ICT in Education
Gauteng Department of Education

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
Prior democratic era in 1994, the education system of previously disadvantaged communities mainly African majority was neglected as more resources were allocated to affluent white minority communities. The neglect of education system of previously disadvantaged communities is reflected in multifaceted socio-educational problems encountered in schools and communities even today. These include amongst others, poor management, vandalism, gangsterism, drug abuse, a high drop-out rate, poor academic performance, and demotivated teachers and learners. From the time the majority of schools were built in Gauteng during the apartheid era, no major revamped and renovation has occurred in no fees schools in poor communities to keep up with the technological revolution ensuing. The majority of existing infrastructure where the project was implemented are in dilapidating state and requires relevant refurbishment in order to meet the expected classroom standards that will allow and promote innovative interactive teaching and learning. Against this background, the improvement in poor communities was identified as critical for learner success and performance and remains one of the main goals in education today. The Norms and Standards for School Funding Policy (2000) categorises schools into fees paying school (least poor) and no fees schools (poorest schools). A number of fee paying schools have adopted the use of ICT for classroom activities as parents in these schools could afford to buy tablets and smartphone for their children as compared to the majority of parents in no-fees schools cannot afford. Therefore, the intervention to bridge the digital gap between the rich and poor communities was deemed necessary. Through ICT intervention, one of the objectives were to bring the no fees schools to the same level with schools found in affluent areas in terms of infrastructure as well as learner performance. Key changes introduced to improve the education system of learners from poor communities in Gauteng Province over the past 20 years: • Creation of the Office of Standards (OFSTD) in 1999: This unit was established to monitor education standards across the province including bench-marking of organisational performance and levels of learner achievement. • Establishment of Education Action Zones (EAZs) in 2004: A significant departure from the first term, EAZs provided poorly performing schools with a dedicated team established under the Office of Standards to turn these schools around with quick wins and long term interventions. • Introduction of the Senior Secondary Improvement Programme (SSIP) in 2009: The strategy was driven by the curriculum unit to target matric learners at poorly performing schools. The system ensured the provision of learner support material for educators and learners. • Introduction of ICT in Education in 2014. The fifth newly appointed provincial Minister of Education, in 2014, announced GDE Information Communications Technology (ICT) and e-Education strategy as a cornerstone of the transformation to improve education outcomes – in particular, learner achievement and attainment – rapidly and at scale. It aims to enhance teaching quality, access to materials, learner engagement and school administration by training teachers and introducing devices and smart software into the classroom.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
The initiative entails the introduction of ICT in Education which spells out the need for 6 vital ingredients and these include connectivity, e-content, teacher training on ICT usage, refurbishment of classrooms, school administration and more importantly learner engagement and attainment.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
Out of 2093 public schools, 375 schools were targeted for implementation of ICT in their schools. These types of schools fall under the category of no-fees schools and the department fund them 100% as they are located in poor communities in the province as compared to fees paying schools that are well resourced and parents pay fees to augment the subsidy provided by the department. Therefore, the following interventions were implemented: ■ With regard to connectivity and access, classes were equipped with necessary electronic equipment including sufficient plugs to charge the gadgets, workstations, servers, projectors, interactive whiteboards etc. In addition, cabling of LAN and WAN points for all workstations were done as critical part of the project. The availability of digital educational content that is appropriate to meet the educational need of both learners and educators was deemed essential. ■ Teacher Centres facilities were upgraded and improved to serve as a district hub for teacher development, training and support. In some schools, Henry Gwala Centres were built and resourced to provide technical ICT support to teachers whenever the need arose. ■ The implementation of ICT in Education required the classrooms to be revamped. The refurbishment implemented in number of classrooms included installation of smart boards, dark blinds, lights and other amenities. ■ ICT Capacity Building involved training of teachers, district officials and learners. Teachers were trained on hot to use the