The Western Cape government signed a five-year LAN (local area network) contract with Sizwe Africa IT Group, for the provision of LAN equipment and services to schools in the Western Cape.

Premier Helen Zille and Minister Debbie Schäfer say in a joint statement that the implementation of LAN in schools is part of the Western Cape government’s wider e-learning vision for the province.

“We want to provide learners with the opportunity to improve their educational results and to integrate them into the 21st century world of work,” they state.

“E-learning will enhance quality education by increasing access to quality ICT in disadvantaged communities, providing support for struggling learners, contributing toward teachers’ training and professional development, and improving management and administration at schools. It will also provide learners with the skills to participate in our increasingly technology-based economy in the future.”

The e-learning project comprises the following:
* The linking of schools through a high-speed, realtime wide area network (WAN).
* The provision of local area networks (LANs) in schools.
* The refreshing of existing computer laboratories and the provision of new laboratories and technology rich classrooms (smart classrooms).
* The development and expansion of online digital resources that are made available to all learners, parents and teachers.
* Teacher training and development in ICT and the use of e-learning in schools.

The implementation of the broadband (WAN) is already underway. The WCG has completed the broadband infrastructure build at 460 sites, of which 344 are schools. This means that either optic fibre or wireless infrastructure has been installed at the 460 sites to date.

The WAN implementation will enable the WCG to provide LANs in schools. School sites will be fitted with a wireless distributed network (WiFi) for internet and inter-connectivity within a school.

In addition, the following has been completed or is already underway:
* Refresh of labs and smart classrooms – 123 subject labs and 126 computer labs have already been refreshed, as well as, 3 350 smart classrooms installed.
* Online digital resources – The WCED is sourcing and developing digital teaching and learning materials while also inviting developers of these materials to provide information on their products and services via an e-catalogue or portal on the WCED web site. The pilot design of the portal is live.
* Teacher training and development – Teacher training in ICT has been a major focus area for the WCED in preparation for the roll-out of broadband to schools and the introduction of e-learning. It is critical that teachers and principals are orientated and trained in the integrated use of the new technology being introduced at their schools and incorporating it into the curriculum.

Over the past couple of years more than 26 000 teachers in the Western Cape have had some training exposure to ICT. This year the WCED has presented a number of training sessions for principals, with specific training for teachers receiving smart classrooms, over and above on-going voluntary training for teachers.

Training of educators began in January at the Cape Teaching and Leadership Institute and will continue to be a primary focus area of the WCEDs teacher training budget in this financial year.