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Education Technology

South African Schools To Go Textbook Free 76

An anonymous reader writes "South African education authorities are about to embark on an ambitious plan to take their schools textbook free, using the familiar refrain of one-tablet-per-child to do so. The education minister in Gauteng (the province which covers Johannesburg and Pretoria) has announced a plan to model new schools in the area on Sunward Park, a government school which went all-digital at the start of 2012. Other schools in the state will then follow, along with a plan to extend the project nationally."
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South African Schools To Go Textbook Free

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  • by CRCulver ( 715279 ) <> on Monday June 09, 2014 @04:57PM (#47198097) Homepage
    I am not surprised to hear such a move being made in Gauteng, one of the country's wealthiest states and fairly decently managed by South African standards. However, South Africa is a country of enormous contrasts, and other parts of the country have abysmal schooling -- before whizbang technological solutions, simply improving teacher qualifications and cutting down on absenteeism would be necessary.
  • by perpenso ( 1613749 ) on Monday June 09, 2014 @05:26PM (#47198273)

    South Africa, welcome to ridiculously marked up pdfs of textbooks, no way to "sell back" or "buy used," and licensing/broken device issues. Enjoy!

    What "sell back" or "buy used"? K-12 schools seem to buy books and use them year after year until they disintegrate, well at least that was my experience.

    The K-12 book market is very different than the college book market.

  • by perpenso ( 1613749 ) on Monday June 09, 2014 @06:14PM (#47198521)

    Best calculus book ever was Calculus Made Easy []. It really makes the subject as clear as possible. Everything since is filler.

    "Thus [integral symbol] dx means the sum of all the little bits of x; or [integral symbol] dt means the sum of all the little bits of t. Ordinary mathematicians call this symbol “the integral of.” Now any fool can see that if x is considered as made up of a lot of little bits, each of which is called dx, if you add them all up together you get the sum of all the dx’s, (which is the same thing as the whole of x). The word “integral” simply means “the whole.”"

    I may have to revise my earlier statement that a good freshman calculus text can last decades. This book may demonstrate that one can last over a century (1910 publication date).


  • by turkeyfish ( 950384 ) on Monday June 09, 2014 @10:01PM (#47199763)

    Actually in South Africa it is far worse than that. The government can't even get the textbooks it has already purchased to students. Tens of thousands of textbooks were lost in warehouses, were rain and wind destroyed many before they were even delivered and as it turns out audits showed that huge discrepancies in what was paid for and what was delivered.

    For South Africa going "all digital" is more likely another opportunity for an increasingly corrupt ruling party to steal even more money from the existing system, which is bordering on collapse. Teachers aren't being paid, many school buildings don't have windows or desks, or even walls. To be sure that this is some kind of bad joke, its no secret that the country's electrical supply system is so spotty that it can't keep the lights on in most major cities, without constant power failures even for the homes of the wealthy, much less schools without electricity. Coupled with mounting evidence that computers can actually retard learning and you have the makings of another incredible mess, not to mention much missed opportunity for South African students.

Truth is free, but information costs.