As South Africa prepared to celebrate World Teacher Day little over two weeks ago, it was critical to draw attention to leaders and companies that are working to strengthen and uplift the country’s embattled education system.
One such leader is Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi, who has made it his mission to ensure that Gauteng learners and teachers are equipped with tools that will allow them to succeed in a rapidly digitizing, tech-driven world.
Having realised that local schools and classrooms lacked the facilities and access to digital content and tools that would propel them into a competitive marketplace, Lesufi sought an education technology provider with an innovative and accessible solution. After researching and considering a number of technology partners, he chose VastraTech, the South African distributor of SMART Technologies.
In partnership with VastraTech and SMART, Lesufi launched Wired for Life, a programme that aims to provide every learner with a tablet, every teacher with a laptop, and every classroom with a SMART Board.
Early Signs of Success
The pioneering Wired for Life project is now entering the fourth phase, and the rate of adoption and engagement is exceeding expectations.
Teachers are reporting that learner engagement has increased and that SMART boards are creating a community of learning amongst students. Learners are able to work on their own as well as in groups and the introduction of technology is providing exciting future opportunities such as coding in schools.
Notably, the strategic initiative has required a significant level of commitment to drive it forward in order to transform the education system. This commitment includes teacher training, with VastraTech undertaking to train SA teachers around the use of interactive whiteboards and other cutting edge technology tools.
The strategic decision to invest in purpose-built tech for education will put South Africa on par with countries such as the US and UK.
Turning Ambition into Opportunity
Although the technology is at the core of Wired for Life, Lesufi emphasizes that success is ultimately about the students and teachers, and giving them the tools to shape their own futures.
For young learners, SMART is a way of bridging the digital divide, and learning to both compete and succeed in a global environment fueled by innovation, disruption and constant learning.