By Zikhona Nyumka
Of 854 teachers in public schools in the Makana sub-district, 389 have received laptop computers as part of a Department of Basic Education (DBE) initiative to integrate ICTs into teaching.
According to the Makana DBE e-learning co-ordinator, Rejoice Batyi, all Foundation Phase teachers have already received laptops, while Grade 4 and Grade 9 teachers are in the process of receiving theirs. The DBE also plans to distribute laptops to all high school teachers and from next year learners will start receiving tablets.
In 2017, the Mail & Guardian reported that while Eastern Cape educators were receiving laptops, many teachers were not computer literate and had not been trained to use them.
However, Batyi reports that she has provided many teachers in the Makana Sub-district with training in how to use Microsoft Office and other software that is essential to their teaching practice.
“I train teachers and subject advisors in a set programme and monitor the usage of the technology,” Batyi said. In addition, Rhodes University offers a one-year ICT in Education course, for the enhancement of teachers’ ICT skills.
To cope with the daunting challenge of training 854 teachers, Batyi uses computer literate teachers as her assistants. “They are many and I am alone. So, you find there is no individual attention. But, I do try my level best to make it fun, so that they at least understand. When I train them, I find there are those who are at an advanced level and they help me catapult those who are at basics,” Batyi explained.
Macmillan and ETDP SETA also work hand in hand with Batyi in facilitating training workshops for teachers.
“At schools, we use Telematics, which is a live MOODLE presentation programme with a presenter from the Stellenbosch University,” Batyi said.
“We live in, the technological era. So, our learners and teachers have got to be familiarized with that so that they are not left behind,” Batyi said.
According to The Daily Dispatch, the department had set aside R250-million for the first phase of its digital initiative, which included providing laptops for Foundation Phase teachers and laptops and tablets for principals. The laptops come with two gigabytes of data each month.
The Department of Basic Education has partnered with telecommunications companies, Vodacom, Cell C and MTN in this initiative. The distribution of laptops is currently facilitated by Vodacom.