The attitudes and self-reported competencies of educators in rural schools of KwaZulu-Natal regarding the use of information communication technology to delivery e-education to rural communities.
Matsemela, Yvonne Nonhlanhla.
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In 2004 the South African Department of Education released a White Paper on e-Education in which it outlined its intention to introduce Information Communication Technology (ICT) to deliver e-Education in South African schools by 2013. The White Paper prompted this study on the attitudes, perceptions and competencies of educators in rural schools of KwaZulu- Natal towards this policy with the aim to establish whether they would be willing to adopt e-Education and whether they would be ready to implement the policy in the classroom. A study of educators' perceptions about e- Education and their willingness to adopt this form of education delivery enables one to establish their level of e-Readiness. The researcher conducted a literature review and formulated e- Readiness as the theoretical framework of the study. This was followed by a quantitative research involving a suitably representative sample of educators in rural schools of KZN. It aimed at establishing educators' use of basic and advanced electronic communication technologies as indicative of e-Readiness. A follow-up survey was conducted which intended to establish educators' use of cell phones as an indication of e-Readiness. Both surveys were conducted by means of structured questionnaires. Data processing and analysis were done using analytical program SPSS 13. The major findings of this study are that educators in rural schools of KwaZulu-Natal are not ready for the rollout of e-Education. Among the factors limiting their e-Readiness are: a lack of exposure to advanced electronic communication technologies emanating from lack of technological infrastructure as well as resources in the majority of schools in the rural areas. Another factor is inadequate computer skills needed for effective teaching in an e- Education setting. Those with computer training have not been able to utilize their skills at the poorly equipped schools where they teach and would therefore require retraining. The study, however, revealed positive attitudes among educators and willingness to adopt and implement the e-Education policy should these problems be addressed. Finally comparison of the results of PC based e-Education survey and the cell phone survey indicate that while educators in rural communities are ill-equipped to use computers, they are sophisticated cell phone users, leading one to surmise that they would readily adopt emerging and converging technologies that are set to make available powerful multi-functional communication-computation devices.