At the end of July, foundation phase teachers from three Aberdeen schools took part in a two-day workshop of computer training at Kamdebo Primary School. The staff members had received personal laptops from the Department of Education a few months earlier, and whilst this was a source of great delight to most, some were extremely nervous and not convinced of the benefits of computers for their teaching!
Facilitator Henry Thomson, District Chief Education Specialist from the Graaff-Reinet office of the Department of Education, proved to be an extremely patient and caring facilitator, and was able to address the concerns of the complete novices as well as inspire them to conquer their fears and master the basic skills necessary for classroom use. Most of the younger teachers already had a good level of competency, and were able to help the novices as well as hone their own skills. Thomson was accompanied by an IT technician intern from the District Office.
The course aimed to provide basic Microsoft skills and instruction on using the internet to obtain information and photographs. At the end of the second day, the participants had to complete a test. Later in the year, two more courses will be held, once the teachers have had chance to become familiar with their laptops and the basic operations. Many are already excited at the thought of being able to learn how to complete tax returns online and do internet banking rather than stand in queues!
Thomson and his training team will be travelling extensively through the Graaff-Reinet education district, which reaches as far as from Cookhouse and Somerset East to Willowmore and Steytlerville. The training is being conducted throughout the whole Eastern Cape by facilitators in the different districts, all part of the department’s Laptop Initiative. All foundation phase teachers will have a laptop loaded with all the necessary Microsoft software, as well as 2GB of data per month.