Tuesday, February 3

IT is important

The Gauteng online project plans to install 25 computers in every school in the province. At a cost of around R400,000 per school, and with 2500 schools in Gauteng, the bill for this initiative will be more then 2.5 Billion Rand (Around 360 million US$).

Providing for installation of the hardware, software, education of the teachers, insurance of the computers and upkeep of the facilities this is a mammoth task. This is arguable the single largest investment in our education system ever, and if early reports are to be believed everyone is very impressed with the new classrooms and software.

Through the grapevine I've learnt of some of the difficulties associated with this project, and those are also just as impressive.

If a school has no suitable classroom, a classroom was to be built. If a school had no electricity, electricity was to be supplied. For insurance purposes, classroom had to burglar proofed and alarmed. Not only the windows, but the ceilings as well. Most Security companies don't provide armed response services to neighborhoods where these schools are found, so contracts were awarded on an all or nothing approach. You cover the schools in Alexandra, or you don't cover the schools anywhere else.

This did not deter our ever impressive crime syndicates however, and a pattern emerged of computers disappearing the day after they were installed. In one case installation of the computer was delayed a day, and when the team arrived the next morning they found that a hole had been knocked through one of the walls already. Luckily "inside jobs" is a well understood phenomenon in these parts.

The installation teams themselves were a problem as they refused to travel to some areas. Armed guards has to be organized to accompany them, but these would not be allowed to enter school ground however as by law, schools are gun free zones.

It seems that things have progresses successfully however, despite all these problems. A testament to the success of PPPs (Public Private Partnerships for those of you not used to SA govspeak. You cant very well call it capitalism if your a Marxist revolutionary party can you? What would the neighbours say!) and the ANC governments implementation policies.

If this investment will pay off will only be known in a few years time however as students who benefit from this project start to enter tertiary education and the job market. I'm certainly hopeful.

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