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EDUCATION PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
5 April 2005
EDUCATIONAL SOFTWARE: DEMONSTRATION
Chairperson: Mr S Mayatula (ANC)
Africa Internet Education Centre
Mr Farouk Cassim , a former Member of Parliament who had developed a free educational website funded by advertising, demonstrated the software by giving Members an online lesson in trigonometry. Members were enthusiastic about the software and interested in promoting its use in schools.
The Chairperson reminded Members about the education budget debate on 17 May.
Mr Cassim ’s presentation
Mr Cassim explained that applets loaded and executed programmes quickly. They could open possibilities in education, such as ‘e-universities’ and school internet cafes. Bandwidth could be supplied by companies. For instance, Pick ‘n Pay was one firm that allowed schools to use its bandwidth after hours. Computers could also be supplied by companies. The Shuttleworth Foundation had refurbished computers donated by companies who were upgrading sytems, and offered them to schools.
Satellites made every place on earth ‘internet-accessible’. Mathematics and science education were important tools for transformation. Problems in delivering quality science and mathematics education could be overcome within a year if better IT was used.
Mr Cassim had signed an agreement with a Japanese company, International Education Software, and had bought some software from them. He then demonstrated the software by giving the Members a trigonometry lesson.
The Chairperson urged Members to familiarise themselves with the programme at their own computers. It was not necessary to understand the mathematics in order to tell teachers about it, but they should know their way around the site in order to inform schools of its possibilities. He suggested that Mr Cassim give a follow-up demonstration in the computer room.
Members asked questions about whether the software could be accessible at home via television, and about costs. The technology to do so would shortly be availableoin South African market. The website was in the public domain and there were no subscription costs because these would be covered by advertising.
Mr Cassim tried to demonstrate an English lesson but there was a technical problem and the Flash component was not working. He said that the Committee, if it wanted to know the state of learner performance, could test every learner in the country simultaneously and have the results the next day.
Mr D Montsitsi (ANC) asked whether the lessons were compatible with the Revised National Curriculum Statements. Mr Cassim answered that the new Further Education and Training curriculum to be implemented in 2006, would be an opportunity to develop resources. IT was the cheapest and best way to deliver the curriculum.
Mr Montsitsi asked whether Mr Cassim was prepared to visit schools. Mr Cassim said he was, provided his travel costs were covered. Mr Montsitsi asked for promotional material and Mr Cassim agreed to give this to the Committee Secretary.
The Chairperson pointed out that a whole class could use the software with the aid of a data projector and it was also a development tool for teachers.
The meeting was adjourned.
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