Remote South African schools unready for digital future


South Africa's rural and township schools

JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) RURAL and township schools are at risk of lagging behind in the drive by South Africa to digitise the country’s education.

Against this backdrop, the divide between these disadvantaged schools and those in the so-called well-to-do areas looks likely to widen.

According to an expert, while there has been so much talk about how the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has catapulted the world into a digital future, the prospects remain dire for rural or township-based learners in South Africa.

“In Africa, we love to campaign the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) as if it is some kind of watershed transition into a prosperous tomorrow but the reality is different for the majority of South Africans,” said Dr Nadeen Moola, Research and Development Manager, at Marang Education Trust.

The organisation supports 85 township and rural schools across South Africa – investing in leadership and management development as well as curriculum delivery focusing on maths, reading and diversity in the classroom.

“Having visited many of these schools, I can tell you that most of them are struggling to cope with what has largely been expected of them by way of digital teaching and learning,” Moola said.

“Not only do they lack the equipment and the data, most of them struggle with connectivity. When you live in a region with little to no signal, you have little to no hope of ever joining any kind of digital revolution.”

The COVID-19 pandemic, ideally, should speed 4IR.

“Sadly, although there has been a strong emphasis on how COVID-19 has acted as a catalyst for fourth industrial revolutionary progress, my experience is that it has been an obstacle to the provision of quality, comprehensive, holistic education for too many South African learners…and teachers.”

In conclusion, Moola pleaded with the Department of Basic Education to fulfil its pledge of “Care and Support for Teaching and Learning.”

“I have found this often lacking when it comes to the implementation on the ground. Let’s not leave so many children behind, as we continue to talk big but struggle to follow through with action.”

– CAJ News







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