Gauteng rolls out smart phones & tablets to school principals

Image: Eye Witness News

Gauteng Education MEC, Ms Barbara Creecy, has launched an upgraded communication project which will further strengthen links between school principals and the departmental offices.

The project will see 2600 principals, district cluster and circuit leaders as well as officials responsible for human resource management and curriculum at head office, receiving a Samsung tablet and a new Blackberry cellular phone to support school work.

Every official will have a personal email address and will also be able to access data to facilitate effective communication. Rollout to all affected officials will be taking place this week, and will include training on usage of the devices by technical staff who are based in district offices to support principals’ queries.

The Blackberry phones received in 2010 by all Gauteng principals improved communication between schools, districts and head office.

However, principals complained that the Blackberry screen and keyboard did not facilitate more detailed communication. With the addition of a tablet, enhanced two way communication is now possible.

“This programme is part of our commitment to ensure districts provide relevant and coordinated support to schools,” MEC Creecy said.

“This year we are rolling out a new model of district support to schools. It means that clusters of 15 schools will account to a cluster leader who in turn will report together with other clusters to a circuit manager. These devices will enable schools to send accurate information and needs to the department and shorten response time.”

The project will also enable districts and head office to monitor daily attendance by learners and educators, and intervene where necessary. The human resource personnel are included in the programme so that principals can easily report problems such as late payment of temporary educators.

By the end of the year, GDE will be able to use the devices to monitor curriculum coverage in all schools from information supplied by principals. This will enable rapid responses by districts where schools are struggling with assessments or curriculum coverage.

The project will cost R15 million per annum for the 2600 principals and officials including the tablets. The phones have been configured so that they use a top-up prepaid system, so schools needing more airtime than that paid for by the department can do so.


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