Digital classrooms enhance pupils learning

Silulami Nkqezo showing Emihle Ntenda and Iviwe Ndiyalwa same techno tricks.

Teachers and pupils at Litha Primary School in Gugulethu can look forward to learning in digital classrooms in the near future.

The school is one of the recipients of the eLearning Game Changer programme, a Western Cape Education Department (WCED) initiative, undertaken in partnership with the Premier’s office.

On Monday July 24, Premier Helen Zille and MEC for Education Debbie Schafer, who are leading the programme, attended the launch at the school.

Litha is one of 16 schools in the province identified to benefit from the roll-out of e-learning.

The school received tablets, an interactive white board, a server to store curriculum content and internet connectivity.

Ecstatic principal Sedick du Toit said the programme would serve as an eye-opener and change pupils’ lives for the better.

“This is manna from heaven to many of our pupils.

“They do have cellphones, but not all have smartphones. This is a whole new world for most of them.This is a real game changer. We are extremely proud to have been chosen to pilot the programme,” he said.

Mr Du Toit said the school’s selection for the programme showed that they were a school of excellence.

“We won’t let anything stand in our way. Teachers here are well-trained and motivated. Our results have been improving,” he said.

The excitement was all over the pupils’ faces.

Grade 7 pupil Emihle Ntenda said: “I am so grateful.

“I can do a lot of things nowdraw, calculate and search whatever I want to search on the internet,” she said.

According to Ms Zille and Ms Schafer, the provincial government is currently connecting schools across the province to high-speed broadband, via a wide area network (WAN).

Local area networks (LAN) and wi-fi connectivity are being provided for almost every site.

Alternative connectivity is provided to schools that cannot connect to the fibre-optic grid.

They said the department was also providing technology progressively in schools, from equipping smart classrooms and refreshing computer laboratories, to providing devices, teacher training and support.

Ms Zille praised the school’s teachers for their dedication in the programme.

“People were saying you cannot have teachers coming for training on weekends, but they were wrong. This school’s teachers were always there, willing to learn.

“That is why we have chosen the school to showcase the programme,” she said.

She added that middle and upper class children got all this at home.

“We chose eLearning as a game changer because of the potential to reduce the gap between poor and well-resourced schools, by improving access to the best education resources and support.

“The digital revolution is already affecting every aspect of life, including education.

“Digital technology has the potential to greatly enhance every aspect of schooling, from teaching and learning, to assessment, school management and parent support,” said Ms Zille.

She said their visit to Litha Primary had been inspirational because of the way the school leadership, teaching staff and pupils had embraced eLearning and were using it to the full.

Ms Schafer said the vision was to use eLearning to improve literacy and numeracy, and to ensure that pupils were better prepared for the 21st century.

She said in model schools, every classroom would become a smart classroom, and every pupil would be allocated a device.

“I am excited to be here today to showcase how well Litha has transitioned to become one of our model schools. This does not happen without strong leadership from the principal and school management team.

“Thank you for their commitment to improving the lives of the learners through eLearning.”

She said model schools were hubs of best practice, which would be shared throughout the province. Ms Schafer added that new eAdmin systems would free up teaching staff to do what they did best-teach.