smartboards, laptops and e-content uploaded on these devices. The learners training focus on the usage of tablets while members of the communities were provided with basic training to oversee and monitor the utilisation of tablets by their children at home. ■ The devices that were distributed as part of the ICT roll out included teacher laptops, learners tablets and smart board installation. ■ The digital educational content that is appropriate to meet the educational need of both learners and educators were made available to schools. The digital educational content provided to schools covered various learning areas such as Mathematics, Social and Natural Sciences as well as African languages. In addition, teachers were capacitated to access additional available resources that were available online free of charge and not to rely only on downloaded lesson plans provided for them by the Department. ■ To safeguard the investment made to the piloted schools, the Department improved the security features of each of these schools. These include the installation of security doors and cameras around each school. In order to ensure that there is no misuse of tablets by learners, the department has developed a “Practical Guide for using ICT in schools by learners and workshop has been facilitated.” In addition, learners were provided with the Consent Form to be signed-off by parents to ensure that both the parents and learners were aware of their responsibilities on the general use and safekeeping of the devices. To minimise the loss of tablets given to learners, the profile details including identification number, class, subjects and home address of each learner were linked to the learner card. In case the gadget was lost, a learner would be expected to report to the service provider tasked with the responsibilities to track missing tablets for activation. Through partnership with Community Safety Department, a sergeant was allocated in the nearest police station to assist with retrieval of the gadgets once its location was tracked.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
The didactic model of the majority of school in disadvantaged communities changed instantly. Teachers are no longer standing in front of a chalkboard explaining concepts to learners. Interactive whiteboards were installed in all the classrooms together with surround sound and the teachers used e-pens instead of chalk. Teachers create their own multimedia lessons that involve all modern aspects of video, music, skype lessons and discussions, social networking with peer-teachers and with their learners, creating blogs or designing their own websites. Teachers use a range of support material that enhance their teaching and they integrate these resources into their lesson plans. Lessons are now captivating and learners learn by self-discovery. Teachers are now facilitators and researchers. Instead of overloading learners with information, they use the Constructivist’ approach to learning. This means that students learn before a subject is covered in class. Learners investigate problem situations and develop solutions that are presented to the peers. They become skilled in the use of multimedia presentation skills like the application of PowerPoint, Skype, video stories, social media and so on. As researchers, teachers source their digital support material which is in line with the CAPS curriculum and which enhances what the curriculum demands.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
Given the complexities of the project, the implementation required the Gauteng Department of Education to establish different structures at Head Office, Districts together and School levels. The first-tier administrative structure was the establishment of the ICT Steering Committee at Head Office which comprised of senior representatives from different branches, directorates and districts. The ICT Steering Committee is chaired by the MEC and meets every week to take stock on the progress and address challenges encountered during the implementation process. This is essential to any organisation to be able to deliver on the project of this magnitude. During implementation, consistent assurance by the executive is always provided to allay fear to teachers who had a phobia for technology or area reluctant to embrace new pedagogy. The involvement of selected principals of different schools as part of the Task Team also help to ensure that they were empowered on all matters related to the project and enabled the principals to communicate from an informed position. On the other hand, the establishment of the District ICT Task Team is strategically important in providing direct support to schools. The last-tier administrative structure was at school level. This structure; known as School ICT Governance structure is established to reflect on the day to day ICT challenges that had a potential to impact negatively on teaching and learning, and they were mandated to come up with immediate solutions. It can be argued that the establishment of these structures assisted to strengthen communication among the schools, districts and the Head Office which allowed for a seamless, timeous and speedy resolution of technical challenges that teachers experienced in their schools. Further, these structures will ensure that the work in relation to the project is well coordinated, data is gathered, reports are consolidated, and decisions are tracked and implemented and interfaced with relevant key stakeholders to ensure the buy-into the project. Owing to anticipated resource constraints, the GDE has adopted a phased-in rollout approach as well as private/public sector collaborations and/or partnerships. A pilot group of schools, also referred to, as the 5+2 schools was identified to test the validity of the concept as well as the processes that should be adopted for this project to succeed. The pilot study is made up of an assorted group of schools in that not only is the make-up of these schools diverse in the level(s) of education i.e. 5 High schools and 2 Primary schools, they are also diverse in the school populous make-up as well as stages of ICT usage, ICT familiarity and access to ICT. Schools such as Sunward Park High who have the benefit of a head start with the introduction of ICT much done earlier than 2014 compared to the rest of the pilot group was included to shed light. The project is now expanded to include the 375 no fees schools Grade 12 and 11. The following people benefitted from the projects: • 61 920 learners received tablets in 2015 and 86 016 in 2016. • All learners who received tablets were further trained on how to use the tablets. • The number of laptops that were distributed to teachers in 2015 were 6 925 and 7 645 in 2016. • 11500 teachers received ICT training in 2015 and close 15000 in 2016. • District officials, principals, HOD and parents also receive ICT training.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
The implementation of the ICT in Education started with the development of GDE ICT and e-Learning strategy in 2014 when the new MEC for Education in Gauteng Province, Panyaza Lesufi. To implement the strategy, the GDE took numerous steps to initiate the implementation of the strategy. The GDE identified pre-requisites across 10 areas that are necessary for creating a foundation for successful implementation and sustainable operation. These activities were completed in advance before going to market to procure services and rolling out the strategy to advance detailed planning, stakeholder alignment, identification of funds, and establishment of the delivery platform. The 10 thematic areas are: ■ Secure approval of and sign-off for GDE ICT strategy and the required budget. ■ Achieve GDE ICT strategy compliance with SA legal framework. ■ Develop communications strategy for various stakeholders. ■ Develop standards and specifications for ICT enablers. ■ Establish a Delivery Unit. ■ Establish project governance structure. ■ Develop criteria for selecting schools for rollout. ■ Create a school rollout plan. ■ Design a simulation centre. Key work streams considered for the implementation of the solution were established and comprised of the following: • Technical Hardware for classroom workstream • Technical support centres for learners and educators workstream • Refurbishment work stream • Security work stream • Connectivity work stream • E- Content work stream • Training and Support work stream • Stakeholders Management Work-stream The coordination of the different workstreams was done through the establishment of the dedicated Operation Centre Team headed by the Project Manager with expertise in ICT. In addition, the District ICT Task Team and School ICT Governance structure was established with clearly defined roles and responsibilities. The other structure include the Harry Gwala Centres tasked with responsibilities to provide first line support and logging of service calls. The Table below constitutes the five-year rollout plan: Phase Activity Timeline Phase 1 Launch of the Pilot (5+2 Schools) January 2015 Phase 2 Grade 12 classrooms in no-fee paying schools July 2015 Phase 3 Grade 11 classrooms in no-fee paying schools 2016/17 Financial Year Phase 4 Consolidation of Grade 12 and 11 2017/18 Financial Year Phase 5 Consolidation of Grade 12 and 11 2018/19 Financial Year Funding of the project The project was funded from the budget allocated to the department and sponsors mainly private companies. As the project was introduced during the middle of the financial year, reallocation was done to fund the project. Before summarised some of the cost related to the project implementation which was mobilised. High level activities and budget implications Distribution of learners devices Indicators/Measures Baseline 2015/16 2016/17 Target Grade 12 Grade 11 Distribution of tablets to learners. Number of tablets distributed to learners 61 920 86 016 Budget R 284 832 000 R 395 673 600 Distribution of teacher laptops Number of laptops distributed to teachers 6 925 7 645 Budget R 47 782 500 R 52 750 500 Installation of classroom devices Number of classroom installed with devices 2 351 3 468 Budget R246 855 000 R 364 140 000 Refurbishment of classrooms Number of classrooms refurbished 2 351 3 468 Budget R211 590 000 R 312 120 000 Provision of network solution to schools to ensure connectivity Number of micro servers installed 2 351 3 468 Micro Servers Budget R47 020 000 R 69 360 000 Capacity Development 6 ICT subjects’ specialists deployed to TDCs located in each of the 15 districts for 3 years. Development of e-resources and implementation of the Learning Journey per stakeholder. R64 000 000 R72 000 000 e-Content e-Books and Multimedia e-Content: Provisioning, Development, & Enhancement for GDE Cloud & Ownership R200 000.000.00 R226,131,690.00

