Tanaka Mahanya Features Writer
Government’s move to establish smart classrooms in primary schools as a way of promoting a sustainable computer education programme will ensure effective learning and teaching through harnessing of technological advancements.
Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education Permanent Secretary Mrs Tumisang Thabela said digital learning will help equip learners with competency skills that will contribute to economic industrialisation and transformation.
“The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education has a mandate of preparing learners for the future and equipping them with necessary skills and knowledge that will help them operate in an increasingly competitive environment.
“We have thus embarked on an exercise set to promote massive embracing of digital and electronic-driven teaching and learning in all our institutions,” she said.
The world has transformed from old ways of doing things to embrace advancements in technology and change in the education sector through global technological giants such as Google, Facebook and Netflix.
E-learning ensures easy access to information as it allows learners full admission to educational journals and data online.
A prime benefit of digital learning is that modern learners are brought together through online platforms and this enables them to access information that is updated from time to time.
In South Africa, e-learning was launched in 2011 to provide a wide range of educational resources and skills training in response to a desperate need for good quality educational resources by teachers, learners and parents.
The aim of the programme is to improve on research and develop dynamic educational resources and learning solutions suitable for 21st century learning, which has improved the education sector. Visual images always have a strong appeal to teachers and learners compared to words.
The use of projectors, visuals and power point presentations engages the learner into the lesson as it becomes interesting.
Students prefer seeing visuals as a way of improving their analysis and scrutiny of facts and figures. However, for effective e-classroom learning, the Government should address the issue of power-cuts first to ensure the system is of use to all its beneficiaries.
With regular power-cuts that have hit the country, e-learning can be difficult to effect as most places do not have electricity during the day. Through embracing technology, the country can navigate the infrastructural and economic challenges that have hindered efforts to make the education sector more productive.
When most of these programmes are rolled out, rural communities tend to lag behind due to unavailability of electricity and lack of computers. Though various stakeholders, including the Government, have donated computers to rural schools to reduce the access to information and communication technology gap between rural and urban schools, a lot needs to be done in rural schools.
Donated computers lie idle in most rural schools because of lack of trained ICT teachers and computer laboratories in schools, which has led to the deterioration of the gadgets.
Technology remains locked up in classrooms and not being used, as teachers continue to use traditional methods of teaching, which they are well versed with.
The programme is more likely to benefit urban communities because learners have a background of computer literacy from their homes, which is not the case in urban areas.
According to Kabanda (2012), from a broader perspective, the benefits from advances in ICTs could also mean an acceleration of economic and social development and greater inclusion of isolated populations, particularly in rural areas, in the mainstream society.
ICT skills are crucial, because even after completing primary, secondary and tertiary education, learners will soon find out that computer literacy is essential in industry and the labour market.
Also, when such programmes take off, there should be measures to ensure that the desired services reach all the intended targets, instead of having teachers manipulating the whole project, thus denying the learners access.