In order for South Africans to fully capitalise on the potential that Information and Communication Technology (ICT) holds for education, ICT must be encouraged in schools, says Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.
"We cannot leave our children behind when the rest of succeeding countries are connected.
"We have to find ways in Africa to get sufficient, sustainable and affordable connectivity to teachers and learners," said the Deputy President.
Speaking at the NEPAD e-Schools stakeholders' conference held in Kempton Park on Wednesday, Ms Mlambo-Ngcuka said ICT provides us with the means to achieve key components of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the Education for All
Declaration made in Dakar in the year 2000.
She said that through the use of ICT in education, we can ensure that by the year 2015, all children particularly the youth and girl-children have access to primary education of good quality and can standardise access to quality faster and cheaper.
"Through the use of ICT, we can ensure that the learning needs of all young people and adults are met through equitable access to appropriate learning and life-skills programme, this is as critical as access to energy and security," said Ms Mlambo-Ngcuka.
She added that we can also improve the quality of education and ensure excellence in achieving learning outcomes especially in literacy, numeracy and e-learning.
She also stressed a need for ICT to go together with Adult Basic Education Training (ABET) in poverty alleviation especially among women where micro-credit is a critical contribution.
e-Schools aim to harness ICTs in a bid to improve the quality of teaching and learning in African primary and secondary schools and allow African pupils to participate in the global information society and knowledge economy.
The initiative was adopted as a high priority New Partnership Africa's Development (NEPAD) ICT project by the NEPAD Heads of State and Government Implementation Committee in March 2003.
Currently, NEPAD has launched the e-Schools Initiative in 11 African countries in the initial phase of the project.
The business plan recommends different models for the continental roll-out such as the management and administration, communication, financing, common quality standards and the effective use of ICTs and information tools, for the initiative.
South Africa is carrying out a feasibility study on the implementation of ICT in teaching and learning aiming to widen access to high quality resources and learning opportunities for all teachers and learners.
The study also aims to expose all pupils in advantaged and disadvantaged areas to enriched educational experiences and provide to all pupils and teachers the means of communication and collaboration to enhance teaching and learning thereby give all pupils the opportunities to excel in a 21st environment.
By the end of the study in the second quarter of this year, the country will be able to present feasible models of ICT implementation including ICT hardware and software, access to broadband technologies, curriculum support and innovation, ongoing professional development.
"Government is looking forward to the outcome of this study, the sooner the better," the Deputy President said. - BuaNews