Up to 20,000 pupils from no-fee schools in the Free State are expected to receive “unhackable” tablets by the end of 2019 – thanks to the collective efforts of both the Free State’s department of education and companies in the private sector.
The main driver of the initiative, Closed-loop Learner Network (CLN), had already rolled out tablets to 1,000 pupils in the province late last year with the partnerships of private sector heavyweights like MTN, Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, Shuter & Shooter and WIZZR Technologies, and the support of the education department.
The success of this test was the drive they needed to aim to reach more pupils in disadvantaged schools across the province.
CLN co-founder Michelle Rocke’s shared vision with her business partner, Ajit Gopalakrishnan, to contribute towards digitising education came when they were working for a manufacturing company that exposed them to the distribution industry.
She said when they saw the disheartening news of the failed distribution on textbooks in various parts of the country, they wanted to help out by using their experience and the help of private enterprises. ]
She said “the idea was to produce a hackproof device”.
“We understand that we cannot alleviate crime or theft from happening and we have been hacked twice before, both through hardware and software, but we have worked hard on it in partnership with WIZZR Technologies and we have now produced a device that cannot be easily wiped out or hacked into.”
Gopalakrishnan added that prevention of hacking was a journey and that they now had specialists who were constantly evaluating the system to prevent it from happening again.
Rocke said they had also produced a device that would be useless and valueless for any criminal looking to steal the Omang device and resell it.
She explained that the tablet was strictly for educational purposes and, therefore, only had preloaded textbooks in accordance to the pupils’ needs and access to educational websites such as Wikipedia and Everything Maths by Siyavula.
Gopalakrishnan said if there were any reports of theft, the device would automatically be shut down and taken off their network.