Department commends parents of Masana Secondary school

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South Africa: The Department has noted an article by one of newspaper dated 14 August 2022, which purports that parents in one of the mentioned schools are concerned that Grade 12 learners are abusing the tablets which were meant to help them improve their academic performance.

The article further alleges that a decision was taken by parents to confiscate the tablets and return them to the Department because, according to the parents, these devices are not used for the intended purpose.

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Notwithstanding that the matter was not brought to the attention of the Department, the Department commends the parents of the said school for raising a concern about what looks like an abuse of teaching and learning material.

It is very encouraging for parents to convene a meeting and look at the performance of their children and further put in place measures to ensure that they work with teachers and learners to improve their learning experience.

The Department will get closer to this school, assess the developments and work side by side with all the stakeholders to ensure that learners stay focused on their studies and rightfully take advantage of the teaching and learning resources at their disposal.

The tablets were distributed to Grade 12 learners as a roll-out of the Ubuhlebuzile e-learning Programme. This programme was initiated by the Department to ensure that learners are granted multiple support considering the devastating negative effects caused by COVID-19 and subsequent lockdown, which aimed at protecting lives.

The Ubuhlebuzile e-learning Programme was launched on 05 April 2022 with a distribution of 55 000 tablets for Grade 12 learners and 6700 Laptops for teachers throughout the Province.

These tablets have supplementary education resources, including e-textbooks, previous question papers, and study guides, to make the learning experience of the current grade 12 class more meaningful.

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Teachers, too, received laptops which have the requisite teaching material to ensure that they are able to exercise their trade with ease.

All users of the provided solution are categorically allowed to access only identified sites approved by the Department as deemed necessary to assist with the primary objectives of this project, namely to improve the performance of the Class of 2022 and beyond.

The Department provides learners and teachers with data every month to enable easy access to the learning and study material, most of which is zero-rated.

Every effort was made by the Department, working side by side with the contracted service providers to ensure that access to these devices is only limited to educational materials and platforms.

To this end, access to undesirable and malicious platforms has been blocked.

Learners being children may explore means to access undesirable sites, which may be destroyed. However, the appointed service provider is able to track these unwarranted tendencies.

All learners have signed a consent form that binds them to conduct themselves in a manner that keeps to their school code of conduct.

There are several categories of websites and applications that are blocked to protect learners from any potential harm, knowingly and unknowingly so.

Based on the alert raised by parents of the said school, it, therefore, concludes that the learners might have used their devices connecting from either WIFI or Open Internet SIM from any other provider. However, this is to be investigated.

ICT Coordinators have been alerted to oversee the misuse of these devices by learners, and appropriate actions have been enforced.

The Department will send a team of officials to Masana Secondary School to probe the circumstances that led to the allegations and to ensure that such occurrences are not repeated.

The Department will probe these allegations of bridges and work with teachers, parents and learners to ensure that the devices are used for the intended purpose and to further tighten the firewalls that may lead to access to undesirable sites.

 

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