The experiences of teachers about teaching computer applications technology at FET band.
Computer Applications Technology is one of the subjects that equip learners with the new technological skills that are needed in today’s life. In the past, many schools used computers only for administrative purposes. This is the case even today in some schools. Very few schools in the rural areas offer Computer Applications Technology. Those that do, face many challenges including a lack of electricity. Computer Applications Technology helps learners acquire computer skills that improve their performance when they enter tertiary institutions. It can also help them to find jobs in companies that need people who are able to operate computers. This is particularly true for learners from the rural areas, since most of their parents are unable to pay for them to further their education at tertiary institutions. On obtaining their Grade 12 certificate, most rural learners look for jobs. This study focuses on the experiences of teachers in teaching Computer Applications Technology in rural areas; the challenges and benefits in teaching Computer Applications Technology; the qualifications of Computer Applications Technology teachers; the use of Computer Technology in teaching; Computer Literacy teachers as motivators in learners’ lives; and teachers and Computer Literacy. The findings of this study reveal that; teachers in rural areas lack a functional Computer Literacy foundation on which to build new technology and skills. The use of computers and related technologies was not a routine part of most teachers’ own educational environment. The number of years of experience and teachers’ status in a school has a significant relationship to familiarity with Computer Technology. A lack of hardware and software; and a lack of knowledge and skills in using computers is a challenge. A lack of or insufficient training opportunities and crowded classrooms are one of the important problems that Basic Education schools face. Insufficient guidance and help in instructional use, insufficient technical assistance, and an insufficient number of computers are other important problems. Most Computer Applications Technology teachers were not trained to teach computers as a subject. This could be because; even in training institutions, computers were only used for administration purposes. Greenwood (1993) notes that; many teachers entered the profession with arts-based qualifications. The introduction of computers in schools is a process which needs time to become self-generating with younger teachers who are now entering schools having used computers in their own training. In South Africa, students have only recently started taking Computer Studies as a major subject in teaching. Previously computers were studied only in certain fields like Computer Science or Information Technology. In rural schools, it is rare to come across a computer laboratory in good condition in terms of space and the number of computers, let alone someone with knowledge of the internet. Rural schools do not have computer centres, internet access, experienced teachers and ample sporting and cultural activities to choose from. However, learners can benefit substantially from this new technology because they can be able to do their work as a group while they are not all in the same physical space. They can share their challenges as they study and prepare for class tests or examinations using the internet. The researcher recommends that the Department of Basic Education should employ teachers who are well trained in Computer Applications Technology. A technician should be employed to service computers at schools and help teachers who are experiencing problems. The Department should encourage primary schools to teach Computer Studies so that when learners study Computer Applications Technology at high school they have a basic grounding in computers. It is recommended that Schools ask companies for donations to enable them to buy computers. They should tighten up their security to make sure that computers are safe. Schools should organise technology specialists to train their teachers. They can use their computer laboratories to offer afternoon classes to the community and charge them for this service. This will help them to raise funds to buy more computers for the school.