Gauteng

Gauteng to implement new strategies to fight school tablet theft


The Gauteng Department of Education has announced plans to prevent theft of school tablets.

The province’s MEC for Education Panyaza Lesufi addressed the issue of theft at a media breakfast today, pointing out that more than 7 000 tablets from last year are yet to be returned and 10 000 tablets that were returned were broken.

During the academic year, there were also issues with tablets being stolen from learners from various schools.

This has obviously had a negative impact on the project which carries a R5 billion price tag for government and private sector partners, a projected cumulative R2 billion over three years beginning last year

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Difficult for learners to let go of tablets

“Learners have found the device helpful and when they’re going to university, they have to hand it over and start using ball point pens, so they decide they would rather stick to using tablets,” Lesufi told htxt.africa.

“We need to create a platform between us and the minister of higher education to deal with learners’ transitions. You can’t really expect learners to willingly hand over tablets and go and start with exercise and textbooks again.”

Measures against theft and security bypassing

To tackle the issue of theft, the MEC said the department is moving to have the tablets marked as property of the provincial government to deter pawn shop and informal sellers from purchasing them from thieves.

The hope is that this branding will also deter efforts to jailbreak the devices so they can use them to browse non-education related websites.

Tablet distribution pushed back

The distribution of tablets to matrics this year began on Monday – a month later than was the case last year.

According to Lesufi, the reason the roll out was pushed back this year was also aimed at preventing theft. The delay was aimed at making sure the tablets ended up in the hands of registered learners attending school in Gauteng, rather than chancers looking to game the system.

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“We feel that these lessons must assist us to plan for the next roll out, that’s why we now know where the problems are and how to solve those particular problems,” he said, also calling on private sector companies to assist where they can.

Despite the drawbacks however, Lesufi said he personally feels benefits of ICT in education far outweigh its consequences and challenges.

“Even though they [learners] do wrong things, to me the mere fact that they are utilising the gadgets, means we’ve planted a seed that will really yield dividends at some stage, so the benefit supersedes the loss and theft,” he said.

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