The twenty six public high schools in Gauteng which obtained a 100% matric pass rate in 2015 will be fitted with full ICT resources, the province’s MEC for education, Panyaza Lesufi has said.

This specialised strategy is part the¬†Paperless Classrooms ICT project and is the provincial government’s reward to well-performing schools. The ICT resources will be implemented from grades eight to 12 this April.

The measure is an incentive to encourage better matric and overall grades performance across the province.

“We are rewarding those who show commitment, if they give us a 100% matric pass, we then invest in their ICT,”¬†Lesufi said.

The department’s goal with Paperless Classrooms is to roll out tablets, smart boards and laptops first to matric classes and then work down to other grades each year and stop at grade seven.

The 26 schools will follow in the footsteps of seven other schools, including Sunward Park High School and Boitumelong Secondary School, which also received ICT resources across all grades when Paperless Classrooms was officially launched.

Plans for primary schools

The department’s ICT strategy for primary schools has a different approach to that of high schools.

Lesufi emphasised that young learners will still use the traditional pen and paper method of learning so as to train them in reading and writing, but that schools will still be equipped with smartboards in classrooms and laptops for teachers.

Primary school learners’ interaction with tablets will begin in grade seven in preparation for the transition into elearning in grade eight.

The first schools to go fully digital in the province began their paper free curriculum in January last year. Of the seven schools included in this pilot, however, all but one saw a greater drop in their average matric pass rate than the average for Gauteng. When asked about this by this morning, Lesufi was frank about their performance.

“They weren’t where we thought they would be, that’s true,” the MEC admitted, “But we didnt expect things to change immediatly. These schools were the first, and teachers panic, learners panic, officials panic. The pass percentage was not high, but the quality of passes was high. So the dividend is there.”

Lesufi also said that in schools which had been part of the “one learner, one tablet” project so far attendance among pupils and staff was higher than before, and the introduction of technology had noticeable impacts on motivation levels. An independent company, who he did not name, has been appointed to review the first year of the project and will report back soon.