How government plans to stop school laptop thieves

The Gauteng Education Department is preparing to reboot its R17 billion digital classrooms project, having ‘beefed up’ security measures.

It follows a number of thefts which left the smart schools paperless education project in tatters, with tablets and laptops having to be recalled from township schools in Gauteng.

The first recipients of the tablets and laptops were seven schools in Tembisa, east of Johannesburg.

Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said that all matric classrooms will get interactive blackboards, while each matric learner in a no-fee-paying township school will receive a tablet.

Teachers and each subject adviser, meanwhile, would receive a laptop by July 21, following new security measures put in place.

Having launched in January, the project was halted in May following a number of thefts and school robberies, which saw more than 3,000 tablets stolen out of 88,000 distributed.

“This prompted the MEC to temporarily retrieve them for the installation of  additional security features,” the department said.

The education department said that of approximately 6,200 tablets that were originally fitted with tracking devices deployed to the seven schools, 11 tablets were stolen/lost and five were subsequently recovered.

Six tablets that have not yet been switched on since going missing, have not been recovered, it said.

“On the retrieval of tablets, there is remarkable progress. Schools that have tight security measures and utilisation plans did not have to return the tablets,” Lesufi said.

“Security is being beefed up in the schools, and prior to issuing the tablets for circulation, installation of tracking devices in all the tablets, is currently underway,” the MEC said.

Lesufi aims to have all high schools in the province paperless by 2019.

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How government plans to stop school laptop thieves