Time for Khanya Project to log off – Athlone News, 5 October 2011
The Khanya Project will soon be no more – after 10 years of existence and R1billion worth of computer laboratories have been installed at schools across the Western Cape.
On Wednesday September 28, a ‘transference event’ was held at Bridgeville Primary’s school hall.
The event has been described as a celebration of the successful roll-out of the Khanya Project and the handover to the new custodians of the Western Cape Education Department’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT) plan.
Brian Schreuder, the deputy director-general at the WCED’s curriculum and assessment management department, explained that the Khanya Project was started to speed up the delivery of ICT at schools, as the staff at the WCED already had too much to do.
“Ten years ago, we had certain requirements, and that stategy could not be delivered within the department, that is why the Khanya Project was started. Premier Helen Zille initiated the project to introduce ICT to schools. However, we could not just put computers at schools without preparation. Teachers had to be trained and schools had to ensure that they had the infrastructure ready. We not only installed computers in laboratories, but have also helped install over 2 000 interactive white boards in classrooms. The project has been recognised in this country and in the world for its great innovation when it came to ICT solutions. We’ve come from a leap of faith and tackled a mammoth task successfully. By the end of the financial year, Khanya would have delivered ICT solutions to all schools in the province,” Mr Schreuder said.
A total of 136 schools still need to have computer laboratories installed, and by April next year, it is expected that these would be completed.
Suiperintendent-General, Penny Vinjevold, said the “handover” event was a celebration, but also sad.
“Khanya provided all the children in the Western Cape a safe, quiet place, where learning something really special could take place – something they could not learn in the classroom,” she said.
Referring to the former head of Khanya, Kobus van Wyk, Ms Vinjevold added: “There have been many challenges in the Khanya Project, but Kobus would usually say that the only way to tackle these challenges, is to do what is best for the children. We will take this legacy of the Khanya Project forward when we do what is best for the children.”
Mr van Wyk also described the day as bitter-sweet. He said when the project started, it was born out of an extraordinary vision and principals were made their guinea pigs. He applauded the team of 80 people he worked with, describing them as “highly skilled”.
“We made our mistakes on you and we really thank you for that. We are also indebted to our service providers. We will take the lessons we learnt to the rest of South Africa. I was fortunate to have worked with the best team ever,” Mr van Wyk added.
When one of the principals at the event expressed concerns over the job losses at the end of the Khanya Project, Mr Schreuder explained to the Athlone News that the staff always knew that they were working on a contract-basis only.
“Some of the Khanya staff have been absorbed in WCED department posts, others have gone into the private sector. My job is to manage the process. It’s not like this whole thing was dumped on them. One cannot run a project forever, it had to come to an end. All new schools being built will have the infrastructure for computer labs.”
He said that the maintenance of the computer laboratories will be handled by a department within the Premier’s office.
Since its launch in April 2001, Khanya has been acknowledged as the ICT success story of the African continent. The project and its leaders have been honoured with numerous accolades and awards for innovation, service delivery and sustainability.