Tuesday, June 2, 2020

E-learning is the new way with 700 schools on the net

By Arnold Letsholo

Moses Moreri, an official in the Ministry of Transport and Communication has said his ministry is ready for educational transformation.

The evidence lies with internet connection of more than 300 laboratories country-wide. More than 700 primary schools he said have also been connected country-wide.

Moreri nonetheless explained that to reduce internet costs for learners; or freely provide it would not be easy as it is imported.

“However, with all schools connected and the demand being high chances are there could be special provision for learners. It has been hard to convince suppliers to provide government with subsidies because of small population. But even when all public schools are connected, the free services would not be extended to learners’ homes,” explained Moreri.

From the Department of Curriculum, Prince Marokane confirmed readiness for e-learning transformation. He said they have had several panel discussions with teachers and they are heading somewhere.

Melissa Tafila of Orange Botswana said they have, through digital schools, sponsored by their charity arm shown their readiness to support e-learning in the country.  Digital schools, she said, were launched in 2018 where learners got tablets with which to learn.

Panelists unanimously emphasized that going digital cannot and should not be a ‘one man show’. It is led by the Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Basic Education Ministry and there should be continuity should she be transferred.

Prior to the panel discussion ended the day’s consultative meeting to it, various ICT companies presented their contents to the audience comprising themselves, ministry officials and members of Publishers Association.

The consultative meetings form part of the implementation of government’s policy of digitalizing education called ‘maitlamo’ project.

A Gaborone teacher has said that schools are ready for transformation of education from traditional chalk and board to e-learning.

Tebogo Molebatsi was responding to a question; “Are we ready?” during a panel discussion at the Gaborone International Convention Center (GICC) last week.

She said that this is made all the more possible by the fact that technology is a continuation of children’s everyday life that technology is an integral part of modern life.

“Modern day learners want to play bigger roles. They want teachers to be just monitors or guiders while they do tasks themselves. Teachers are however still using traditional way of teaching just because it worked for them in the past.  I would say yes we are ready as Ministry has embarked on creating platform. Transformation is a journey which is going to take a while to manifest,” said Molebatsi.

On her experience since the journey of transformation was embarked upon, she emphasized that teachers need to be capacitated. She said e-learning should be compulsory for all teachers.

She advised the Botswana Examinations Council (BEC) that the current testing lacks skills for learners. Molebatsi cautioned by way of example that in Asia, in future, 137 million jobs will be automated. For each automated job four will be created.

A publisher, Christopher Koveya, highlighted that publishers are ready to produce material for learners in a similar manner they have been doing for the past ten years.

However he questioned where the energy ministry was as e-learning was being discussed as technology need energy.

Quizzed on whether e-learning would come at a cost he said: “E-learning is more personalized as learners have the choice of language to apply. It provides individual personal learning to the hearing impaired, the mute and the vision impaired. There is no need for duplicating material. Initially the cost of implementing e-learning will, of course be high.  Way forward is digital, let’s go.”

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