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Media Release

Thursday, 28 March, 2002

R10-million project will improve eLearning at technical colleges

Statement by André Gaum, Western Cape Minister of Education.

The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) is working closely with a consortium of German companies to develop innovative ways of using information technology to improve vocational and technical education and training.

The project, worth about R10-million, forms part of a broader international initiative requested by Unesco to improve vocational and technical in developing countries.

The consortium asked the WCED to participate in a pilot project involving technical colleges in the Western Cape, now known as Further Education and Training Institutions.

The Western Cape project is known as Dassie, which is short for "Distributed Advanced Strategic Systems for Industrial eLearning".

A German delegation, led by the German Federal Secretary of State for Education and Research, Wolf Catenhusen, met the WCED and representatives of the German companies today (Thursday, 28 March 2002) to learn about progress on the project.

They were joined by a delegation from the Education Department of the North-West Province, led by the North West's Education MEC, Zachariah Tolo, who are planning a similar initiative.

The delegations discussed further cooperation, with myself and my officials in the WCED.

The Dassie Project involves installing and assessing software and related systems, and providing support in stages to six FET institutions in the Western Cape.

The project began in May 2001 and will last for 26 months. Systems at the six institutions will be linked via an Application Service Provider (ASP) based at the Athlone Technical College.

The project team has already installed stand-alone systems at the Athlone, Bellville and Western Province technical colleges.

They are using special teaching and learning software, known as L3 (short for "Life-Long Learning"), and will be linked via the ASP during the second quarter of 2002. The other participating FET institutions are South Cape, Westlake and West Coast, where the team will start installing systems shortly.

The German consortium comprises 20 companies, led by SAP-AG. Their work includes developing eLearning content for technical and vocational education, and training in the areas of electronics, mechatronics and hydraulics.

The project also includes developing the capacity for content and system design and development at the participating FET institutions, and customising systems for South African circumstances.

The Dassie Project is an excellent example of public/private partnerships at work. The pilot project will play an important role in establishing eLearning in South Africa and further afield. I'm particularly pleased that the Western Cape can play an important role in this process.

The Dassie Project is one of three important eLearning initiatives in the province at the moment, the others being Khanya, which is doing similar work in schools, and our Telecommunications Project, which will link almost every school in the province to the internet during 2002.

My priorities this year include ensuring close coordination of these projects, so that we can realise the full potential of information and communication technologies in education in the Western Cape.

Enquiries: André Gaum 082-772-6608

Issued by:
The Communications Directorate
Western Cape Education Department
Private Bag X9114
Cape Town 8000
Tel: (021) 467-2531
Fax: (021) 467-2363
Email: pattwell@pawc.wcape.gov.za
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