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
The vision of modernizing education in Gauteng Province was conceived immediately when the African National Congress (ANC) ruling party assumed power after winning the fifth general election in the province in 2014. During the State of the Province Address on 27th June 2014 and again during the opening address by Gauteng Premier David Makhura at the Gauteng Senior Management Service Conference on 13 August 2014 in Birchwood, Ekurhuleni, he tabled a policy proposal to decisively move Gauteng forward in line with the National Development Plan and the governing party’s 2014 Manifesto which include a ten-pillar radical programme of radical transformation, modernisation and re-industrialisation (TMR) of Gauteng for deliberation and actioning by various departments, municipalities and provincial entities. The TMR includes the modernisation of public education and improvement of standards of performance of the whole system. Against these visions, the Department of Basic Education (DBE) and the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) developed strategies for effective modern education systems which were benchmarked internationally; namely: the DBE e-Education Guidelines; the GDE’s 10 pillars for education transformation; and the GDE ICT and e-Education strategy. In 2014/15 financial year immediately after assuming the office, the newly appointed MEC tabled the Gauteng Department of Education Five Year Strategic Plan to the Provincial Executive for approval in which the ICT in Education is pillar 6. Following the approval of the plan, the MEC immediately introduced the GDE ICT and e-Education strategy to the Executive Committee which was supported and adopted for implementation in 2015. The stakeholders involved in the project include amongst others: Stakeholder Group Key stakeholders Responsibility GDE MEC DDGs Chief Directors Relevant District Directors Principals Ensure that the project is implemented successfully DID DID Refurbishment of classroom DoF DoF Provide guidelines on payment process related to the project SITA SITA Provide support on IT roll out Service Providers Cloudseed USAASA Assist with connectivity at schools The stakeholders that were mobilised to ensure the success of the project include members of community who resided within the proximity of piloted schools, local police station, media, politicians, government officials from different spheres, private sectors, Non-Governmental Organisations, Community Based Organisations, Faith Based Organisations, Unions, school governing bodies s, principals, teachers, learners representative council etc.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
In line with the GDE ICT and e-Learning Strategic pillars, the following could be described as successful outputs of the roll out of the ICT project: • The Department managed to provide the beneficiary groups with the required skills, knowledge and competencies to integrate technology in the curriculum implementation; and administrative and communication processes in a sustainable manner. These include capacitation of parents, SGBs, learners and teachers from beneficiary primary and secondary schools with ICT knowledge and skills. These skills and knowledge are used to support learners in the use of technology by conducting training workshops. • Most of these schools have benefitted as the classroom were refurbished to be in line with modern education and technological changes. For example, the chalkboards were replaced with White Interactive Boards, LEDs while old desks in some classrooms were also replaced with new chairs and tables. • The training and development also included the deployment of technicians to beneficiary schools to provide on-site support to Grade 7 -12 educators on the integration of technology, didactic pedagogy, and content knowledge in the classroom. The Department also managed to equip subject advisors in all districts with knowledge and skills to use technology to enhance learning and teaching; by training them to operate devices, plan lessons, access online resources, use devices responsibly, and in classroom administration. Lastly, school-based ICT committees of six members each were trained to support the integration of technology in the beneficiary schools. The capacitation was also extended to the district ICT committees to support the integration of ICT in schools. • To safeguard the investment made to the piloted schools, the Department improved the security features of each of these schools. These include the installation of security doors and cameras around each school. • With regard to connectivity, the Department managed to equip each class with the necessary electronic equipment including sufficient plugs to charge the gadgets, workstations, servers, projectors, interactive whiteboards, charging trollies to recharge the learners’ tablets etc. • The digital educational content that is appropriate to meet the educational need of both learners and educators were made available to schools. The digital educational content provided to schools covered various learning areas such as Mathematics, Social and Natural Sciences as well as African languages. In addition, teachers were capacitated to access additional available resources that were available online free of charge and not to rely only on downloaded lesson plans provided for them by the Department.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
