The information and communications technology (ICT) in education leg of Operation Phakisa has been launched to transform the basic education sector and leverage ICTs to strengthen teaching, learning and administration of the education system.
The Operation Phakisa ICT in Education programme, which would guide and accelerate the integration of technology and connectivity into teaching and learning activities – the pace of which had been slow and inadequate – was officially launched by President Jacob Zuma, in Boksburg on Friday.
Operation Phakisa's “big fast results” problem-solving methodology, based on a Malaysian programme aimed at improving performance in various sectors, was unveiled last year with the implementation of the inaugural Oceans Economy Phakisa segment.
This was followed by the implementation of Operation Phakisa Health, with plans under way to launch Operation Phakisa Mining in due course.
Now, following an intensive four-week ICT in Education main lab, a systematic and detailed roll-out plan for the delivery of curriculum through ICT infrastructure to schools across South Africa had been developed.
More than 120 key stakeholders and decision-makers had convened from September 2 to October 2 to produce detailed and measurable plans, as well as timelines for the deployment over the next five years, with five streams identified, namely Digital Content and Curriculum; ICT Teacher Professional Development; E-administration; Information Technology Lifecycle Management and Connectivity.
“This Operation Phakisa ICT in Education lab marks an overdue turning point in our quest to transform teaching and learning through the appropriate use of ICTs as envisioned by the 2004 White Paper on e-education,” Zuma told delegates at the launch.
Despite notable achievements and progress, with 92% of schools having at least one computer for administrative purposes, 28% of schools using computers or other devices to enhance teaching and learning and 49% of schools having access to connectivity, South Africa had not taken full advantage and exploited the potential ICTs held for education.
“The process has been characterised by unsustainable and fragmented ICT initiatives which lacked centralised coordination, focus and measured impact,” he explained.
However, building on the experiences and lessons of large-scale provincial and national ICT deployments, such as the Gauteng Online Project, the Western Cape Khanya Project and the current school connectivity project through the Universal Services and Access Obligation, the Operation Phakisa lab presented “concrete ways” in which ICT could be leveraged for educational development.
“It is the aspiration of the lab that our learners leave the schooling system as ethical, discerning and responsible users of information, as well as being ICT capable so as to make meaningful contributions to society.”
Teachers would be able to access the resources necessary to create effective learning opportunities for all learners, while ICT would strengthen the collection of school data through rapid, reliable and transparent flows of information between national, provincial and district entities and schools, boosting the efficiency of school administrators and facilitating the effective management and operation of the education system.
The ICT in education lab tabled a roll-out plan that included a costed implementation plan for all schools; a professional development programme for all teachers and administrators; a documented change management plan for ICT integration; and a monitoring and evaluation plan including the indicators for successful ICT use in all schools.