Over 15 000 tablets given to pupils at no-fee schools across Gauteng by the provincial Department of Education in 2015 and 2016, are missing, reportedly stolen.

This is according to DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Education, Khume Ramulifho, who said the Department revealed this in a written reply to questions sent to it.

According to Gauteng Education MEC for Education, Panyaza Lesufi, between 2015 and 2016, a total of 122 smartboards and 17 520 tablets were stolen, with only 72 smartboards and 2 367 tablets recovered. This translates to 15 153 missing tablets and 50 missing smartboards over two years.

Speaking to htxt.africa, Ranulifho said the Department told him the tablets were stolen from schools and reported stolen, but didn’t indicate which schools were affected.

Ramulifho said on the surface, the ICT project appears to be working, but is experiencing the same problems faced in the implementation of Gauteng Online, a project which was launched –  and subsequently failed and replaced with Paperless Classroom’s – by Lesufi’s predecessor, which was also hit by theft of tablets in 2014 and early 2015.

A 2016/17 report by the Gauteng Provincial Legislature Education Portfolio Committee, pointed to a number of problems in the implementation of the ICT strategy in Gauteng Schools, according to Ramulifho, namely:

  • Poor project management;
  • Safety of devices;
  • Lack of WiFi connectivity at some schools;
  • The non-payment of contractors;
  • Underqualified or poorly skilled teachers in the ICT sphere; and
  • Lack of utilization strategy.

“MEC Lesufi and the ANC in Gauteng are falsely seen to be exceptional in the management of Gauteng, the reality is that the residents of Gauteng deserve a government that not only acts when the cameras are rolling but a government they can trust and that truly cares,” Ramulifho said.

Plans to recover the tablets have not been made public yet.

We contacted the Gauteng Department of Education for comment on the matter and had not received a reply at the time of this story’s publishing. We’ll be following up and reverting with a reply as soon as it is received.