Zandile Tanoatsoala, a grade 4 teacher atLotus Gardens Primary School, is alreadyusing a laptop in her classes. Deputy minister Enver Surty and ELRC’sDhana Govender. Government is hoping all teachers will uselaptops. (Images: Bongani Nkosi)MEDIA CONTACTS• Hope MokgatlheMedia Liaison OfficerBasic Education Department+27 12 312 5538 or +27 71 680 6849RELATED ARTICLES• Education focus of Mandela Day 2010• Poor schools score textbooks• SA colleges get $6.7m boost• Ubuntu software for schoolsBongani NkosiSouth Africa’s public schools are moving into a new era of advanced technology, thanks to the new Teacher Laptop Initiative that’s rolling out across the country, allowing teachers to introduce laptops into their classrooms.A partnership between the Department of Basic Education and the private sector, the project is supervised by the Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC).Top-of-the-range Pentium-4 machines, each one internet-ready and with national curriculum lessons and other relevant software installed, will be distributed to schools from 19 JulyGovernment believes the introduction of ICT into all its primary and secondary schools will improve the quality of pupils’ education. Teacher unions are unanimously supporting the initiative, and are hoping it will enhance their members’ teaching skills.“This is a powerful instrument that will help us transform our public education system,” said Dhaya Govender, general secretary of ELRC.The project was launched on 15 July at the Lotus Gardens Primary School in Pretoria West, where teachers are already using the laptops. ELRC has 18 months to ensure that it’s fully rolled out.Technology in the classroomThere are over 360 000 teachers plying their trade in South Africa’s public schools, and the plan is to give all of them a laptop. “We will ensure that every teacher owns and is able to use a computer,” said Enver Surty, deputy minister of Basic Education.About 125 000 teachers have already received computer training, Surty said, adding that the department is also progressing with the registration of learners into a national database. Some 80% are already in the system.The 12 suppliers to the project, all prominent computer dealers and ISPs, are offering training sessions in the schools. Local companies involved include mobile providers Cell C, Vodacom and MTN, hardware suppliers Lenovo and Sahara Systems, and telecommunications company Telkom, among others.“Our technicians and engineers provide training for teachers, showing them how to use the [installed] applications,” said Dayalan Pillay, a business manager at ICT training company Gijima Ast, also a supplier.Teachers have participated actively in the training sessions, government noted.The Skool websitepA website due to be launched shortly, www.skool.co.za, will become a nerve centre of the initiative and will contain all modules of the school curriculum.“Teachers can set tests using the website. All resources are readily available for the teacher,” Pillay said.Improving communicationGovernment is spending about US$317-million (R2.8-billion) to subsidise the laptops, as well as projectors for classrooms. Teachers will pay a monthly minimum fee for the computers, which will then become their property.Unions see the initiative as a viable platform to improve communication in the teaching sector.“There have been challenges in communicating vital information to the teachers,” said Thobile Ntola, president of the South African Democratic Teachers Union. “The laptops will play a role in bridging this gap.”“We must all rejoice when teachers can use e-mail to communicate with colleagues, exchange ideas, debate and discuss, and be exposed to the world of knowledge using powerful search engines like Google,” said Ezrah Ramasehla, president of the National Association of Professional Teachers of South Africa.
The Group of Ministers (GoM) on the Commonwealth Games will focus on how the Organising Committee spent the amount of Rs 1,600 crore given by the Centre at its first meeting in New Delhi on Monday after the conclusion of the mega sporting event.On the eve of the crucial meeting, the beleaguered OC Chairman Suresh Kalmadi on Sunday met Urban Development Minister Jaipal Reddy, who also heads the Group, but details of the deliberations were not known.Kalmadi will be also present at the meeting.”He (Kalmadi) did meet me. It was a Dussehra festival greeting,” Reddy told PTI.Details of expenditure on a massive inventory of venue-specific overlays for the games, which were either hired or bought from foreign companies, will be also looked into at the meeting, official sources said. Some of the items were reported to be overcharged.Significantly, the Central Vigilance Commission(CVC) has asked the OC to retain in India for investigations a sample of each item of the equipment and props hired from foreign suppliers for the 17 Games venues.Kalmadi’s meeting comes a day after being snubbed by both Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, who didn’t invite him while felicitating the Indian medal winners of the Commonwealth Games.The Prime Minister had interacted with the medal winners on Friday, while Sonia Gandhi had called them to her residence yesterday but on both occasions, Kalmadi was left out.The Delhi Chief Minister had also said that the “suspicion” of corruption in the Commonwealth Games is on the Organising Committee headed by Kalmadi.advertisementDikshit said corruption could have taken place in the activities undertaken by the Organising Committee to which the Central government had given loans to the tune of Rs 1,600 crore.She had said the “real corruption seems to be with regard to the money given as loans (to the OC)”.Kalmadi had come under fire in the controversial run-up to the Games, which was marked by a series of corruption charges, mismanagement, leaking roof and collapse of footbridge.The Prime Minister had set up a high-level committee headed by former Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) V K Shunglu to probe the organising of the CWG.With inputs from PTI
In a field loaded with the best throwers from around the world, Vikas Gowda did reasonably well to finish eighth in discus throw. However, I feel that he could have done better considering his performance in the qualification round.Making it to the final of a track and field event at the Olympics is in itself a great triumph only achieved by a limited few in Indian athletics. Vikas should savour the moment.With a strong built, Vikas is capable of challenging the best throwers, but he needs to improve and should compete in top international competitions in Europe. Judging by his body language in the final, he seemed to be under pressure.Another Indian in the fray on Tuesday was triple jumper Renjith Maheshwary. He fouled in all his three attempts, which is a poor indicator of his preparedness for the Olympics. As chairman of the selection committee for Indian athletics, I had my doubts about his preparedness as he had not participated in any international meets since April 2012.I am a strong advocate for Olympic trials like all the major track & field powerhouses do. The most celebrated athlete of London Olympics – Usain Bolt – partially attributed his success in 100m to the loss he had to face against Yohan Blake at the Jamaican Olympic trials.When the most celebrated athletes in the world can humbly participate in the Olympic trials conducted by their respective nations, I fail to understand why Indian athletics is not implementing this proven system.advertisementTintu Luka qualified for the 800m semifinals but her chances of making it to the final look very bleak to me. Again, Tintu didn’t compete much before the Olympics and a few more meets would have given her the much needed edge.I think she gave her 90 per cent on Wednesday during the heats but that was the case with the top finishers in all the six heats who seemed to be saving their reservoirs for the semi-finals.Overall, the performance of the Indian athletes in track and field events at the London Olympics has been satisfactory.(The writer is an Asian Games gold medallist and a finalist at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics)