Why support ICT in education?
ICT is broadly supportive of education. It helps with the achievement of national education goals and drives teaching and learning, particularly when it comes to developing and delivering on the curriculum. It also helps to support the business of education, promotes whole-school development, creates value for stakeholders, and aids in the production of empowered digital citizens.
There are a few challenges facing schools, however, including a lack of sufficient funding or financial sustainability (it doesn’t help to have computers in classrooms if internet connectivity is not continuous and reliable, for example). The shortage of basic infrastructure and equipment obviously needs to be addressed.
While it is laudable to have basic computer skills, it is also vital that both educators and learners have the means to acquire more skills and become confident digital citizens. There can be a disconnect between the home and school experience of technology, and this can be driven by the cost of data, the lack of a personal computer, or the fact that internet access may be too slow for connectivity.
Rural schools and schools with special needs are also more likely to be left behind than urban schools.
Examples of ICT in education intervention models
School and infrastructure support
This model focuses on the provision of the computer hardware, software and infrastructure needed in order for learners to benefit from access to ICT. The focus is often on the rural areas of South Africa, where there is a critical need for learners to be provided with internet access, computers, tablets, and workspaces, in order to benefit from digital technology and gain access to the information society.
Examples of programmes investing in school and infrastructure support
- Telkom’s corporate practice focusing in ICT in schools: A case study
- MTN SA Foundation School Connectivity Programme: MTN SA Foundation has handed over more than 350 computer labs to schools in under-serviced areas. They have full internet connectivity and are equipped with educational material and curriculum content. The MTN Foundation provides functional ICT facilities at schools, teacher training, curriculum-aligned content, learner education in special needs environment through specialised equipment and digitised content.
- Telkom rolls out Next Generation Connected Schools Programme: In July 2017, Telkom pledged over R200 million for a five-year programme to improve the quality of teaching and learning with a focus on STEM in disadvantaged communities. As part of the programme, it also provided ICT infrastructure and related support in the five high schools selected, in the Tshwane West Education District. In collaboration with the district office of the Department of Education (DOE), the Foundation’s pilot project supports Grade 8 learners through to matric and has committed to rolling out the programme up to grades 11 and 12. Each grade 8 learner received a two-in-one tablet device and each school received a computer lab for grade 9-12 to provide access to technology and educational content to the learners in the school not directly involved in the programme, plus connectivity of 100 gigabytes a month. Educators received laptops, in-depth change management training, and ICT integration training in partnership with Schoolnet SA.
- One teacher, one laptop – Department of Basic Education in partnership with Vodacom, Cell C and MTN: In June 2019, Vodacom supplied 389 teachers in public schools in the Makana sub-district with laptops as part of a DBE initiative to integrate ICTs into teaching. All Foundation Phase teachers have received laptops, with Grade 4 and Grade 9 teachers in the process of receiving theirs.
- Good work Foundation: Open Learning Academy: The Open learning Academy is an online programme that is aimed at assisting mostly rural children. It works alongside the curriculum and focuses on some of the challenges focused specifically by rural schools, while also focusing on developing learner’s STEM skills.
- SA Connect reaches Limpopo: The South African Government’s department of Communication is working hard to bridge the digital divide and provide internet access to the country, starting with the Limpopo province. Their broadband project will connect four public facilities, provide ICT equipment to three schools, and introduce a cyber security outreach programme in the area.
- Gauteng principals receive smart tools of trade: In August 2019, in partnership with Vodacom, the Gauteng Department of Education provided 2 200 principals across the province with the latest Samsung Galaxy A30 smartphones. The aim was help school principals to remain in close contact with the department to speedily resolve any problems, as well as share information on best practices with one another.
This model focuses on the professional development of teachers – their abilities, skills and capacity – as well as helping then with their teaching and learning activities and their administrative work. ICT is particularly helpful when it comes to content development, preparation, teaching activities and assessment.
