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Date: 16 Jul 2010
Title: Teachers welcome laptop initiative
By Gabi Khumalo
Pretoria - Teachers across the country have welcomed the roll out of the Teacher Laptop Initiative (TLI), saying they were looking forward to sharing ideas, learning from each other and improving the quality of the education system.
The initiative is focused at improving Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in teaching and learning and aims to ensure every teacher owns and uses a laptop, by providing them with a monthly allowance which will cover the purchase costs as well as the costs of connectivity.
The ICT package will consist of appropriate hardware and software, as well as, internet connectivity, all with prescribed minimum specifications. Teachers participating in the initiative will be required to utilize the facility in their teaching, as well as for administration.
On Thursday, teachers countrywide got a brief lesson on computer literacy, including connectivity of email, internet and the use of various software packages.
An overwhelmed Grade 8 and 9 teacher from a rural school in KwaZulu-Natal, Mkhatshwa Junior Secondary School, Mthunzi Mbewane hailed the initiative,
"It [technology] helps us to work smart. We will benefit a lot from the laptops as we will get information to assist us in improving our teaching skills.
"With this initiative, teachers will be able to share ideas and learn from each other on the methods they use in their schools to improve the standard of learning, especially for under performing schools," Mbewane said.
The TLI forms part of the cohesive plan by the department and other stakeholders in education to improve overall quality of education by making resources available to learners and teachers in the public education sector.
As from Monday, the qualifying teachers will be able to buy laptops from suppliers accredited to participate in the initiative.
The teachers would have a choice of packages, which range from R250 and R390 a month from suppliers that have been accredited by the department.
Each qualifying teacher would be given a monthly allowance of R130 but would have to add the rest.
The laptop package would include school administration materials and the national curriculum, as well as internet connectivity.
The suppliers include Dell, HP, LG, Pinnacle, Sahara, Vodacom, MTN, Lenovo, Fujitsu Siemens, Cell C, Mecer, and Telkom.
Launching the TLI, Education Deputy Minister Enver Surty said the initiative will enable teachers to access data information and be able to utilise it in their schools.
"Currently we have 80 percent information on learners in the data and next year we will have 100 percent and be able to track all of them."
He urged teachers to make use of the laptops, not only for themselves but learners.
Education stakeholders have described the initiative as a tool to expose teachers to the world of knowledge and help them improve the quality of teaching.
South African Democratic Teachers Union President Thobile Ntola welcomed the initiative, saying that the technology will allow the department to circulate information directly to the teachers.
"We commend the Education Labour Relations Council for taking a bold step to assist teachers," Ntola said, adding that well trained and supported teachers leads to quality of education delivery.
National Professional Teacher's Organisation President Ezra Ramasehla said the laptops will make a difference in helping teachers to deliver quality service in the classrooms.
"Education remains a tried and tested vehicle to take learners out of the vicious cycle of poverty, and the laptops have potential to expose our teachers to the level they have never been before," Ramasehla said. - BuaNews