Factors Influencing the Integration of Technology to Facilitate Transfer of Learning Processes in South African, Western Cape Province Schools

Article excerpt

This article discusses challenges South Africa is currently facing in its attempt to introduce computer use in its schools. There exist profound disparities for PC access between the provinces, due to weak social and economic developments and decreasing access to computers at home. This, in turn, may decrease the effect of computer use in schools. In addition, the impact of information and communication technologies (ICT's) on education is not automatic, and combining ICT's with effective pedagogy may be a daunting task, especially for schools in the disadvantaged areas in South Africa. Research cited in the literature review for this article emphasized the need for a sound analysis of current teacher training practices and more and better access to educational (online) experiences so as to encourage and motivate teachers to efficiently and effectively integrate ICT in their teaching as this will enrich the learning experience of students and prepare the latter better for participation in an ever more technology savvy environment.

INTRODUCTION

South Africa, a country with a politically tumultuous past, has a strategic and auspicious geography on the southernmost part of the African continent. Permanent European settlements within the region began with the arrival of van Riebeeck in 1652. The subsequent import of slaves from Angola and West Africa began in 1658 (Clark & Worger, 2004), and from this historical prescience, periodic bouts of slavery under Dutch and British rule extrapolated to profound racial segregation throughout the colonial period. In 1948, these racial inequalities eventually derived to a systematically expanded and mandated policy of racism labeled Apartheid (an Afrikaans word derived from Dutch, meaning "apartness" or separate) (Fiske & Ladd, 2004).

Under apartheid policy, which existed formally between 1 948 and 1994, all aspects of the social, political, and educational systems in South Africa were inequitably defined and operated to the benefit of white South Africans over the majority black South African population (Clark & Worger, 2004). Specifically, schools for whites were funded generously, while those for black students were systematically denied adequate facilities, textbooks, and quality teachers. Moreover, per pupil spending for whites during the height of Apartheid was ten times that of black African students (Fiske & Ladd, 2004).

In 1994, many aspects of the political, social, economic, and educational arenas in South Africa improved with the election of Nelson Mandela as president, and the establishment of a democratic government. Subsequent adoption of the Constitution in 1996 provided educational reforms through significant legislature and the establishment of the National Qualifications Framework. The structure of this Framework provided a conduit for establishing a single educational system, whereby many policy initiatives were adopted for improving access and funding of education in South Africa (K- 12 and tertiary levels) (Baxen, 2008).

In 2004, the government of South Africa delineated policy objectives for the utilization of ICT's in the educational sector. A "White Paper" was released articulating a governmental response to the "new" information and communication technology environment in education, and its potential application to existing school curricula for enhanced learning and teaching environments in South African schools (Western Cape Government White Paper on e-education, 2004). Governmental responses for long-term strategic policy initiatives include that every learner in the primary and secondary school sectors should be "ICT capable" by 2013. To achieve this end, schools are expected to develop into "e-schools" consisting of ICT capable teachers and learners (Isaacs, 2007).

E-schools are further defined as:

* Learners who utilize ICT's to enhance learning

* Qualified and competent leaders who use ICT's for planning, management, and administration

* Qualified and competent teachers who use ICT's to enhance teaching and learning

* Access to ICT resources that support curriculum delivery

* Connections to ICT infrastructure. …