Many teachers grew up with limited access to technology and find ICT adoption more difficult than their learners do. Interventions assist by equipping teachers with the digital tools and skills they need to teach and manage their duties. Teachers who have achieved high levels of competence in digital learning have also been recognised.
Examples of programmes investing in teacher support for ICT in education
- Case study: Telkom helps learners and teachers develop digital skills
- Think Ahead SACE-accredited Professional Teacher Development courses
- Think Ahead offers a comprehensive professional development journey for teachers to allow them to integrate ICT effectively. They offer workshops that can be brought to schools and are available in half-day, full-day and multi-day formats.
- Vodacom continues to be involved in improving education in South Africa. They assist with making physical improvements to school infrastructure as well as enhancing education by providing access to digital connectivity and internet access. They assist with teacher training, access to caps aligned digital learning materials and provide internet to the greater community surrounding the schools they support. They regularly collaborate with 13 NGO’s working in the sector.
- INTEL ‘Teach to the Future’ Teacher Development Programme: This worldwide programme provides free professional development for teachers to help them integrate technology into instruction to enhance student learning. In South Africa, provincial senior trainers were selected and trained, and education department officials were also trained. The programme was implemented in 1 000 schools in all 9 provinces.
- TeaSterl: Educators’ ICT infusion: Teaching on a Shoe-String, eTechnology and Reciprocal Learning (TeaSterl) focuses on teacher support in rural settings. TeaSterl works with under-resourced and finance-constrained schools.
Learning in the digital age is increasingly becoming an important medium for simplifying learning and supporting curriculum delivery. In South Africa, many learners come from under-resourced contexts where access to digital technology is rare or non-existent. Various education stakeholders have committed to increasing access to ICT for learners and teachers, in order to ensure that all students ultimately gain equal access and exposure to ICT initiatives that will equip them to match the needs of our changing world.
Encouraging student engagement can be a challenge but various studies have found that ICT use greatly contributes to students’ motivation for learning. By incorporating digital tools and interactive resources, rather than the teacher simply lecturing on the topic, learners can do their own research and interact with the materials directly.
According to Sharp Digital, at least 80% of South Africans do not know how to use, how to take advantage of, or how to manage the risks of digital technology. Digital illiteracy and inequality work hand in hand.
Digital literacy promotes the development of skills such as content creation, critical thinking and evaluation skills. As the world becomes more technology-centred, these skills are essential in preparing learners for future employment prospects.
Examples of programmes and interventions that support learners in ICT in education
- Investing in effective e-learning environments in the classroom
- Investing in specialised schools and smart classrooms
- Supporting ICT in the school curriculum.
- Telkom: A revitalised strategy for strengthening education and employability: The Telkom Foundation aims to develop youth resilience through innovation and digital transformation in education. The Foundation was established in 1998, with a budget of R100 million over five years and a focus on improving education by bridging the digital divide in South African schools. In 2017 the Foundation not only doubled its investment to R200 million over five years but also drew insight from its two decades of experience to revitalise its strategy for addressing education and employability.
- Providing ICT in schools: In 2016, the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services met jointly with the Department of Basic Education regarding the provision of ICT connectivity in all schools throughout South Africa. The meeting involved stakeholders like the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA), the Universal Service and Access Agency of South Africa (USAASA), and other representatives of educational and network operations. The outcome of the briefing is outlined this Parliamentary Monitoring Group briefing.
- Managing ICTs in South African SchoolsIn 2005, the South African Institute for Distance Education (SAIDE) published Managing ICTs in South African Schools: A Guide for School Principals. This publication is based on research conducted into the use of computers for teaching and learning in South African schools. It indicates that one of the reasons why ICT projects in schools do not succeed is that principals are often not properly informed about what ICTs can or cannot do. This hampers their ability to manage the introduction of ICTs into their schools. As a guide, the publication provides useful information on how principals and senior school management can provide leadership in their schools.