The much-vaunted plan to make schools in Gauteng textbook-free is starting to move up a gear, as local MEC for education Panyaza Lesufi has promised that five high schools in the area will be tablet-only for grades 8-10 by the start of the next academic year.
Speaking at a meeting of the School Governing Bodies yesterday, Lesufi repeated his commitment to an ambitious five-year plan to introduce one-tablet-per-child in Gauteng, at a cost of around R4bn. The first “classroom of the future”, the model upon which the plan is based, will be shown off later this week. While it’s known that the MEC is impressed with Boxburg’s Sunward Park, the first government school to go textbook-free, tenders have not yet been issued for essential software portals like these which will be required for schools to come online.
The plan is to introduce tablets to grades 8-10 pupils first, then expand the project to grades 11-12 by 2016. After all high schools have been upgraded Lesufi says the same principles will be applied to improve primary schooling in townships. The University of Johannesburg will co-ordinate teacher training on the new tablets.
The five schools which will be tablet-only next year haven’t yet been named, but the department has previously said that there are 21 schools it will be initially targeted for the first wave of upgrades. In order to test the plan out thoroughly, they’ve been selected from across the social spectrum.
Ten of the schools will be drawn from a pool that is currently classified as requiring special attention because of poor standards in socially deprived areas and have not yet been named.
Six of the schools are classified as good enough to compete with independent institutions and are currently over-subscribed. These are:
The remaining five are classified as “developing” – in other words they’ve already seen improvements in results and teaching standards over the last few years. These are:
- Thandi Siubeko High
- Oracle Ponelopele Secondary
- Tshepisa Primary
- Tlama Tlama Primary
- Boitumelong Secondary
That list is a mix of primary and secondary establishments and it’s not yet clear whether or not Sunward will be counted as one of the five for next year’s milestone.