There is a general lack of understanding about the merits, as well as the pedagogic use of technology in education. While South Africa has an advocacy programme, there is still a lot more work to be done in this area. 

Kobus van Wyk, head of E-learning at Mustek, the country’s largest assembler and supplier of personal computers, is an experienced player in the field of e-learning (use of technology in education) and has been involved in numerous projects to provide IT hardware and support to schools and educational organisations, across the country – working closely with both the private sector and government.
He shares his perspective on the South African education system, e-learning, and opportunities and best practices for education and e-learning in 2013.
What does the year ahead look like for technology in the local education sector?
Exciting. The National Department of Basic Education (DBE) is putting large emphasis on the use of technology in education, or e-education as they call it.
In its document, Action Plan to 2014, chapter seven is entitled “The importance of e-education”, with some ambitious goals set for 2013 and 2014. This adds impetus to the implementation of e-learning initiatives in the different provinces.
What role will e-learning play in this space?
Although e-learning is already happening in isolated schools, it still has to get going at a much broader level. E-learning can make a huge contribution towards alleviating the bad state of education in South Africa. For more detailed insights about this, see this blog post: How to fix South Africa’s education.
What are the most exciting opportunities in the education space at present?
The worse the situation, the greater the opportunities. Extremely low literacy and numeracy rates, poor matric results, too few maths and science passes: e-learning can play a significant role in resolving (or at least massively improving) all of these problems.
Mustek is an experienced partner to schools in this space, and it is their mission to work together with government and other organisations and institutions to provide the technologies required to make e-learning happen in schools.
During 2012 it became very apparent that the use of tablets and mobile devices, will play an increasingly important role in education in the future. Mustek engaged in considerable research into the merits of these particular devices, and specifically how these tools can best be used in the classroom.
Mustek knows that tablets are taking the education world by storm outside of South Africa (and Africa), but locally there is still some work to be done to extol the value of tablets and how they can improve teaching and learning. Mustek looks forward to maximising this opportunity in 2013.

What are the key hurdles/challenges facing this market?
The greatest barrier to e-learning is a lack of understanding on the part of the decision-makers in education departments, about the role technology can play in education. In 2013, Mustek will continue to focus on its advocacy programs to inform, educate and influence stakeholders to buy into related concepts. Mustek will also be assisting education departments with the establishment of implementation plans.
Another challenge is the ever-changing nature of technology. Yesterday, people used laptops, today it’s tablets – tomorrow will bring a new platform of technology. One could be distracted by focusing too much on specific technologies. Van Wyk believes it is imperative to begin with assessing the educational needs, and then determining which technology would best support them from there.
How will South Africa perform in this sector in relation to the broader African and global context?
South Africa is lagging behind the global community (and is not even a leader in Africa) in the field of e-education/e-learning. A lot of work needs to be done in order to catch up. Of course, this makes the opportunities so much greater too which is hugely positive.
What the top tips/pieces of advice to educators in SA?
Educators should get their hands on a device today. Experience it first hand, become familiar with it, and if they get stuck they should ask a learner to help them.