Address at the Handover of the 150 Telkom Foundation Schools Project to the Western Cape Education Dept by Mr Enver Surty, Deputy Minister of Basic Education, Ruyterwacht Pre-School, Cape Town: 29 July 2010
Programme Director, Ms Ingrid Graham
Honourable Deputy Minister of Communications, Ms Dina Pule
Honourable MEC, Mr Donald Grant
MD of Telkom SA, Ms Pinky Moholi
CEO of Telkom Foundation, Ms Reabetsoe Motsepe
Head of Dept, Ms Penny Vinjevold
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am delighted to address this vital ceremony, the handover of the 150 Telkom Foundation Schools Project, by Telkom, to the Western Cape Education Department.
Since the advent of democracy in South Africa, Telkom has demonstrated its unflinching commitment to the transformation of learning and teaching through Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs).
It has shown a deep grasp of the urgency, particularly for developing countries, to bridge the digital divide better to achieve developmental goals and improve people’s lives.
As early as 2004, the Telkom Foundation had infused life into our national infrastructure and connectivity drive. It had established “supercentres in more than 1 300 schools, providing computers, software applications, Internet connection, monthly subscription and a rent-free telephone line” (White Paper on e-Education, 2004: 12).
Therefore I wish to congratulate the leadership of Telkom and the Telkom Foundation as well as their business partners for the sterling work they are doing in support of the work of government in this critical area of ICT.
Through your efforts, those of government and other Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives from the private sector, you have indeed helped us make e-Education a priority of the Basic Education Department and of the SA government as a whole.
I wish to applaud the Western Cape MEC for Education, Mr Donald Grant, for the leadership and cooperation underlying the success of the Telkom Foundation Schools Project.
The Telkom Foundation pilot project, involving 150 Schools in the Western Cape, has contributed greatly to the improvement of the quality of teaching and learning by expanding access to connectivity in both primary and secondary schools.
I have no doubt that these 150 schools will benefit from the three classrooms, at each school, that received from the Telkom Foundation, interactive whiteboards, projectors, laptops for teachers, broadband connectivity and payment of internet accounts for two years.
By creating a platform for the training of teachers, this project has aided us in advancing the goals we seek to achieve through interventions such as the Teacher Laptop Initiative.
The roll-out of the Teacher Laptop Initiative was officially announced early this month at Lotus Gardens, in Pretoria. It is part of government’s strategy for improving the use of ICT in the public education sector.
It is an initiative enabling teachers to acquire laptop packages that will assist schools to create an interactive dynamic environment for communication; to create opportunities for integrating ICT in the curriculum; to provide an appropriate and efficient platform for preparation of lessons, tasks and tests and to reduce the administrative burden of teachers.
As government we welcome your initiative. Together with other stakeholders, we correctly noted at the Teacher Development Summit last year, from 29 June to 2 July, that teachers continue to work in different and unequal contexts and with different levels of resourcing and support.
In its historic declaration, the Summit included the need to “enable teachers to improve their knowledge, competence, confidence, morale and professionalism.”
As a project partner, we appreciate the fact that Telkom has been involved in many development projects undertaken precisely for the benefit of all our nine provinces.
It has provided to schools, mainly in rural and disadvantaged communities, the much-needed computers, mobile libraries, science laboratories and computer labs for Dinaledi schools.
E-learning initiatives like the 150 Telkom Foundation Schools Project and other public private partnerships in the ICT area are central to our work and legal mandate as government.
I believe, together we can do more collectively to deliver on the e-Education goals and targets set out in the landmark White Paper on e-Education gazetted on 2 September 2004. The e-Education policy goal, as spelt out in the White Paper, says:
“Every South African learner in the general and further education and training bands will be ICT capable (that is, use ICTs confidently and creatively to help develop the skills and knowledge they need to achieve personal goals and to be full participants in the global community) by 2013” (2004: p. 17).
Only by bringing to our learners and communities resources often taken for granted, like e-mail and the Internet, can we speak of equity, access and social justice.
Since the 150 Schools initiative was a pilot project, we are tempted to ask the Telkom Foundation to continue supporting these schools. I am certain you will use lessons learnt to expand the project to many more schools.
The contribution of another important partner, the honourable Deputy Minister of Communication, Ms Dina Pule, together with her Department, has enriched our collective efforts.
I must also urge both teachers and learners to use these magnificent facilities as tools for realising their dreams. Louis Gerstner correctly said that:
“Computers are magnificent tools for the realization of our dreams, but no machine can replace the human spark of spirit, compassion, love, and understanding.”
With the combination of technology and corresponding human talent indeed the sky is the limit! Lastly, my message to you is that: ‘Competence in ICT is a fundamental competence in a knowledge society.’
We were reminded by the National Survey on Computers in Education in South African Schools, conducted under the auspices of the Education Policy Unit of the University of the Western Cape, as early as October 2000, that:
“The competitiveness of any economy in the global marketplace is to a large extent determined by its effective use of information and communication technologies.” Thank you.