• The project was implemented toward the festive season which has pros and cons. The concern that was encountered related to procurements of equipments as most companies were closing for the festive season and these were rectify during the following season. • The ICT project was not delivered within defined timeline and budgeted cost. The project charter was developed clarifying the purpose, mandates, roles and responsibilities of the project team. • During the implementation of the project, it was observed that tight deadlines and dates defined by members of the work stream to reach certain milestones were not realistic. Most leaders of different work streams did not adhere to the project plan because the dates of deliverables kept on changing. The MEC has to ensure that the project plans are sing-off and monitored regularly. • The challenge with regard to flow of information from the Task Team to the districts and schools emerged as there was inconsistency in their reports. To narrow the gap, it was suggested that school principals should form part of the Technical Task Team. • The roll out of infrastructure is meaningless if there is no buy-in from the intended beneficiaries such as learners, educators, school governing bodies and leadership especially the principal. Imbizos (large meeting gathering) were held to ensure buy-in. • Any ICT project has elements of change management and personnel often experience fear and uncertainty about what the future holds for them. During implementation, consistent assurance by the executive assisted in allaying fear and enabled teachers who had a phobia for technology to embrace the project. The involvement of principals of different schools as part of the Task Team helped to ensure that they were empowered on all matters related to the project and enabled the principals to communicate from an informed position. The change management was also introduced.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
The preliminary findings conducted revealed the following: • Learners have information right on their fingertips. They download notes and information to finish their school projects. • The teachers download lessons from the different smart teachers websites and their content knowledge has improved. • The schools reported that attendance of learners has improved where it was a problem before the introduction of the Smart Schools Project. In some cases the schools report a 100% attendance for the whole week. • The other notable factor is that the other learners who had dropped out of school have come back to enrol again. • Computer literacy of the teachers has improved. • A renewed approach to learning and teaching. Learners are tech savvy and would rather approach their devices than textbooks. Learners are empowered to approach studying and learning in a new way. • Learners review material at their own pace and are encouraged to work in advance. There has been an improvement in the completion of homework. • Learners can contact their teachers when they don’t understand instructions while at home. • Teachers on the other hand, now have a variety of resources at their fingertips. Instead of being confined to one source (textbook), they support the subject content with various forms of multimedia which learners will be interested in. • Teachers now communicate with other subject teachers and network with subject bodies. • Administration at school has been improved. Several administrative tasks that teachers were saddled with and viewed as time wasters are now easily completed. In this regard, the daily registers, moderation of tasks and assignments and the recording of marks. Teacher administration like recording results, monitoring curriculum delivery and reporting has improved remarkably. • The time saved by ICT makes more time available for developing learners and honing research skills. General school administration has been streamlined and instead of presenting cumbersome files of information to District facilitators or Inspectors, we now present them with digital files which is more organised and time-factor efficient. • Communication with all stakeholders has improved. The money spent on paper usage has been reduced completely. • Academic results have improved considerably including the quality of tasks and assignments submitted. • The access to the sources selected by their educators and placed on the Intranet guarantees a higher level of learning. Learners have more than one opportunity to learn a concept now. They virtually take their teachers home with them. • Digital Resources: Teachers write their own resources and improve the quality of existing sources. • Digital pedagogy: Teachers use the interactive white boards. • Teaching via Skype. Teachers connect instantly and the one English teacher can talk to all the matrics simultaneously. • Digital administration: Reports, statistics and records are delivered instantly when required. • Matric performance in ICT stabilising. The provincial pass of Grade 12 ICT schools has improved from 78% in 2015 to 79% in 2016. • Literacy rate has improved • Overall classroom discipline and management is more controlled as learners are always occupied with some aspect of a lesson using ICT. There are several games to support concepts in subjects.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
