Readiness assessment of the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education to deliver on the mandated ICT strategy.
ICT has the potential to truly transform the institutions that govern and provide social services. Its role in the public sector can, according to Le Dantec and Edwards (2010), be conceived as that of a boundary object, or perhaps more clearly as a bridge between citizens, government and public/private institutions that act on the behalf of both. Existing literature does suggest that while substantial benefits can be gained from Information Technology (IT), according to Kanungo and Jain (2011), the projects themselves often incur additional expenditures and delays. What frustrates deployment even further is that many systems either don’t deliver on the requirements or expectations, or end up too complex for operational pieces. The implications of this is that a proper roadmap for implementation and an in-depth understanding of these obstacles is needed in order to ensure that ICT implementations are able to deliver effectiveness, efficiency and responsiveness for government. This study evaluates the KZN Department of Education in terms of its e-Readiness levels with regard to the implementation of its IT Strategy, and further identifies challenges in implementing this strategy. Recommendations arising out of this study are then presented. The Technology Acceptance Model was utilised in order to evaluate the usage of ICT by staff in the Department. Additionally, the e-Readiness Assessment Framework, as developed by Yesser (2007) for self-assessment in the Saudi e-Government rollout plan, was used to evaluate the Department’s e- Readiness level. Challenges in terms of Human Resources, Finance, Governance, and Infrastructure were identified through interviews with key officials in Human Resources, Finance, Information Technology (IT) Services, Information Communication Technology and Maths Science Technology (ICT & MST), and Education Management Information Systems (EMIS). Questionnaires were also circulated to the primary system users in HR and Finance. The study found that the IT Strategy does align well with the Department’s strategy, and in terms of technical interdependencies between the initiatives. It also revealed however, that finance constraints may not be the primary inhibiting factor to ICT implementation, despite the limited budget availability. Rather it recommends that issues around the governance structures for ICT in the Department and HR issues in the form of insufficient staffing and unskilled staff are the priority issues to be addressed prior to attempting any implementation of complex system development.