21:04 South Africa paperless classrooms

South Africa is attempting to create paperless classrooms in its schools in an attempt to provide better education for its students, no matter what their background is or what school they go to. The provincial government has begun this project, which aims to equip schools around the country with 17,000 tablets, aiming to spend a total of 17 billion rand (equivalent to $1.3 billion) over the next few years.

This new scheme has already been implemented in a number of schools, but with it has come a new threat; thieves. If it’s common knowledge that all kids of a certain age are walking round with their very own tablet, then this is going to attract some unwanted attention. With their new devices, students are now also being provided with lessons on how to avoid muggers, with tips such as, “travel in groups and avoid wearing school blazers, which could attract criminals. If robbers pounce, don’t be a hero to save your tablet.”

Tracking software has also been installed in the tablets to deter criminals, and surveillance cameras are fitted in classrooms. Despite these measures, children are still being mugged for their tablets, and an entire shipment of 1,600 tablets was stolen from the supplier’s office in Johannesburg in September 2015. Criminals have also entered the schools to steal computers and interactive smartboards.

These threats are not discouraging the government from implementing their scheme, however, despite the dangers posed to the children. It seems there are other areas in schools where this money would be better spent, that would take the welfare of the children into consideration. For example, some schools still lack sanitary toilet facilities while others are receiving state-of-the-art technology.

Just a few years ago, in 2012, schools in Limpopo didn’t even receive textbooks to aid their learning. Teacher training is another area that could be better refined with these funds, ensuring that they are fully competent in their subject area, and trained to use this technology if it is going to be widespread in schools.

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