Newspaper clipping – The Mercury – 14 April 2009

Teachers to get allowance for laptops

Teachers in state schools are to be ushered into the digital age as the national education department rolls out its plan to provide permanently employed public school teachers with an opportunity to acquire laptop computers.

This was revealed by Firoz Patel, the department’s deputy director-general of system planning and monitoring, who said that R3-billion would be set aside over the next five years to bring the project to fruition.

About R550-million a year would be to provincial education departments over the five-year period as part of the plan. Patel said the plan had been formulated after the department and teachers’ unions failed to agree on a performance reward system for teachers.
            “We decided that giving teachers an allowance to buy computers was the best solution. We presented the proposal to unions and the response has been very positive. This will bring teachers into the twenty-first century with technology,” he said.
            “It will be useful in helping them gain access to additional teaching resources using the internet which the department will make available. It will help teachers with administration, teaching and learning. The plan will be rolled out over the next two years and is part of the conditions of service for teachers,” said Patel.

Teachers would be given a monthly allowance of R130 towards buying a computer. Data connectivity would be part of the package. He said that about 60 000 teachers throughout the country had received computer training and about 290 000 were still be to trained.
            “But we won’t wait for the training to be finished to roll out the plan.”

Sipho Nkosi of the South African Teachers Union (Sadtu) welcomed the idea, saying that it would improve education.
            “We are happy about this and we hope that teachers will have access to email and the internet so they will have up-to-date information which will help them in the classroom. It’s a great idea,” he said.

Alan Thompson of the National Teachers Union also welcomed the initiative. He said the union would hold a meeting with its members to brief them about the plan.

Anthony Pierce of the Naional Professional Teachers Organisation of South Africa, Naptosa, welcomed the idea, but cautioned that the department had to ensure that the plan was protected from any fraud, as this was “ an expensive exercise”.