SIM technology is reflecting the growing demand and adoption of mobility, and today that spans to all industries – including education. Mobile learning has particularly exploded during 2012. Long gone are the days in the past where students were reprimanded for secretly texting; nowadays schools have officially permitted students and teachers alike to bring their own mobile devices and gadgets as an innovative new learning initiative.
Continuing this momentum in South Africa’s Cofimvaba district, the Department of Science and Technology (DST) recently joined forces with the Department of Basic Education and the Eastern Cape Department of Education this week to launch the Cofimvaba Schools District Technology Project. Apparently, the project has been launched to help provide “technology-led innovations to improve teaching and learning in rural schools.”
So far, the project, which has racked up R6 million – or close to USD $650,000 – is set to roll out for 26 schools in the Nciba Circuit, which will hopefully lay out a roadmap of sorts for more potential projects.
Included in this initiative will be tablets for teachers, secure charging stations, a Wi-Fi network and an “experimental farm for the pupils and broader community.” Additionally, the project is aimed at making significant improvements to the entire state of education in the Eastern Cape, which has been described as being in a state of crisis, by targeting nutrition, health, water, sanitation and energy.
“The success of our science system is strongly dependent on improved performance at school level. While technology alone will not provide all the answers, one of our challenges is to apply the available knowledge and technologies to support learning and teaching,” explained Derek Hanekom, minister of Science and Technology.
Manager of Education and Mobile Learning at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research’s (CSIR’s) Meraka Institute, Merryl Ford, explains that “the group is seeking the most effective ways of providing digital content on tablets to schools, and what needs to happen in terms of training, content production and the management of the devices.”
Some movements being made in light of this are as mentioned adding secure charging stations similar to lockers with plug points inside of them, as well as providing free SIM cards from Cell C, a mobile provider in South Africa offering voice, data and messaging services to more than 10 million customers.
“This is an opportunity to show what rural schools can do if they are given the right opportunities. At CSIR, we like the difficult challenges, and if we can get it right in a rural school environment, we can get it right anywhere,” Ford concludes.
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Edited by Jamie Epstein