Portable labs for rural schools
The Department of Education says it plans to have laptop computers available to all schoolchildren by 2014.
The department's acting deputy director-general for curricula, Edward Mosuwe, said the department wanted to improve the quality of education and expand the use of technology in all schools.
The department is considering introducing mobile computer labs, which can be used at schools that lack the infrastructure that would be required for a conventional installation.
"We are looking [at] different options for expanding information and communications technology in the classroom," Mosuwe said.
"We are discussing using a trolley [that would carry] rechargeable laptops. They would be available for use in harsh conditions where there was no access to an electricity supply."
Though the department was not dealing with a specific company from which to procure the laptops-on-a-trolley, the man behind the design is convicted internet hacker Alistair Peterson, who designed the trolley based on a model used by the German army on the battlefield.
He hacked into the computer systems of South Africa's biggest banks and stole R55-million. He pleaded guilty after being arrested in an elaborate sting operation by the now defunct anti-corruption unit, the Scorpions. He was released from jail just over a year ago.
He said that his job ends with designing the mobile computer labs.
Each trolley can carry from 16 to 48 laptops, depending on the requirement of the school.
Peterson said the trolleys could be used in any school at which there was no electricity or internet access.
Peterson estimated that providing the required number of mobile labs would cost about R26-billion.
"We first want to target schools that have no roof or walls, or any basic structure . the poorest of schools," he said.
At schools at which there was no 3G network coverage, internet connectivity would be secured by satellite.
When no trained computer science tutors were available, high-definition monitors would be used to show either live or recorded lectures.
Peterson said portable computer labs had been donated to three rural schools in the Free State, and another five will be given to schools in the same area next month.
- Peterson, from Reiger Park, on the East Rand, is in talks with Hollywood film-maker Phillip Noyce about making a movie about his career as an internet hacker.
He said he started hacking into government departments' accounts in December 2004 and, on his first attempt, stole R9.8-million.
After his release from prison, Peterson developed software that won an award for the Scorpions from the International Association of Prosecutors.