Free tablets, wi-fi for Gauteng schools

16 August 2013

Gauteng’s 2 200 public schools will have access to uncapped wi-fi and 3G connectivity and 88 000 Huawei tablets will be distributed to students from next year as part of the province’s e-Learning Solution.

The R396.2-million project will facilitate learning by addressing the digital divide and will provide all pupils an e-mail address and free internet access.

It will replace the Gauteng Online Schools Programme, provincial Finance MEC Mandla Nkomfe said on Wednesday.

“The rebranded e-learning solution will be rolled out at the beginning of next year and will be up and running in January 2014 when schools reopen,” Nkomfe said.

“The Gauteng Online programme succeeded in improving computer literacy in public schools and demystified phobias associated with the world wide web.”

The replacement of the initiative is expected to build on this foundation.

“Exposing our learners to e-learning techniques ought to occur at a tender age,” he said. “We therefore elected an e-learning solution that could mediate meaningfully, but in a sustainable manner, while being financially viable.”

Connectivity and cloud solution firm Cloudseed won a two-year contract to provide network connectivity for the project, following which the Gauteng Broadband Network will provide this service.

Short-term insurance will be provided for losses and damages, along with ongoing maintenance and support.

Pretoria also has an ambitious wi-fi target for the next three years, which will make it the first metro in Africa to provide its residents with access to wi-fi on a large scale.

The project, in partnership with non-profit wi-fi movement Project Isizwe, is the first of its kind undertaken by local government and will give poor communities priority.

Five locations in the city will have free wi-fi by November this year: the Tshwane University of Technology’s Soshanguve campus, the University of Pretoria’s Hatfield campus, Tshwane North College, the Mamelodi Community Centre and Church Square in the central business district.

The first phase of the project will cost an estimated R1-million.

Over 200 schools in the Soshanguve, Mamelodi and Atteridgeville areas will receive wi-fi in 2014, and 2016 will see the service being rolled out to government education institutions and other areas in the city.

People will be able to access the internet without a password for free with a fair-use agreement, under which they can download 250-megabytes worth of data a day at a speed of one megabyte a second.

The project is expected to contribute to making Pretoria a “research and knowledge capital city”, Tshwane mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa said at the launch last week.

SAinfo reporter