South Africa has changed politically and economically in the past 10 years. Now it's time for education to follow. New models of learning are changing the concept of education in the country. The use of information and communication technology (ICT) has brought South African pupils in line with the 21st century. The Department of Education believes that developments in the ICT industry will create future job opportunities while providing top-notch education for today's pupils. The implementation of ICT in schools will focus on teaching young people who are growing up in the digital world. With ICT learning, also known as e-learning, technical skills will be developed. The Minister of Education, Naledi Pandor, said information and communication technologies were central to changes taking place throughout the world.
"The digital era has revolutionised the way society handles information, and advances in ICT have dramatically changed the teaching and learning process," said Pandor. "This has opened up new learning opportunities and provided access to educational resources well beyond those traditionally available." It is the Department of Education's goal that by 2013, every South African manager, teacher and pupil will be ICT capable. They should be able to use ICT confidently and creatively to help develop skills and knowledge they need to achieve personal goals and be full participants in the community. ICT learning will enhance the quality of teraching and reduce time spent on administrative chores.
"The public and private sectors will have to join hands to ensure that our children receive high-quality teaching through these technologies," Pandor said. "Significant investment is needed to assist the department, as we hope that through this initiative we will be able to turn our schools into centres of quality learning and teaching for the 21st century." "We want to ensure that every school has access to a wide choice of diverse, high-quality communication services which will benefit all pupils and local communities."
"The services provided by the initiative will enhance life-long learning and provide unlimited opportunities for personal growth and development to all."
The minister said the introduction of ICT to schools would create new ways for pupils and teachers to engage in information selection, gathering, sorting and analysis. In addition ICT could enhance the management and administrative capacity of schools. Experts believe that in introducing ICT, there should be a balance in teaching and learning methods. E-learning should recognise that its value is linked to its suitability to individual learning and teaching styles and strategies. "Learning through the use of ICT is arguably one of the most powerful means of supporting pupils to achieve the nationally-stated curriculum goals. It should, however, be thoughtfully selected and integrated into educational planning and management," warned one expert. "There are challenges facing the Department of Education when it comes to ICT installations in schools."
"The use of ICT learning encourages active, exploratory, inquiry-based learning and also encourages collaborative work among pupils and teachers." "Creativity, analytical skills, critical thinking and informed decision-making are some of the advantages of ICT learning."
Published on the web by Pretoria News on September 28, 2004.