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 but project director Michelle Lissoos saids the project she is most excited about provides Macbooks to schools in rural Limpopo, Gauteng 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, and seven high schools with four iPad2s, as part of a R40-million, five-year Ekhurleni education programme.
The objective is for the seven high schools to obtain a matric pass rate of more than 60% by 2015.
High schools are also provided with mobile Macbook computer labs.
The coordinator of the Peermont School Support Programme, Clifford Elk, works with schools on drawing up timetables and planning how best to use the tablets and Macbooks so that each class gets the maximum usage.
Schools were assessed on "motivated leadership and likelihood to succeed".
Private schools that have been using tablet computing are also on board.
Dainfern College, northern Johannesburg, and Sacred Heart College, in Observatory, eastern Johannesburg, have joined Peermont to share expertise with Ekhurleni teachers.
The headmaster of Sacred Heart, Colin Northore, said a training day will be held on Saturday for teachers.
Northore said Grade 7s at Sacred Heart developed applications 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 no reports of robbery at the 13 rural schools given mobile computer labs.
iSchoolAfrica said training and support were provided to ensure that the technology was used effectively.