Computer tablets replace textbooks for EC pupils

SCIENCE and Technology Minister Derek Hanekom said an ambitious national project to replace textbooks with e-texts, being piloted in Cofimvaba, Transkei, was at an advanced stage with 3 000 electronic tablets in action.

STRONG SIGNAL: Buffalo City mayor Zukiswa Ncitha, the World Bank’s vice-president of financial and private sector development Janamitra Devan, Science and Technology Minister Derek Hanekom and Eastern Cape Premier Noxolo Kiviet seated at the opening of the bank’s fifth Global Forum on Innovation and Technology Entrepreneurship at the East London International Convention Centre yesterday

In an exclusive interview with the Daily Dispatch between his main address and a breakaway meeting at the World Bank’s fifth Global Forum on Innovation & Technology Entrepreneurship in the East London, he said: “We are pretty far [with the project]. We have dished out 3 000 tablets to 12 schools in Cofimvaba.

“There are a lot of challenges, such as lack of electricity. But we are busy with the national and provincial education departments, bringing teachers and parents together to create a state of readiness,” he said. “Our goal is to use tablets or other electronic devices as the main instrument of learning, and to replace textbooks [with them] countrywide.”

Earlier in his main address, Hanekom told hundreds of innovators, entrepreneurs, academics, state officials and investors that Africa was recognised around the world for its rapid uptake of innovative mobile phone technology.

A South African’s app, Price Check, beat 100 000 apps to win the coveted Blackberry App of the Year award last year. Shoppers use the app to compare retail prices.

With 50 million cellphones in SA and six billion in the world, apps like these represented an important breakthrough.

Hanekom said Cabinet had approved a technology strategy that supported research and development, more collaboration with InfoDev, the World Bank’s innovation and entrepreneurship hub, and 11 mobile start-ups.

Echoing the University of Fort Hare City-Campus 2030 vision document presented to Buffalo City Metro last month, Hanekom said the “triple helix” partnership of universities, industry and government was recognised internationally as a major site for technological innovation.

The e-textbook project was only one of a number of ICT-driven initiatives being piloted in Eastern Cape rural areas aimed at improving the provision of water, health, nutrition and energy [to charge tablets and devices].



  1. Please print a follow up article a month after these computer tablets are handed outa nd let us know how many have been lost, stolen or broken.

  2. And then they’ll tell us that it’s a good idea to replace Home ed and cadettes with The Sims and Command and Conquer.

  3. oh my God what a stupid idea these things need to be serviced and who is going to do that, in two years time im sure 90% of them will disappear and then what, electronics are not reliable but proper books are reliable and cheap, what if 1 of the students drop these tablets by mistake who is gonna pay for it, instead of buying these fancy things buy proper pc’s with internet (especially hp, Acer, dell they have an extra warranty for 3 years to 5years) for hardware and Microsoft is giving schools free software which is windows 7pro, Encarta and office 2010pro) not tablets, for goodness sake this is madness people, stop doing these fancy things and concentrate on giving pupils proper books.

  4. stupid unrealistic idea, they couldnt even get old computers in now they r misusing our taxes with tablets,which will get students mugged schools broken into……ppl in the government r stupid ppl even a grade 1 learner cud tell u this.

    mxm sa gov makes me sick

  5. What a waste of time and our tax money.Blerry monkeys can’t fulfil their task of delivering books.Use books you morons.

    • Things are happening in Cofimvaba. The project is perfectlyworking.The learners are very responsible.How can you say something is not going to work,whereas people who are involved in the project are seeing a tremendous improvement

  6. I think tablets in the near or far future will be good for education. This is a good start by all involved. Those who think building hall-ways for desktop computers to be used for learning and teaching are living in the present. Everything has challenges, tables will present handling issues by users but that does not mean they won’t work in education.

    Maybe lets all throw away our mobile phones and turn to land lines and walkie talkies because we are breaking them or are not suitable for offering better communication. Innovation is never bad guys, but the questions is, ‘some months down the line, will the idea or tablets still be there?’.

    That is a question of management and implementation not tablets’ suitable for learning and teaching.

    So, I do not agree with Lungi but have huge reservations with the implementation of the whole thing. Good Luck!

  7. This implementation will definitely not work at all. With all due respect, not much much thought has been put into this project. First of all the fact that it was implemented deep in the rural areas of the Eastern Cape where I’m quit sure that 90%+ of the students are “computer illiterate” not forgetting that some of the students have not even used or even seen a basic computer before, and their first encounter with the digital world is through a tablet.

    Secondly, electricity is not really much of an issue in this case of replacing standard computer laboratories with tablets. What happened to solar energy??? The implementation of solar powered computer labs would have worked far much better than these tablets. With these tablets, the kids will experience issues such as a disruption with their WiFi connections and the such, and who will be there to assist them. If you remember, tracing back the issue of the failure of the delivery of textbooks, that got me thinking how on earth will they successfully and effectively and appropriately deliver tablets. OMG

    I wont even bother going into the issue of how much of these tablets have already been sold thus far. They break, become faulty, get lost etc…and then what happens?

    Guys come on please, whoever came up with this project are the ones who are supposed to be the intelligent ones, possessing effective decision making skills. Not much research has been done thoroughly in order to determine the effectiveness of the implementation of this project.

    I am currently writing a research paper within the context of integrating ICT and education focusing on rural areas and tablets hadn’t even come into thoughts, and having seeing this and thought about it, it still wont work finish and klaaaaar!!!!

  8. Is this for real? It must be April the 1st .When the ANC mention the word `challenge` that indicates they have realised that they have not done thier homework and they are preparing us for yet another disaster. The clever boys that thought this up need tablets of a different kind.

  9. Haaa!!!I work for the school that has been given tablets. Tablets have really enhanced out teaching and learning. I never knew that our learners can be so good with tablets but people, they are just fantastic! They do experiments, retrieve previous question papers and memos. We don’t even show them how to do these things but they are leading us.
    I noticed that since they don’t have pouches yet, they have covered their tablets with plastic so as to protect the screen from scratching. Not even a single learner has lost a tablet since they were given last year.
    I’m currently doing my Research Dissertation on the tablet management in rural schools. Acceptable use policy and other staff. The project could not have been taken to any better District than Cofimvaba, for we are no1 in the Eastern Cape Province in terms of academic results. Lets work hard as educators and criticise later. Oh! On Friday we are graduating ,for we have been undergone a training and now have completed the programme and ready to train other teachers. We give glory to God!

  10. I have invented a solar powered tablet PC and I am from the Eastern Cape. if I had been surrounded by many of the cynics commenting on this article, I would never have gotten anywhere! Well done to all those involved in the Cofimvaba project. The research motivating ICT4ED is overwhelmingly behind you!

  11. Wow!!These learners lives and our lives will never be the same again.The learners have developed a very strong sense of responsibility towasrds these tablets.They very eager to learn.The pace at which they are learning is so amazing!Our results are still going to improve.I have just found a certain information on the PDF files stored in these tabs.I will teach my subject perfectly with his information for English P3.We are winning here

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