By Ashor Sarupen MPL, DA Gauteng Spokesperson on ITC:
The announcement Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi that tablets provided to schools to pilot e-learning initiatives would be recalled due to rampant theft indicates that the department was ill-prepared for the roll-out.
The ANC in Gauteng has trumpeted the roll-out of tablets to schools on its own as a major success, but the fact that over 3000 have already been stolen, and of 88 000, only 60 000 are still in the field, points to the fact that the education department was not ready to implement e-learning or manage these tablets effectively.
It has now been revealed that the tablets were distributed without any tracking technology, necessitating the recall so they could be fitted with trackers after a spate of burglaries in schools that appear to have targeted these tablets.
Schools were each provided with 40 tablets, meaning that at least 75 schools would have had to have been burgled for 3000 to be stolen. The cost of repairs to these schools after a burglary alone would be massive, let alone the costs of replacing the tablets.
The fact that tablets were rolled out without tracking devices to deter theft demonstrates that this was not properly planned or thought through.
In the entire process from procurement to roll out to monitoring, the ANC government has shown scant regard for effective management of public resources.
The Auditor-General found that the procurement process for purchasing these tablets was deficient, with points awarded to the winning bidder outside of advertised tender specifications.
In many schools, the teachers were not adequately trained to use them as a teaching aid.
Mostly, they became a target of theft.
Gauteng Online was aimed at proving computing labs to every school in Gauteng. These labs proved to be unworkable and marred by widespread theft and inadequate training.
This ultimately led to its failure.
No lessons appear to have been learnt despite over R2-billion in public funds spent with reckless abandon. One would expect the ANC government to be better prepared for future projects.
It appears no lessons have been learnt. The DA will table questions to enquire what the direct impact of the withdrawal of these tablets will have on learners, as well as demand why the implementation was deficient and did not anticipate and mitigate the risk of rampant theft.