Keynote Address by the Honourable Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services, Dr. Siyabonga Cwele at the Official Handover of Digital Learning Tools at Seshigo High, Limpopo
08 April 2016
Thank you Programme Director, the School Principal of Seshigo High School,
The MEC for Economic Development in the Limpopo Province, Honourable Seaparo Sekoati
Kgosi Moloto and his delegation,
The Local Councillor, representing the Mayor of Polokwane
The CEO of Broadband Infraco, Ms Puleng Kwele;
Chairperson and Members of the School Governing Body;
Representatives of Chair’s and CEO’s of our State Owned Companies,
Educators of Seshigo High School;
Members of the Moletjie Community;
Last and most importantly, our Learners
It is my pleasure to join the community of Moletjie for today’s handover ceremony which is a culmination of the work that has been done by Broadband Infraco in collaboration with the Limpopo Department of Basic Education and other stakeholders over the past 3 years to empower Seshigo High School with modern digital equipment and reliable fast internet.
This initiative is in line with government’s bigger project to connect all government institutions to broadband which includes all our schools by the year 2030. Through our broadband project, we will deliver broadband access to 90% of the schools throughout the country by 2020 and 100% by the year 2030 in line with the National Development Plan.
This year His Excellency President Zuma reiterated during his State of the Nation Address that we are fast-tracking the implementation of Phase 1 in this bigger project called South Africa Connect, which is our Broadband Policy. This year government will continue to ensure that we connect all government institutions in the 8 districts announced at the 2015 SONA. The Vhembe District has been chosen for this Phase 1 in the Limpopo Province.
Our work to connect government institutions will not only be limited to the 8 Districts announced for Phase 1. We have developed a business case for the implementation of the massive Phase 2 which covers all the other districts in the country. This includes the Mopani, Sekhukhune and here in the Capricon District. The work that Broadband Infraco has done in connecting the Seshigo High School is a gain that will advance the success of this important government programme in the Capricon District.
I am sure everyone is wondering why we are spending money and dedicating effort towards ensuring that our schools are connected to the internet. Let me take this opportunity and assure the community of Moletjie that modern ICT technologies are a big part of our everyday lives and we can no longer afford to separate them from anything we do. These modern technologies have changed the world in millions of ways as it is through the innovations of ICTs that we are able to communicate better. The way we do business has changed for the better and learning and teaching has been made more effective through online platforms. The National Development Plan envisions that ICTs have the power to transform South Africa into an information society and a vibrant knowledge economy that is both prosperous and inclusive.
It is my honour that today I have officiated a formal handover of 60 tablets loaded with educational content to the Seshigo High school as a part of Broadband Infraco’s 3 year partnership with other State Owned Entities to assist Seshigo High School to become a connected smart school. These tablets are equipped with sim cards donated by Telkom that will offer 200MB of data for the coming 12 months. Over the past 3 years we have seen the Broadband Infraco provide the school with a Telematics long distance learning platform and data projectors to facilitate online interactive learning as far as the University of Stellenbosch. The school has also been equipped with two interactive white boards and CAPS aligned digital libraries which offer content that will assist learners to participate in their classes and improve the results of the school. Lastly, a partnership was coordinated with Transnet and a state of the art 35 seater computer laboratory has been built and furnished with computers, a printer, projector and screen to enable Telematics viewing by neighbouring schools. As government through Broadband Infraco and other stakeholders we have spent well over R900 000 to provide these resources.
I have been told by my team which visited the school in the last couple of days that the Telematics long distance learning platform has enabled our learners to interact with teachers from as far as Stellenbosch on their Maths and Science schoolwork. Our learners are also able to access the internet for research related to their studies. The internet has a vast repository of information that can be used by our learners to expand their knowledge and enable them to develop skills that are critical to lifelong learning.
