This World Teacher Day , the Wired for Life project hopes to provide more students and teachers with access to cutting edge education technology. The initiative has already impacted close to 80,000 classrooms and has empowered 1 million learners across the Gauteng province.
Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi, has madit his mission to ensure that Gauteng learners and teachers are equipped with tools that will allow them to succeed in a rapidly digitizing, tech-driven world.
“We need to be a part of what is termed the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’,”
“It’s about robots, it’s about driverless cars, it’s about coding, and our learners need to be part of that world. I want them to be a part of global innovation.”
Having realised that local schools and classrooms lacked the facilities and access to digital content and tools that would propel them into a competitive marketplace, Lesufi sought an education technology provider with an innovative and accessible solution, VastraTech, the South African distributor of SMART Technologies.
Gauteng has partnered with the SMART Technologies provider to ultimately provide every learner with a tablet, every teacher with a laptop, and every classroom with a SMART Board.
“I travelled across the world to explore and determine where the world is [with education],”says Lesufi. “I was at an expo in London, and I went through lots of products. When I saw the SMART product I said, ‘this is what I want.’”
Lesufi emphasizes that he recognised that SMART would provide a solution which could essentially ‘grow’ with South African learners, and that would be sustainable in the long term.
“MEC have chosen SMART and VastraTech as partners because we provide solutions designed specifically for education, and have the expertise in efficacy and implementation to make the rollout successful,”
says Gary Bekker, CEO, VastraTech.
“This is a hugely important project, because it aims to ensure that youth in South Africa have equal access and opportunities to 21st century tools – and seeks to enable them to compete in a highly competitive global marketplace.”
“When students have access to high quality technology, purpose built for learning, it can change their lives,” says Jenna Pipchuck, Director of Sales EMEA, SMART Technologies. “We’ve seen it happen around the world. We’re delighted to be working with Gauteng province to help its learners discover and develop the greatness within them.”
The Wired for Life project is now entering the fourth phase, and the rate of adoption and engagement is exceeding expectations.
“With more than 6000 classrooms equipped, the fourth phase of the rollout is showing promising early data around increases in student enrolment and the reduction of abandonment rates in the local education system,” says Bekker.
Teachers are reporting that learner engagement has increased and that SMART boards are creating a community of learning amongst students. Learners are able to work on their own as well as in groups and the introduction of technology is providing exciting future opportunities such as coding in schools.
Notably, the strategic initiative has required a significant level of commitment to drive it forward in order to transform the education system. This commitment includes teacher training, with VastraTech undertaking to train SA teachers around the use of interactive whiteboards and other cutting edge technology tools.
“We have over 200 facilitators on the ground, involved day to day in the lives of these teachers,”
adds Candice du Preez, COO, VastraTech. Since the launch of the project, over 4800 teachers have been trained to use the new technology and effectively implementing it in their classrooms.
“I’m giving ordinary South Africans opportunities to prosper,” concludes Lesufi. “To me, it’s an investment in the future.”