In 1998, Telkom SA (Telkom) made a commitment to provide 1000 Internet access points for schools in South Africa. This Telkom 1000 Internet Schools project was completed in 2000, with a contract for training and site visits completed by SchoolNet SA between October 1999 and June 2000.
In addition, Telkom undertook to establish 100 “Super Centres” from among the 1000 schools.
The purpose of the SuperCentres project was to improve the quality of teaching and learning in the selected schools through the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs), and increase the number of learners who are proficient ICT users.
For Telkom SA, the project contributed to the company meeting its social responsibility obligations, building a positive image of the company in the country, and expanding the potential client base for telecommunications services in the education sector.
For SchoolNet SA, the project contributed to its broad objectives of improving education through building online communities of educators and learners, and helping develop resources and knowledge of national importance for education.
The scope of the project was:
- To install computer networks of 21 PCs with a server and dialup Internet connectivity in 100 schools around the country
- To develop the effective educational use of the provided ICT facilities by running a programme of workplace-based, face-to-face and mentor-supported distance learning for teachers in self-chosen paths of development for computers and the Internet in education
- To provide appropriate technical training, onsite and telephonic technical support to the schools
- To conduct a monitoring and evaluation process that assesses the qualitative and quantitative impact of the project
- To carry out the above within a period of 20 months.
Identified constraints were:
- The selected schools should be chosen from the existing pool of Telkom 1000 Project schools.
- There should be an equal number of schools selected in each province.
1. Educational Objectives
The overarching outcome was to create learning communities of educators and learners that use ICT’s in education and in so doing to transform learning in the classroom. In addition to reliable technical infrastructure, this required equipping educators with the necessary skills to use ICTs to improve teaching and learning practice, and ultimately learner performance.
Competencies that the educators would be able to respond to as they determined their own development path according to their own needs were:
- Draw on generic ICT applications in order to prepare for teaching.
- General competency in those ICT resources that could most benefit their teaching and the learners’ learning.
- Access and use of electronic information and communications resources such as the Internet, for the benefit of both the educator and the learner.
- Use of ICT to improve their professional and administrative efficiency.
- Develop learners’ ICT skills within the context of the lessons being taught.
- Key learning strategies that influence the use of ICT to support teaching and learning.
- Organise the class and classroom when making use of ICT to achieve lesson outcomes.
- Understand the role of computer literacy, with particular reference to the educational use of computers as a tool in a diverse and developing country like South Africa.
- Knowledge and understanding of the characteristics of information and its role in learning
- Be aware of current health, legal and ethical issues regarding the use of ICT in the classroom.
- Assess the contribution of ICT to the process of learning.
SchoolNet’s teacher development process is described in outline in the Educator Development Framework.
2. Infrastructural Objectives
- To establish operational computer networks in each school, that function well over the period of the project
- To provide adequate training and technical support so that schools are able to operate and support the ICT facilities
- To ensure that the computers and Internet are easy to use and accessible to staff and learners, and that staff and learners use Internet and email on a regular basis
- To maximise the probability that the ICT facilities will be functional and sustainable after the project ends by selecting schools appropriately, and working with schools to develop income-generation and technical support models.
3. Development Objectives
The development objectives of the project were to maximise the usefulness of the processes, products, knowledge and services developed to the broader school community.
Project activities such as selection processes, teacher development programmes and sustainability models were thus regarded as additional outcomes in their own right.