My visit to Cofimvaba in the Eastern Cape was truly human empowering and hope inducing. Now, I know you probably got stuck on Cofimvaba, yes it took me a while to learn how to pronounce it properly and after my trip this weekend, I can now point it out on a map. I really need to travel more and truly explore the vast terrains of our extraordinary country.
Anyway, I digress so back to the purpose of this blog post. I had the opportunity to experience the impact of tablets in classrooms over the weekend. When we were appointed to assist the CSIR Meraka Institute to develop and implement a communications strategy for the ICT for Rural Education Development project, I had no idea how it would impact me personally.
Education is a major focus not only for those who truly understand that our equality lies in quality education (this is the only revolution) but also to those cynics, who sit on the bench and criticize every move those playing the game make. What differentiates the ICT4RED project that it takes an all-inclusive approach so steering away from models where technology is dumped in an environment where it has never been used as a teaching aid.
The ICT4RED project takes a holistic approach to successfully implement tablets
in schools as a teaching aid. The teachers receive professional development training using modules developed by Dr. Adele Botha and Maggie Verster specifically for the project. It also offers a Change Management Programme headed by Tebogo Reid aimed at managing teachers, who are reluctant to adopt new technology and converting them by addressing softer concerns. At the heart of the project are people who want to see the teachers grow they make the entire experience FUN!!!
The most inspiring moment for me was walking into a classroom, used as a study hub for grade 12 learners at the Arthur Mfebe Senior Secondary School and seeing all the students on their tablets. This moment not only brought the project to life for me but also moved my soul. I mean, here we are in rural South Africa and these learners are beyond comfortable using their tablets in prepping for their final exam.
The success of this research project is a culmination of so many dedicated stakeholders like the Department of Science and Technology, Department of Land and Rural Development, Department of Basic Education, CSIR, SchoolNet and many others bringing life to the notion that together we can do more but more importantly, in the words of Maggie Verster: “Technology is not about the tools, it’s about people.”