The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) has announced an investment of R1.2bn into E-learning, with the intention of providing better access to information for students and schools across the province. The funds will largely be ploughed into the setting up, as well as upgrading of internet and wireless network facilities at various schools in the region.
The first step of the department’s E-learning plans will see the introduction of a high speed, wide area network (WAN) that will seek to connect all schools in the province. The first group of school to receive the new facilities are expected to go online in April.
“This is one of the most critical elements to fully incorporate E-learning. This component is currently in implementation mode, and 366 school sites have already been surveyed for implementation. In addition, there are 1250 schools that will be connected to high speed broadband by July next year,” said WCED MEC, Debbie Schafer.
Apart from connection to a WAN, more than 510 schools will also be assisted with setting up local area networks (LAN), which will allow all devices at the school to run on one systematic network. These facilities will mainly be rolled out to the Western Cape poorer schools, as well as special needs schools.
“We will then (seek to) support as many schools as possible to install LANs, where money allows. This is even if it is in partnership (with the schools),” she explained.
Schafer said the WCED had also resolved to provide 3350 ‘smart classrooms’ to around 248 schools, by the end of the year. In addition, the department would also be updating its ‘Kanya laboratories’ initiative, be refreshing technologies at several institutions.
“Any learners that have got their own devices will be able to use these facilities. We don’t have enough money at this point to give everybody a device, so we are looking at doing the laboratories where they will be able to access devices,” she stated.
She added that the WCED would be looking at developing a model, which would help businesses in the private sector seeking to plough money into education.
“We are busy registering a foundation whereby people can donate money towards specific projects relating to our broadband. We are hoping to bring as private sector people on board to help us with that,” she noted. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)