The failings of the South African Education Department to comprehensively support the integration of ICT in Education since it’s strategic outline for ICT and Education (DoE, 2004) have been counter-productive to the country’s growth objectives. Moreover, it has perpetuated inequality, helped to sustained poverty and encouraged a culture of nepotism and of tokenism. At its worst, such failure has fostered a criminal environment as the default option to young people facing high levels of unemployment in the country.
South African scholars have criticized the government for failing to support growth by maintaining “low quality education as a poverty trap” (van Der Berg et al, 2011). Despite the fact that much has been done since the dismantling of ‘Apartheid,’ progress in the education sector has struggled to keep pace with or learn from ICT implementation in commercial and industrial sectors. This has of course not been the case in South Africa’s private education sector, where ‘academies of learning’ continue to out perform their state counterparts, in some cases exponentially. The privileged few have been supported by fully engaged stakeholders, active school management committees and business partners who appreciate the long-term yields of capacity building and investing into future leaders. How is it that such vision and foresight is less forthcoming in the state sector? Can a decision about the future of education in South Africa truly be whittled down to a matter for funding models and balance sheets to decide? The consequences of a lack of ICT integration progress in state schools compound the existing social problems facing South Africa today.
The following facts are clear: poor education is a precondition to low employability; there is sufficient evidence supporting the link between low employment and the likelihood of crime; and finally, ICT has been transformative in those education systems where users are enabled and supported throughout the implementation process. The call is to South African leaders in education and to civil society from the grassroots upwards, to recall their childhood journeys through education and to re-double their efforts to ensure that today’s youth gain access to quality education using the technological resources that are increasingly free for all to access.
Department of Education (DoE). (2004) Draft white paper on e-Education. Transforming learning and teaching through Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) Government Gazette. No. 26734.