Poor schools get iPads too
Private schools, in an alliance with business and iSchoolAfrica, an arm of the distributors in South Africa of Apple computers, are taking tablet computing and applications to underprivileged pupils to improve the matric pass rate.
iSchoolAfrica provides Macbooks, iPods and iPads to more than 50 schools in South Africa. Project director Michelle Lissoos said one of the projects she is most excited about provides Macbooks to rural schools in Limpopo and North West.
The project is in partnership with the Department of Rural Development, and the numeracy and literacy applications on the Apple devices are in line with the school curriculum.
Peermont group, owner of Emperors Palace casino, has provided 20 primary schools with 33 iPads each, and seven high schools with four iPad2s each, as part of a R40-million, five-year Ekhuruleni education programme.
The objective is for 60% of the students at the seven high schools' students to obtain matric pass rates of more than 60% by 2015.
High schools are also provided with mobile Macbook computer labs.
The coordinator of the Peermont School Support Programme, Chris Elk, works with schools in drawing up timetables and planning how best to use the tablets and Macbooks so that each class gets the maximum use.
Schools were assessed on "motivated leadership and likelihood to succeed".
Private schools that have been using tablet computing are also on board.
Dainfern College in northern Johannesburg, and Sacred Heart College in Observatory, eastern Johannesburg, have joined Peermont to share expertise with Ekurhuleni teachers.
Head of Sacred Heart College Colin Northmore said Grade 7s develop applications for educational use and so are "not merely consumers of content but also creators".
Last year they developed a phonics programme because the available application did not use South African accents.
Elk explained that insurance is one of the huge costs of the programme.
"I would like to use the money we spend on insurance to buy more equipment but it is essential to have insurance."
Lissoos said there were almost no reports of robbery at the 13 rural schools given mobile computer labs.
iSchoolAfrica said training and support were provided to ensure the technology was used effectively.