SA high schools lag significantly behind those in other developing countries in terms of their access to computers. In addition, only a quarter of public schools offer computer applications technology (CAT) as a subject, and these are mostly the wealthier schools. Almost 70% of quintile 5 schools — those in the wealthiest communities — offer CAT, against just 6% of the poorest (quintile 1) schools. The upshot is that only about 7% of matric candidates (about 35,000 learners) pass CAT each year. This mirrors the severe inequalities in access to technical subjects in general. In SA, half of white males study these subjects, against just 5% of black males. So, broadening access to technical subjects and digital learning would appear to be an important step towards creating a more equitable education system.

However, according to numerous education experts and academic studies, rolling out President Cyril Ramaphosa’s policy of one device per child would likely be a colossal waste ...

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