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Pupils and teachers in the Nkonkobe district municipality, Eastern Cape, could not suppress their excitement when the MTN Foundation handed over fully furnished computer labs yesterday.
The pupils sang songs, recited poems and danced while celebrating the dawnof new era of teaching and learning.
The handover ceremony was held at Jabavu High School in Alice, with parents, local community leaders and government officials in attendance.
On the day 15 schools from the district benefited from the school-based development programme.
Each lab is furnished with 21 computers, DStv, Internet, two printers, a white board, a server, data projector and computer software.
The software program contains learning material to help pupils with mathematics, science, accounting, history and any other subject content.
All the labs are connected to each other using 3G, allowing subject advisers to teach to all the schools from one point. The connectivity will also improve communication between the schools and district.
Jabavu High School principal Mandisa Poswa said: "We are grateful for this intervention. We have been producing good learners but ones who are totally computer illiterate."
She said her school only had one computer that was used for administration and efforts to get computers from the provincial department of education had been fruitless.
"Our teachers have already been trained in how to use the equipment and this will improve our way of teaching and learning," Poswa said.
Nomonde Tshabalala, principal of Imvisiswano Primary School in Fort Beaufort, was also happy.
"It is the dawn of a new era for our learners who will now get to learn the computer at a very early age before going to high school," Tshabalala said.
Her school consists of temporary wooden structures. The the lab has been established in a classroom built with material left over after the completion of two classrooms donated by a construction company that built RDP houses in the area.
"I asked the company to build us two classrooms for free and they agreed. When they had finished there was excess material and that was used to build the computer lab," Tshabalala said.
Eastern Cape department of education director of telecommunicative learning Nune Mgoduka was also pleased with the programme.
"It adds value to our ICT strategic plans of rolling out computers to the 6000 school in the province," he said.
MTN Foundation head Eunice Maluleke said the schools were the entry point of development of the community.
"We use schools as a launching pad for any intervention in the community," Maluleke said. "For us as a country to achieve real economic growth we need to start by empowering schools."
Over the last five years the MTN Foundation has spent R350million on community development programmes that included arts and culture, entrepreneurship, health and life skills.
The Eastern Cape department of education has started training teachers on how to use computers to teach, set exams and do assessments.
The department has also provided the beneficiary schools with security for the new computer labs.
This initiative by the MTN Foundation has also been done in KwaZulu-Natal, Free State and Limpopo and will soon start in North West and Mpumalanga.
"After two years we will do an impact study to see if we have achieved our outcomes," Maluleke said.