Poor township schools will miss out on Cyril’s tech revolution

Ideas

Poor township schools will miss out on Cyril’s tech revolution

There are echoes of the disastrous OBE rollout where under-resourced schools were at a huge disadvantage

Columnist

As I looked for plug points to connect my laptop for a PowerPoint presentation earlier this week, some of the teachers pointed to the ceiling – the school had just experienced another robbery in which equipment was stolen.

In this volatile township, where children come to school traumatised by broken homes and abject poverty, a school is not simply a place of learning, it is a vital resource to be razed, if possible. The intention was always good – this laboratory with basic computers and a smart projector hanging perilously from the roof indicates the provincial government plans for this school to have the kind of technologies found in schools of the leafy suburbs. But intentions and outcomes work differently in the hard realities of SA education.

We now have more than 100 years of insights from research into how school reforms work. The first lesson is that what is pronounced as reform or innovation for all schools turns out to benefit only some of them. The second lesson is that while a new reform might purport to be to the benefit of the poorer school, the more advantaged school gains even more. A new policy reform travels differently through a well-resourced school than through an impoverished school. The reason is that the privileged school has the capacity to process any intervention from the outside to its benefit, while the poorer school cannot...

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