NATIONAL NEWS - The transition to online learning in South African schools has become a hot topic of discussion given the recent outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to Regenesys Business School director Indherani Reddy, technology has always transformed education but it has been exceptionally accelerated by the Covid-19 lockdown.
“The Fourth Industrial Revolution has changed how we use technology everywhere, especially in our classrooms, but how do we make sure that it equips children for a better future rather than used to simply keep them safe in the face of a pandemic?” asked Reddy.
Regenesys Business School hosted a webinar to unpack the ‘transition to online learning and digitalisation in South African schools’.
South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) general secretary, Mugwena Maluleke highlighted that while it is important to acknowledge the major transition into online learning, it is important to note that the system does not only revolve around the learner, but includes parents and teachers.
In order to increase and improve support across the board, the sector introduced its paperless education system six years ago.
According to Gauteng MEC of education Panyaza Lesufi, the paperless system was introduced to identify which schools require additional resources, training and equipment.
In turn, the system will be able to better equip and train teachers, help keep these teachers in their various communities and limit the migration of learners who are in search of better education.
“This is why the introduction of ICTs (information and communications technology) is so important. We want to bridge the gap between the poor and the rich schools, make it so that one teacher is able and willing to teach at a rich school and a poor school,” explained Lesufi.
Lesufi added that at the time of the webinar, every disadvantaged school in Gauteng from Grade 10 to 12 has been equipped.
The ecosystem revolves around five pillars: teacher development, e-content, connectivity, infrastructure and new products.
“There is one learner, one tablet; one teacher, one laptop; one classroom, one smartboard; and one school, one connectivity.”
He noted that through adequate support and the distribution of resources, the sector hopes to ease the transition into online learning.
Meanwhile, the department of basic education announced on Wednesday that the 2020 National Senior Certificate final exams would officially commence on 5 November and conclude on 15 December.
The department said the later-than-normal start to the exams would allow schools and pupils enough time to complete the curriculum, while leaving sufficient time for revision and study.
The department revised the calendar for the 2020 school year a week ago, after schools closed for a second time due to concerns over the peak in Covid-19 infections.
The exam period is expected to also see the sitting of candidates who were supposed to write their examinations in June.
The department previously announced that results would be released on 23 February 2021, while teachers will return on 25 January for the 2021 school year.