Kathy Gibson is at the E-Learning Summit in East London – The Eastern Cape has a clear vision to use IT and e-learning to help it meet its education goals.

Mfanawethu Cele, CES: e-learning at the Eastern Cape Department of Education, stresses that the EC DoE aims to ensure every child has access to quality electronic content, taught by dynamic and ICT skilled teachers. This will be enabled through appropriate ICT infrastructure and connectivity.

“If we are able to teach children in the way they wan tot be taught, we will become better teachers,” he says. “We need to take advantage of the existing technology to teach learners.”

When it comes to infrastructure and connectivity, Cele points out that this is a nationwide problem that needs to be overcome. “Why is data so expensive in this country?

“We need to ensure that learners have access to connectivity.”

The national Department of Basic Education has its own vision, which is to furnish each learner with a tablet, each teach has access to a laptop, and each school has a mini-server and projector. The infrastructure surrounding these devices like storage and charging trolleys, needs to be present.

“It also highlights professional development, digital content, connectivity, coding and robotics.

Cele stresses that professional development needs to go beyond being able to use available technology to integrating it in teaching and learning.

DBE has put together a plan to roll out this vision, piloting with multi-grade and farm schools now, then moving to quintile one to three schools and eventually all schools by 2025.

The EC DoE has already rolled out laptops to all of its GET teacher in the province, as well as 20 000 to FET teachers.

By 2017, the province had already installed 987 smart classrooms in 293 schools.

One of the EC DoE’s most successful projects is its broadcasting solutions, run out of Stellenbosch University.

The e-learning department runs its own web site, and has seen rapid growth in access: from 342 689 visitors in 201 to more than 8,5-million in 2018.

Self-marking tests are now being set online, together with online coverage surveys and reports. Principals’ satisfaction surveys and reports are now also online. The data-driven district (DDD) lets officials identify where additional support is required, and what is needed.

Cele says the department is running a number of mobile projects, like MathsUp for grade R maths and TouchTutor for grade 8 to 12 maths.

Schools are able to report infrastructure issues on the Fix My School app.

Teacher training is key, Clele adds, and this is being rolled out province-wide. The professional development courses offered include basic ICT integration, fourth industrial revolution orientation, telematics, the maths apps, coding, visualisers, and online forms and tests.