Achieving equality through education technology in South Africa
The Western Cape Education Department is enhancing teaching and learning in one of South Africa’s most diverse provinces, through an award-winning technology initiative. The Khanya Technology in Education Project started in 2001 with a plan to install computer labs in all local schools. Five years later, a pilot project brought interactive whiteboards into five schools.
“Khanya tested several brands of interactive whiteboards, and the SMART Board® interactive whiteboard proved to be superior, particularly in terms of lesson content and support,” says the Khanya programme director, Kobus van Wyk.
They realized early on that one or two isolated SMART Board interactive whiteboards in a few schools would not achieve the desired results – the project had to reach a point of critical mass. There are now approximately 1,700 SMART Board interactive whiteboards in 534 schools, serving 22,000 learners.
SMART products helping schools overcome disadvantages
The Western Cape’s demographics vary dramatically, from affluent schools in major urban centers, such as Cape Town, to impoverished schools in isolated rural villages with inadequate infrastructure. One of the project’s biggest challenges was dealing with the disparity between well-funded and impoverished Western Cape schools.
Despite the challenges, those involved in the Khanya project found that the success of an interactive whiteboard implementation depended not on a school’s affluence, but on the willingness of teachers and students to engage with the technology.
“Thanks to the support of SMART Board interactive whiteboards, we are on track in bringing our learners up to speed with their peers. It is helping them shed the disadvantage of poverty by equipping them with the knowledge and confidence to take their rightful place in a future of their own making,” says Siddieka Hassen, principal at Capricorn Primary School, one of the schools involved in the Khanya Project.
Teacher training and engagement are keys to success
A requirement of the Khanya project was to install SMART Board interactive whiteboards only in the classrooms of teachers who demonstrated they could engage with technology and use it as a teaching and learning tool.
The training strategy involved training facilitators who visited schools to show other teachers how to use SMART products in their teaching. Additional training sessions, seminars and conferences, as well as ongoing support from both SMART and the local SMART reseller also contributed to the project’s success. As of July, 2011, over 28,000 educators had been trained and more than 900,000 students were experiencing the benefits of technology-enhanced learning.
“Our rewards are lessons where students and teachers readily interact in an exploratory learning process, which gives them confidence for life outside the school,” says Harvey Cupido, the former principal at Atlantis Secondary School, one of the Khanya Project participants.
You can read the full Khanya Project implementation profile to learn more about the project’s success.