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A R17-billion project to introduce tablets to government schools in Gauteng will ultimately boost the country’s economy, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Wednesday.
“One of the factors constraining economic growth in South Africa is the relative shortage of e-skills,” he said at the “big switch on” at Boitumelong secondary School in Tembisa, Johannesburg.
The country had adopted a national e-skills plan, with education as a key part of the plan, he said.
The Smart Schools project was being launched at seven Gauteng township schools.
The Gauteng education department hoped to roll the project out to all Gauteng township and rural schools by the end of the 2017/2018 financial year at an estimated cost of R17 billion.
All high school children would be provided with a tablet computer and Grade seven pupils in primary schools would be trained to use the devices.
“We want you to enter the future knowing that you are the e-learners of the future,” Ramaphosa told pupils present at the launch.
“Education provides you the opportunity to overcome any obstacles that stand in your way.”
Ramaphosa also quoted late former president Nelson Mandela: “It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that a son of a mineworker can become the head of the mine, that a child of farm workers can become the president of a great nation,” he said.
He urged pupils to embrace the opportunity given to them.
“Ultimately, it is you, the learners, who need to be responsible for your future by taking seriously the opportunities that now exist.”
He congratulated the school’s pupils for achieving an 80.26 percent pass rate in 2014.
Having e-skills would make it easier for pupils to bridge the divide between school and the working world, Ramaphosa said.
“Technology, the internet, a multi-skilled workforce, innovation and collaboration are critical to the success of the knowledge economy.”
He also thanked the private sector for their contributions to the project.
Earlier, Gauteng premier David Makhura said the launch of smart schools was “a revolution in education” and “a game changing shift”.
“Education is the best gift you can ever give to the youth of a country.
“Once given education, you can never take it back,” he said.
Cyril Ramaphosa: The Audio Biography
Listen to the story of Cyril Ramaphosa's rise to presidential power, narrated by our very own Alec Hogg.