Government distances itself from e-learning controversy
The department of basic education has moved to squash suggestions that it issued a tender for digital learning during the lockdown.
According to a statement issued by spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga on Tuesday, the digital classroom initiative was championed by the NGO Africa Teen Geeks (ATG).
The statement said there was no financial contribution to the initiative by the government, nor had a tender been issued.
The department's involvement in the e-learning initiative, said Mhlanga, was "advocacy support" as the project by ATG was in line with the department's mandate during lockdown.
Any suggestions about wrongdoing or undermining of the teaching profession were dismissed.
"The initiative is the brainchild of Africa Teen Geeks, an organisation that does work in the basic education sector," said Mhlanga.
"The organisation approached the department of basic education seeking support. There is no financial implication to the department but only advocacy support as the project is fully aligned with the work of the department, especially during the Covid-19 lockdown. There was no tender involved.
"ATG on its website and through its social media handles advertised that it sought #Stem teachers to apply and become part of the #Lockdown e-school. ATG received more than 9,000 applications.
"A proper screening process was undertaken and 54 teachers were appointed to assist with the catch-up lessons, two of them student teachers."
Mhlanga said the recruitment process followed by the NGO, and the use of celebrities to promote the initiative, did not in any way intend to bring into question the teaching profession.
Mhlanga said: "The 56 teachers involved in the actual learner support programme are qualified or in the process of obtaining their teaching qualification.
"The use of ambassadors to promote reading has been in place since the Read to Lead campaign was launched in 2015."