Rectron has confirmed that the South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) is to recommend that its members standardise on the Asus EEE , in a project that could be worth as much as R330-million. The deal includes access to affordable finance.
"This initiative between Rectron and Asus could be worth R330-million," says Zandré Rudolph, sales director at Rectron. "With SADTU membership amounting to some 300 000 teachers, one can do the maths and see the enormous positive potential of this project for all concerned.
"All educators need to have access to a computer and should be able to use it as an aid for implementing e-learning and e-education, regardless of the subjects they teach."
Rudolph says that, starting in September 2008, Rectron will work with SADTU in marketing the deal at a number of provincial conferences and, going forward, will target all departments in all educational institutions.
"To provide financial services for the far-ranging SADTU project, Bayport was approached to provide affordable financial services, and have agreed to come on board," he adds.
"As the exclusive Asus notebook distributor in South Africa, our close partnership with Asus has enabled Rectron to bring the right product, at the right price, to the table," says Rudolph.
"The Asus EEE PC family is a range of cost-effective notebooks with all the necessary functionality to make it possible for individuals to afford. Despite their low-cost, Asus EEE PCs are not inferior in any way. As they open the door for anyone to become part of the global ICT environment, they have been heralded the world over as communications tools that everyone should have."
Collin Fidelis, Rectron's executive head for business development, adds: "As a basic e-learning utility, this solution will make an enormous difference in how ICT is utilised and adopted by educators and learners in South Africa.
"Rectron is involved – like countless other players in the market – in a number of initiatives to bolster ICT in education, and this includes responding to numerous calls for RFPs from the Department of Education (DOE)," he adds. "Besides these activities, we also embarked on a specific mission to engage SADTU in proposing a total concept mobile solution to its thousands of members."
Fidelis believes this solution will allow SADTU to equip its members with the necessary tools for achieving one of the Millennium Development goals as enshrined in the Education White Paper.
The White Paper states that "Every South African learner in the general further education and training bands will be ICT capable (that is, use ICTs confidently and creatively) to help develop the skill and knowledge they need to achieve personal goals and to be full participants in the global community by 2013".
The initial engagement with SADTU stemmed from a desire to provide an affordable accessible means of bridging the Digital Divide by empowering educators, says Fidelis.
According to Rudolph, the SADTU project has been in the pipeline for the past three years.
"There has been quite a bit we have had to sort out, and it has been a challenge," he explains. "We had to look at this from all angles, including the resources involved, specifications, environment, usage models, delivery, responsible and affordable financing, after-sales service and support, and warranties. This has been a very complex project to put together."
He points out that most South Africans are "severely lacking" in ICT skills of even the most basic kind.
"While South Africa has some 47-million citizens, only 5-million are using PCs and, out of these, only 3-million have access to the Internet," he says.
"There is clearly quite a bit that needs to be done in terms of getting our citizens ICT literate. We are in the Internet era, and this is how we will be communicating and getting our information."