A remarkable success story at 25 schools in Ekurhuleni and Sedibeng, in Gauteng, shows how the use of information and communication technology, including iPads, can stimulate and encourage learning and teaching.
The results of the introduction three years ago of the Peermont School Support Programme at these schools correspond with the results of an international study.
Research into the use of iPads by Longfield Academy, in Kent, UK, showed in 2012 that when schools used these gadgets the quality and standard of pupil work and progress rose.
It also showed that pupils work more effectively with iPads, and that collaborative working improves.
The pupils at one of the 25 local state schools, Gugulesizwe Primary School in Daveyton on the East Rand, are now more eager to learn, absenteeism has decreased and the iPads have had a positive effect on exam results, with pass rates increasing progressively over the years of the continuing private-public partnership .
As found in the international study, iPads are most effectively used in teaching English language skills, numeracy and maths literacy.
Though iPads were designed for personal use, with the development of educational apps the gadget has become an effective learning and teaching tool. But without teachers knowing what is appropriate content, the gadgets cannot be used effectively in schools.
Neither will they be of any use if teachers are not trained to use them properly. The iPads could easily become mere toys.
The world has changed radically and rapidly over the past 25 years with the advent of the internet and the evolution of gadgets, but most school systems and curricula have not kept up with the times.
The risk of all schools not introducing information and communication technology, and of our educational system lagging behind the times, is that our children will not be prepared for a future in which jobs that have not yet been imagined or invented are on offer.