This intervention is a part of our NDP’s vision 2030 which emphasizes a need to bridge the digital divide by ensuring that everyone in the country has affordable access to ICTs, particularly our people living in the rural areas. I am confident that a learner from Moletjie who attends school at Seshigo High School has access to the same educational content as a learner in a well-resourced school in the big cities such as Johannesburg. This programme is critical in the implementation of Education Phakisa to ensure that the late delivery of text books will no longer be a challenge as we have these resources that are delivered over the internet.
Broadband Infraco’s adoption of Seshigo High School demonstrates the benefits of using broadband for learning and development. I have had an opportunity to look closer at the Matric results of Seshigo High School. We are worried about the declining pass rate but I am sure that with the use of the resources we have donated here today, you can turn the situation around for the good.
These facilities that we have donated will have a positive impact beyond just providing the much needed academic support that our learners need to pass matric. Our learners can now use these resources to research about careers that are available at institutions of higher learning, apply for university entrance and even gain access to information on bursaries and financial aid. We have presented our learners with the opportunity to fulfil their dreams to become doctors, scientists, biologists and even pursue careers in ICTs which have been found to be a scarce skill in South Africa. I would like to encourage our learners to use the connectivity we have provided to research on the Ikamva National e-Skills Institute (INeSI) which can assist them to know more about the skills development opportunities available in the ICT sector. The INeSI even has a co-lab not far from here at the University of Limpopo and offers accredited courses.
The words of the father of our democracy, uTata Nelson Mandela will always remain true. “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”
I hope all of us can continue working together and contribute to building a better South Africa by investing in the education of our children through ICTs. As the School Governing Body it is critical that we protect these assets to ensure they are not vandalised or stolen by criminals.
We have done all this as the ANC government and the leader of society having analysed the global economic environment which presents us with conditions that are not favourable to our aspirations to deliver a better life for our people. Our people are facing challenges such as job insecurity, low revenue collections, escalating food prices and rising costs of education. The ANC government is putting measures to cushion the poor and implementing a nine point plan to ignite our economy to grow. The rollout of broadband is a part of the supporting pillars for this plan.
We are working with the Minister of Finance to find sustainable funding options for the faster rollout of broadband. We will continue to prioritise funding education, health and basic services to cushion the poor during these adverse conditions.
These year is also important as we will be allowing our citizens to renew the mandate of local government councillors of the 3rd of August. Voting is the only acceptable method of giving mandate to those we prefer to lead any sphere of government.
The future of our local government is in your hands. We urge all those who are 16 years and above to come out in numbers and go and register and make sure your addresses are correctly captured this coming weekend which is the last open registration weekend.
The year 2016 is also significant as we will be having important commemorations. These are important as our history has been previously distorted.
This year, we will be celebrating 100 years since the establishment of the University of Fort Hare which has natured many of our leaders such as Prof ZK Mathews, former President of the ANC Oliver Reginald Tambo, President Mandela and the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe His Excellency Robert Mugabe.
This year, we will be celebrating 95 years since the formation of the South African Communist Party vanguard for the working class and the poor.
This year, we will be celebrating 60 years since the woman’s march to the Union Buildings against unjust pass laws.
This year, we will be celebrating 55 years since the formation of Umkhonto we Sizwe, the people’s army against the apartheid regime.
This year, we will be celebrating 40 years since the Soweto Students Uprising. As the MEC has said, we have been commemorating the brutal killing of our young hero Solomon Mahlangu who was hanged by the apartheid regime when he returned to South Africa. Solomon Mahlangu was a part the June 16 student uprising. He was a part of those students who left in 1976 to go for military training under Umkhonto we Sizwe.
These are important event happening in our country that we should take an interest in as they speak to the history of our nation.
In closing, let me congratulate Seshigo High School for starting the road to becoming a digital school that is a part of the information society envisaged in our National Development Plan. These 60 tablets are just a drop in the ocean.
Our President His Excellency Jacob Zuma has said that by 2020 we must make sure that every school going child has their own tablet they can take home loaded with data so they can do their schoolwork outside of the school. This is the goal we are working towards.
I thank you.