10 April 2014

South Africa: Wireless Network Opens Doors for N Cape Learners

Kuruman — Education for learners in about 50 schools in the JT Gaetsewe District Municipality in the Northern Cape is set to become more interesting, thanks to the introduction of wireless network in the area.

Science and Technology Deputy Minister Michael Masutha today launched wireless network, which will give thousands of learners access to the internet.

The Wireless Mesh Network (WMN) project is an initiative of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), aimed at demonstrating alternative models to establishing information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure in rural areas.

The project is funded by the European Union and implemented by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research's Meraka Institute. Speaking at the launch held at Learamele Special School, Deputy Minister Masutha said having access to ICT will help rural communities to access information.

"These days it is common knowledge that ICT has a positive impact on people's lives," he said.

Deputy Minister Masutha said a number of ICT projects were being implemented to improve education.

"As a department, in partnership with other stakeholders, we have developed a 10-year roadmap," he said.

A Grade 9 learner from nearby Iketletso Middle School, Thato Kgosierileng, expressed his excitement at having access to the internet.

"Now am able to search for information on the computer without having to go to the library," he said.

Thato, who started using a computer for the first time at school, said the few hours he had spent on a computer were very informative.

"With a computer, one can do a lot of things within a short space of time," he said.

A teacher at Learamele, Boitshoko Bannane, said the use of computers will expand learning possibilities.

"This will help ... learners conduct research. I have also noticed that the learners have developed a great deal of interest in learning using computers," he said.

Education District Director Vuyisile Teise said the introduction of computers would improve the learning process.

"The learners will now be able to download information from computers. Everything is now on their fingertips," he said.

The DST launched the initial phase of this initiative in Sekhukhune in Limpopo and Ekangala in Mpumalanga in 2010, connecting 212 public facilities including schools, circuit offices and colleges.

The project is supportive of the Schools Connectivity project, which aims to connect approximately 27 000 public schools in the country.

This connectivity project is led through the e-Connectivity Forum, headed by the Deputy Ministers of Communications and Basic Education, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams and Enver Surty respectively.

- SAnews.gov.za

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