Parents up in arms over school tablets glitch

FILE PICTURE: Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi. Picture: Tracy Lee Stark

Parents are up in arms over the Gauteng education department’s decision to recall tablets from schools, claiming they were not consulted.

The National Association of Parents in School Governance’s (Napsg) general secretary Marks Ramasike said members of the association heard via the media Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi would be recalling the tablets.

“First of all the tablets were signed in by the school governing bodies, they are the property of the schools, not the department. If the department decides to take such a decision, he must consult the Napsg first.”

Last week, Panyaza said he was recalling the 88 000 tablets distributed to schools in 2013 because the department needed to fit the devices with security features to avoid theft.

Once the tablets are withdrawn, pupils have to revert to using textbooks.

The Napsg accused Lesufi of operating schools with politics.

“We are not politicians, we do not take orders, we want to be consulted so that we can make an informed decision.

We feel very disrespected by the MEC’s decision to engage principals and not us.”

The association also said it suspected Lesufi would not return the tablets to schools, but due to his alleged lack of budget for the paperless project, “he will take the tablets to some of the other 10 schools he had elected to go paperless.”

Ramasike also said the paperless class project in Boitumelong Secondary School in Tembisa received tablets recalled from other schools.

“That is exactly what he has done with Boitumelong, the tablets that were distributed in January were not brand new, he did not have enough budget so he took some of the tablets from another school to execute his project.”

Department spokesperson Phumla Sekhonyana said the department did not have to consult the association for permission to retrieve the tablets.

“The decision to temporarily retrieve the 88 000 tablets from schools to be installed with additional security features is an operational matter.

It is important to understand that this is a proactive measure to strengthen security in schools so that they are in line with the security in ICT Schools,” Sekhonyana said.

The department could not say how much the exercise was going to cost.

The department is expected to address the Napsg about the matter today.

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