlimited access to e-learning, news and information to help them become better learners.

Back to school programme important

Speaking to SA News, Deputy Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams explained that the Back to School initiative is an important outreach programme as education remains one of the top priorities of government.

“We live in a global world and we must ensure that our own learners are competitive. So it is very important that we channel all our energy and resources towards education.  Today we are saying education and technology advancement is also very important for rural kids as you know the world is going digital. We cannot afford to miss out on anything,” she said.

Children in rural areas needed not feel abandoned and left out while children in cities were advancing in terms of technology.

“They’ve got to know wherever they are that they matter and they are loved and we will do everything we can to ensure that all children progress equally it doesn’t matter if one is Pretoria and the other is in Mqanduli.”

Mancam Junior Secondary School is not the first school that the Deputy Minister has helped secure technology equipment for pupils. Last year, she visited several schools in the former Transkei area where computers and tablets were donated to schools as part of promoting Information Communication Technology use in schools. But the security of this equipment in schools has always been a concern and on Tuesday, the Deputy Principal at the Mqanduli School Zimasa Mpantshwa did allude the problem.

“We are worried about the security of the equipment because it is very expensive. But as the community working together we will ensure that it is kept safe at all times,” Mpantshwa said.

Technology helping chilren excel

She said since the children at her school had started using computers and tablets, their performance had improved.

“They are now able to count well and are able to create things and print them in colour. They also know the world a bit better now,” said the school principal.  It’s a sentiment shared by many pupils at the school. One pupil, Siyasanga Mamkeli said one thing computer literacy has given her is confidence.

“Now I can be able to go home and tell my parents about a lot of things I have learned on the internet. I have become confident in using technology because I believe many problems we are facing in the world can be solved by technology, I am not scared of it anymore.”

Another pupil, Sikhumbuzo Zweni admitted to be addicted to YouTube videos since he started using the tablet.

“I do learn but I also love watching a lot of videos of racing cars as well as animal channels. But sometimes I look for information,” he said. Whatever the case maybe, one thing that was certain on Tuesday is that the pupils have embraced the technology that has hit their school and the majority of them seem determine to learn as much as they can about the world. This is a generation that South Africa will need to realise the goals of the National Development Plan.  – SAnews.gov.za