20 July 2010
Teachers across South Africa have welcomed the roll-out of the Teacher Laptop Initiative, saying they are looking forward to sharing ideas, learning from each other and improving the quality of teaching in the country.
The initiative aims to ensure that every teacher owns and uses a laptop, by providing them with a monthly allowance to cover the costs of purchase and internet connectivity.
Teachers participating in the initiative are required to use their laptops both in their teaching and their administration.
On Thursday, teachers countrywide got a brief lesson on computer literacy, e-mail, internet and various software packages.
“It helps us to work smart,” said Mthunzi Mbewane, a grade 8 and 9 teacher from Mkhatshwa Junior Secondary School in KwaZulu-Natal. “We will benefit a lot from the laptops as we will get information to assist us in improving our teaching skills.
“With this initiative, teachers will be able to share ideas and learn from each other on the methods they use in their schools to improve the standard of learning, especially for under-performing schools,” Mbewane said.
Choice of packages
As from this week, qualifying teachers will be able to buy laptops from suppliers accredited to participate in the initiative. They have a choice of packages ranging from R250 to R390 a month from suppliers that have been accredited by the department.
Each qualifying teacher will be given a monthly allowance of R130, and will have to add the rest. The laptop package includes school administration materials and the national curriculum, as well as internet connectivity.
Suppliers include Dell, Fujitsu Siemens, HP, Lenovo, LG, Mecer, Pinnacle, Sahara, Cell C, MTN, Telkom and Vodacom.
Launching the initiative in Pretoria last week, Deputy Education Minister Enver Surty said it would enable teachers to access data information and be able to use it in their schools.
“Currently we have 80% information on learners in the data and next year we will have 100% and be able to track all of them,” he said.
Improving teaching quality
South African Democratic Teachers Union President Thobile Ntola welcomed the initiative, saying that the technology would allow the department to circulate information directly to the teachers.
“We commend the Education Labour Relations Council for taking a bold step to assist teachers,” Ntola said, adding that well trained and supported teachers would lead to quality of education delivery.
National Professional Teacher’s Organisation President Ezra Ramasehla said the laptops would make a difference in helping teachers to deliver quality service in the classrooms.
“Education remains a tried and tested vehicle to take learners out of the vicious cycle of poverty, and the laptops have potential to expose our teachers to levels they have never been before,” Ramasehla said.