Gauteng MEC for Education Panyaza Lesufi praises ITA for bringing ICT industry together and lays down a challenge
Gauteng’s MEC for Education Panyaza Lesufi had these stirring words for leaders of the ICT industry at a breakfast briefing hosted by SAP in Woodmead on Friday morning.
MEC Lesufi presented his vision for transforming education in Gauteng, saying the ICT industry plays a critical role in the roll out of technology and financial support.
“Our education system at the moment is like an Irish coffee. It is largely black, with white on top and sprinkles of chocolate. Until we change that Irish coffee and make it a South African coffee that doesn’t recognise colour, we cannot move forward,” MEC Lesufi said.
Through its Schools of Specialisation (SoS) programme the department of education is taking learners on a journey of self discovery – to realise their potential as the country’s brightest minds.
Schools of Specialisation will focus on particular disciplines such as maths and science, engineering, commerce and entrepreneurship, sport and the arts. By honing skills in these key areas, the department is aiming to transform schooling in Gauteng.
“It must not be where you were born that determines the quality of education you can access,” MEC Lesufi said. “The quality of education must present opportunities for our children. If we can’t do that, we will not succeed.
“Our education system currently is like a four-legged table – black, white, coloured and Indian. Let me tell you without any hesitation, that the leg that represents black education is broken completely. Where teachers don’t turn up for work, where it’s a free for all and no one wants to account.
“If we can’t fix this situation we will have a broken education system, purely because of the Irish coffee nature of our current system. We are recycling poverty in the township.”
Due to requests by government ITA breakfast briefings will become a regular event on the ICT calendar, and will include not just regional government leaders, but national ministers too.
It is estimated that based on the discussions in Friday’s briefing alone, opportunities worth an estimated R50 million to R100 million have been created.
MEC Lesufi said that the system needs the ICT industry to solve some of specific problems. The best teachers will be able to teach in poorer schools by broadcasting lessons on smart boards and tablets. The best teachers will be able to teach the majority of learners. “These lessons can continue even if there is a teacher strike.”
MEC Lesufi expanded on the provinces economic plans, focusing on finance, transport and tourism among others. He said education plays a critical role in supporting and sustaining these economic corridors.
“We have to let go of gold in the province. The gold is gone. The future gold of this province is our children. We have literally rebuilt some schools from the bottom up, putting in plug points and adding more power.”
The programme will equip each school and student with the special resources needed to excel at their chosen discipline.
The ICT industry will play a key role in establishing and maintaining the technology needed for such an ambitious programme. The first School of Specialisation open in April in Soweto.
ITA president Sunil Geness said: “The ITA was formed about 80 years ago, back when there weren’t even computers – they were using Morse code. Our members include some of the largest multinationals in the world. This idea also is being driven by ITA, Sci-Bono and many others. We came together to discuss what we can do collectively. Because ITA is the leader of our industry it was found to be prudent to have this engagement.
“According to our members, this is the best thing they heard all year. Some companies have already committed to donating the software to help with some of the issues faced in this project.
“We have the chance to create a Silicon Valley right here in Gauteng,” Geness said.
For more information visit the Gauteng department of Education Web site:www.education.gpg.gov.za