As part of efforts to create a digitally empowered society, the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) has commenced with the rollout out of cyber labs at schools across the country.
“We want to see a multitude of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) enabled learners, harnessing ICTs for the development of interventions and other solutions that contribute to a better way of life,” Communications and Digital Technologies Minister Mondli Gungubele said on Thursday.
Addressing the launch of the SITA cyber lab at Ntafufu Senior Secondary School in the Eastern Cape, the Minister said SITA will also handover five cyber labs at high schools in the North West, Northern Cape, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.
“As learners you must use this cyberlab well. Work really hard and excel. Information technology (IT) gives students confidence, it gives them self-belief, it gives them something to grow into.
“This cyber lab gives students tools to learn new ways of learning, show skills and to be able to compete with other countries, because other countries are way ahead of us. As we hand over the cyber lab, we are giving you keys to the future. The future is cyber,” Gungubele said.
Government’s South Africa Connect national broadband policy of 2013 envisions achieving universal internet access by 2030.
“Our goal is to provide a meaningful future for our youth that goes beyond employability, as simply getting children through matric is not enough. Learners who are comfortable using everyday technology and devices to access content and to self-learn are far better positioned to build a life outside of school.
“Embedding ICT into our schools and curriculums is critical for any form of economic participation post-secondary school. Young people who do not have digital skills and who cannot access the internet will not be equipped to participate in the digital economy. This is but one dimension to the South Africa Connect policy objectives,” the Minister said.
He said the smart use of the internet improves the quality of education in many ways.
“It opens doors to a wealth of information, knowledge and educational resources, increasing opportunities for different approaches to learning in, and beyond, the classroom.
“It is also important to consider teachers’ – especially teachers in rural schools – adoption of information and communication technologies (ICTs) for teaching and learning in schools.
“Research using the Technology Readiness Index (TRI), found that the vast majority of the teachers surveyed were optimistic about the use of ICTs for teaching and learning, despite the existing financial, technical and digital skills challenges at their schools,” the Minister said.
In his 2023/24 budget speech, Gungubele announced interventions to ensure increased access through SA Connect to the value of R1.3 billion.
“To complement the SA Connect programme, I added that SITA will launch a National Broadband Project to the value of around R6 billion. These are all aimed at making the lives of our people better,” the Minister said.