The Gauteng Provincial Government has adopted a 10 pillar programme which one of the key deliverables involves modernization of education and the Gauteng Department of Education as the custodian was requested to take a lead. In addition, the National Department of Basic Education has developed e-Learning published White Paper on e-Learning and every provincial education department is expected to make a contribution. As part of accountability to national department, the department produces monthly report and submits to the Council for Education Ministers. With regard to accountability to provincial government, the Portfolio Committee on Education independent conducts their own assessment on the Schools Information and Communication Technology in Gauteng Province and produces a report. The focus of a study by Portfolio Committee is mainly to examine the functions and responsibilities of the Gauteng Department of Education in attaining the implementation of ICT Programme in the Province and assessing how the support provided improves school teaching, learning, attendance and performance of learners. It furthers aims to examine the infrastructural issues that pertain to refurbishments and renovations of classrooms that are suitable to accommodate the “School of the Future” and most especially the role and responsibilities of the GDE in assisting schools in rural, semi-rural/peri-urban or farm schools which are in the outskirts areas in the Gauteng Province as outlined in the GDE’s “Information and Communication and E-Education Strategy. In addition, as part of accounting to the members of the public, the department is required to set up achievable targets in the Annual Performance Plan and report quarterly on progress made to the Office of the Premier, Legislature, Department of Basic Education. Furthermore, the department is expected to hold Imbizos (meetings) to present quarterly report on deliverables and commitment made on the public members. The ICT project has further been identified as by the Premier as strategic project to realize modernization pillar and the department account as part of deliverology. To ensure integrity in the implementation of the project, the Auditor General of South Africa and Gauteng Audit Services annually audit the project and present findings on the project for interventions to improve on gaps identified. The audit reports are made public for any member with keen interest in education to interrogate the report and raise issue of concern.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
The policies that were approved and address the women and girl issues including the following: • GDE Employment Equity & Gender Equality & Women Empowerment • GDE Employment Equity Policy • GDE Employment equity Plan • GDE Disability Rights Policy • Supply Chain Management Policy • Leave Policy • Flexi time policy • Transport Policy (allows women to transport their children in a GG car provided the supervisor has approved due to operational reasons) • Protective Clothing policy The above policies help the Department to actualize the Transformational goals of the country by: • Promoting gender equality and ensuring that all programmes/ projects done addresses this. • Eliminate any form of discrimination and harassment • Uplift the economic freedom of women As part of implementing GDE Employment Equity Plan, females were targeted in recruitment when appointing ICT Project Team, 600 IT technicians to support schools and constituting the ICT Steering Committee at the Heaoffice, district and school level. Since the inception of ICT project in schools, girl learners were encouraged to pursue ICT career and there are now more girls who are interested on the use of ICT and taking IT as subject in school. As part of implementing the Supply Chain Management, women own companies received preferences when appointing services providers to refurbished classrooms and providing other goods and services related to the projects. Women were targeted to attend ICT training, leadership training interventions, mentoring or coaching, on-the-job training. Awareness Programmes were put in place to sensitize employees on Gender equality, Gender mainstreaming, Reintegration of people with disabilities (majority are women) and provision of reasonable accommodation through provision of assistive devices and adjusting one’s job requirements. The Head of Department always meet with female directors to establish the progress made by GDE to advance women. All directors are assessed against the Gender as a performance indicator in their contracts.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Gauteng Department of Education
Institution Type:   Academia  
Contact Person:   David Makhado
Title:   Education Research and Knowledge Management  
Telephone/ Fax:   0113550560
Institution's / Project's Website:  
E-mail:   david.makhado@gauteng.gov.za  
Address:   No. 6 Hollard Street ,Marshalltown
Postal Code:   2001
City:   Johannesburg
State/Province:   Gauteng

          Go Back

Print friendly Page