Schools around Gauteng that were among the recipients of 88 000 tablets handed over by the the provincial Department of Education last year will soon have to give their tablets back, MEC for Education Panyaza Lesufi has said.

Lesufi reiterated an announcement made by the department in February that the department would take back all the tablets and have them returned once the department has enhanced security.

According to Lesufi, crime and violent protests in areas where the tablets were distributed has had a heavy negative impact on government services including schools, with the latest incident resulting in schools in the Etwatwa area in Benoni, where he made the statement, having their property and computers vandalised by protesters.

The tablets given to schools as part of the “paperless classrooms” project early this year will not be recalled however, Lesufi added. The 3 500 tablets used in seven pilot schools were all originally earmarked for the Gauteng Online general distribution, and were the first to be recalled from schools and redeployed.

Forty tablets – the number that were issued to each school originally – were stolen from the Steve Biko Secondary School in Hammanskraal earlier this year during a burglary. Eleven more have been stolen, Panyaza said, five which have been recovered and the remaining six will be traced and recovered as soon as they are switched on.

The security software – which the the DoE persists in calling a device – installed in the paperless classroom tablets allows them to be tracked and locked once they are switched on, while the tablets distributed last year initially had no security system installed.

Security has always been a concern for the department, parents and schools as most of the schools that have received tablets don’t have very sophisticated security measures aside from a fence and security guards.

“It is sad that schools and churches are main targets when communities go on protests. We request the police to strengthen their patrolling services around schools to secure the future of our children,” the MEC said.

[Source – South African Government News Agency, image – file]