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].