Integration of ICT onto Curricula in the Western Cape Schools: The Activity Theory Perspective
Keywords:ICT, Integration, Deployment, ICT literacy, Disadvantaged Schools, Under-resourced communities
This paper presents the findings of an empirical study into the status of ICT integration into school curricula in the Western Cape. It also offers an activity theory based framework to analyse socio-technical phenomena including the application of information technology into educational contexts. Since the schooling system in South Africa (SA) is facing quality challenges, and that ICT is recognised as a key enabler of efficiencies, efforts to integrate ICT into schools are commendable. In this respect, the e-Education policy provides for all schools to be equipped with physical ICT resources. Intrigued by this ambition, the authors sought to understand the evidence of these undertaking among disadvantaged schools in SA. In this quest, a qualitative study was conducted, using a case study method - to investigate progress of ICT integration into disadvantaged schools in the Western Cape .A sample of educators and school coordinators of ICT programs in 4 Western Cape schools was selected, with 8 participants interviewed. The Activity theory analytical framework was developed in this respect. The framework presents ICT integration programme as an activity system consisting of actors, mediators, tools and activities that work together to inform outcomes. Outcomes can either be positive or negative, depending on the interplay between negative and positive mediators, availability and relevance of tools as well as relevance of activities. Findings indicate a negative picture. Computer density was found to be disappointing, with the average ratio of 76 learners per computer. In addition, very few subjects had a computer facilitated aspect. ICT skills amongst teachers were also minimal, with the best of teachers having only received basic training that did not empower them to use computer-based educational programs. Drawing on the activity system framework, it emerges that the goals, mediating factors, and activities in the e-Education policy implementation are disjointed. Implementers are advised to revise the deployment of ICT into schools and possibly have personnel to audit the process, including the funding model. Lastly authorities should invest in teacher training programs and ensure that competent facilitators are appointed to train educators. Also the teacher-training programs provided should be prioritised.