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South Africa: The Gauteng Provincial Government Launches an e-Learning Solution
Source: Issued by: Gauteng Finance
Source Date: Tuesday, August 20, 2013
Focus: Institution and HR Management
Country: South Africa
Created: Aug 20, 2013

These objectives would be achieved through the installation of a computer laboratory in every public school, and was part of a wider ICT initiative to transform Gauteng into a Smart Province. As a result, all public schools received a standard 25-workstation computer laboratory with Internet access. Suffice to say that these objectives were achieved during phase one of this elaborate project, and at a time when the cutting edge technological innovation was “thin-client technology”.
As a result, the Gauteng on Line (GoL) programme succeeded in improving computer literacy in public schools, and somehow demystified phobias associated with the World Wide Web.
With the advent of significant advances in technology, and the inclusion of curricula into the ICT environment, the physical computer laboratory was rendered obsolete. In addition, the globally preferred method of disseminating information and curriculum content was overtaken by computer tablets. These innovations have radically revolutionised our approaches to e-Learning, resulting in a review of our objectives to:
• Provide a fit-for-purpose ICT capability to support e-Learning and thinking in all learning areas for all learners and educators
• Provide all learners with access to quality education
• Afford learners an opportunity to use ICTs for their everyday learning activities (i.e. netbooks), and educators an opportunity to enhance and support their teaching through the use of ICT tools
• Provide learner access to curriculum content to support their teaching through the use of ICT’s
• Provide a platform for educators and learners to collaborate, provide feedback to each other, and share best practices
• Use e-Learning channels to equip learners with skills to cope at tertiary and FET levels and thus enhance their market portfolios.
• Provide a comprehensive set of curriculum resources, tools and Information across all school grades in multiple South African languages
• Create an enabling environment for educators and their peers to communicate across geographic boundaries
Rebranding and migration to e-learning
The future classroom will result in all learners using their own devices (e.g. tablets, smart phones, netbooks etc.) that would contain all their e-Books and grade specific curriculum content. Besides, through the use of specialised software packages, we will be able to personalise educator-learner encounters, and thus expedite constructive interactions to maximise learning experiences. Likewise, learners will easily access libraries, instead of spending a limited amount of time every week in a physical computer laboratory.
On the other hand, the notion of providing learners with an e-mail address and Internet connectivity was regarded as having limited options, and was due for a review. To this end, we opined that exposing our learners to e-Learning techniques ought to occur at a much tender age. We therefore elected an e-Learning solution that could mediate meaningfully, but on a sustainable manner, whilst being financially viable.
This comprehensive review of the GoL programme resulted in the much needed alignment of the e-Learning methodology to global norms and standards. To give effect thereto, we invited proposals from competent private sector partners to provide appropriate end user devices and connectivity. We then proceeded to source end user devices from Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM’s), and similarly approached valid ICASA license holders to bid for the connectivity. These efforts enabled us to select two service providers to collaborate in this project, and complied strictly with the Supply Chain Management Policy Framework and Treasury Regulations.

Structure of the e-learning solution
Whereas the current GoL was a turnkey solution provided by a single service provider, the e-Learning solution will be structured as follows:
• Huawei Technologies will provide all the tablets
• Each public school will receive 44 ten inch devices
• A total of 88 000 tablets will be procured
• All 2 200 provincial public schools will benefit
• These tablets will remain the property of the Gauteng Provincial Government
• Cloudseed will provide the core network which will comprise of WiFi and 3G connectivity to all 2 200 Provincial public schools
• They have been awarded a two year contract
• Thereafter, this service will be insourced and provided by the Gauteng Broadband Network.
Rollout plans
• The current month on month lease with Cloudseed shall terminate at the end of October 2013
• All 1 552 public schools that are currently connected to the GoL network will be terminated on 30 October 2013. Therefore, for the months of November and December 2013, there will be no connectivity, as learners will be writing their final examinations, and shall then proceed to their December vacation
• The rebranded e-Learning solution will be implemented and made available from Jan 2014. We anticipate that this project will be completed around March 2014
• This approach seeks to limit disruptions to the school calendar to the minimum, as all training, change management, and reconstruction will occur during the school holidays
• In the interim, Cloudseed shall maintain the network, and ensure that all 2 200 schools are up and running when schools reopen in January 2014
• The tablets will only be delivered to the schools when schools reopen in Jan 2014.
• Short-term insurance will be procured for the tablets to mitigate against unforeseeable losses and damages, while on-going maintenance and support will be provided by the supplier
Contractual arrangements
These contracts will be regulated through performance based agreements. All payments will only flow on receipt of satisfactory service delivery, which must comply with the service level standards. The e-Learning solution will:
• Commence effectively from the January 2014 school calendar
• Tablets will be procured and paid for in full, and will remain the property of the Provincial Government
• The tablet provider will outsource the training, change management, distribution, maintenance and support functions to emerging entrepreneurs
• Their services will include first, second and third tier maintenance and on-site support over two years
• Uncapped network connectivity will be leased over 24-months at a fraction of the current operating lease premiums
• A 95% network uptime standard will be embedded in the service level agreement of the network supplier
• This service includes two year first and second line maintenance and support
• The service provider will also identify an emerging youth owned ICT company, and shall transfer network development, maintenance and support skills to them over the 2-year period. This empowerment effort will eliminate the current sole service provider status, and thus improve supply side measures in this monopolistic industry sector
• We anticipate that our Broadband network will be fully operational within 18-months, in order to transfer e-Learning to our own network
• Contracts and service level agreements which protect the interest of Government are already in draft form, and are consistent with the terms of reference and the Government’s General Conditions of Contract
Cost comparison and benefit analysis
• Total project costs - R2,2 bn
• Coverage - 1 552 public schools
• Coverage per school - 25 workstations
• Asset structure - Operating lease
• Business model - Turnkey solution
• Software application - Open source standard
e-Learning solution
• Tablets - R289 m
• Network lease costs - R107,2 m
• Total capital costs over 2 years - R396,2 m
• Coverage (Uncapped) - 2 200 public schools
• Coverage per school - 40 workstations
• Asset structure - Tablets owned by the GPG
• 24-month network lease
• To be transferred to the Gauteng Broadband Network in January 2016
• Business model - two service providers involved
• Software application - Android (open source standard)
• Broadbased empowerment involved and targeted skills transfers
• Latest e-Learning architecture employed
For further information contact:
Sithembiso Ndlovu
Acting Director: Strategy and Media Liaison
Cell: 072 183 8922
Tel: 011 689 6950
Email: sithembiso.ndlovu@gauteng.gov.za
John Mgwenya
Head of Communications
Tel: 011 689 4771
Email: john.mgwenya@gauteng.gov.za
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