The Gauteng Department of Education is set to launch its second major IT initiative this year tomorrow. Some learners at 375 no-fee paying schools in the province return from their winter holidays in the morning, it’ll be to paperless classrooms.

According to a release put out by the department this morning, 17 000 tablets and and 1800 3D LED interactive boards are being distributed into 4 000 classrooms, predominantly in township and rural areas. We’ve asked the department to confirm that these are the same tablets provided by controversial IT company Cloudseed last year which were recalled at the start of 2015 due to lack of support in the form of training, software or security.

To support the new classrooms, renovations have taken place with new ceilings, special fitted lights, installing burglar-proof doors and window bars, electrical supply for smart boards and Рmost thoughtfully Рinstallation of window blinds so that pupils can see their displays.

Some 112 of the 375 schools targeted have yet to be completed, but the department says that training has taken place over the holidays and a launch is planned in Soweto tomorrow.

While this new initiative is part of a plan to make all classes in all schools in the province paperless by 2019, it is separate to the pilot projects currently running in seven schools which were announced at the start of this year.

Some educators and people involved in those projects have raised concerns that this latest announcement may be focussing on the wrong learners, however.

“At grade 12 it’s too late to start introducing tablets,” the DA’s shadow MEC for education in Gauteng, Khume Ramulifho, told, “It runs the risk of being distracting. You can’t introduce things like typing and new skills at grade 12, you need to start at primary level and take it up.”

Ramulifho says that he’s generally supportive of the drive led by Gauteng MEC for education, Panyaza Lesufi, to digitise classrooms.

“We want the project to be a success,” he says, “We spend too much on textbooks and distribution and storage. We can cut costs with tablets and provide innovative ways of learning.”

[Source – South African Government News Agency]