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Pandor: Launch of Thutong web site while visiting schools in George (24/01/05)

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Pandor: Launch of Thutong web site while visiting schools in George (24/01/05)

24th January 2005

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Date: 24/01/05
Source: Ministry of Education
Title: Pandor: Launch of Thutong web site while visiting schools in George

    Statement by Naledi Pandor, Minister of Education, on the launch of the Thutong web site while visiting schools in George


24 January 2005
It gives me great pleasure today to announce the launch of the South African Education portal (www.thutong.org.za), which is to be known as Thutong-“place of learning” in seTswana.

Thutong provides a starting point for you (teachers and learners) seeking information to use in your classroom and in your projects. It has been developed in response to a commitment in the e-Education White Paper, launched in 2004, to support the school curriculum in the General and Further Education phases through the provision of effective and engaging software, electronic content and online learning resources. The portal thus provides access to a vast and ever-increasing range of quality curriculum and learner support materials, as well as to professional development programmes for teachers, administration and management resources and tools for schools, education policy documents, and general news and information related to the latest developments in South African education.

I believe that our learners and teachers will draw immense benefit from the portal in their teaching and learning activities. You will find thousands of printable, quality-assured teaching and learning resource materials, which are cross-referenced to the South African curriculum and support the Outcomes-based curriculum statements. I want to encourage you to access the portal and use the information available.

Further information
THE SOUTH AFRICAN EDUCATION PORTAL
A project of the Department of Education
What is Thutong?
Thutong (meaning “place of learning” in seTswana) is the South African education portal, a project of the national Department of Education (DoE).

The Thutong portal provides a starting point for South African schooling communities seeking educational information. It provides access to a vast and ever-increasing range of quality curriculum and learner support materials, as well as educator professional development resources, administration and management resources and tools, education policy documents, and general news and information related to the latest developments in South African education.

The Thutong portal represents a first sustained opportunity to pull together the online educational experience for South African educational communities. The portal is a not-for-profit project. Its extensive resources are made available FREE to its registered users, with particular priority given to the needs of those from disadvantaged schools and rural areas.

The Thutong portal is the realisation of a key objective of the Department of Education’s 2001 Strategy for Information and Communications Technology in Education. That strategy promised to introduce Information and Communication Technology (ICT) successfully to schools, to use technology to make a host of curriculum and support material available to South African educators.

In that strategy, the DoE emphasised the value of partnership between the public and private sectors, to ensure South Africa’s learners receive high quality teaching and learning. The Thutong portal development partners have collaborated, pooling their significant educational and technological expertise and resources to provide ICT in education. This successful collaboration is allowing the DoE to keep the promise it made in 2001: “Through this initiative we will turn our schools into centres of quality learning and teaching for the 21st century”.

How can learners and teachers be part of the Thutong community?
The Thutong portal is an ambitious project, at once daunting and enormously exciting. Its success rests on partnership and participation – partnership with those already engaged in successful initiatives in the educational field, and participation by the full range of South African educational stakeholders and role-players.

As intended beneficiaries of the portal, educators have access to a valuable opportunity to join a growing and supportive community of Thutong users. Not only can users download curriculum materials, create their own materials and share them with others, and interact with peers within the country and abroad – but they can also significantly improve their productivity, self-confidence and sense of being plugged in to developments as they unfold in the wider South African and international education arena.

The Thutong portal is.

COMPREHENSIVE
It provides thousands of printable, quality-assured teaching and learning resource materials (cross-referenced to the South African curriculum), along with educator professional development resources, administration and management resources, tools and software, policy documentation, news items and general information.

HIGHLY RELEVANT
It delivers content that is highly relevant to the lives and learning contexts of South African learners, educators, education managers/administrators and parents.

AUTHORITATIVE & QUALITY-ASSURED
The materials available on the portal have been extensively quality-assured by experts in the education field.

FREE
It makes available its thousands of high quality, usable, print-friendly and relevant educational resources absolutely FREE to registered users.

PRACTICAL & SUPPORTIVE
Is designed to ease the load for educators, allowing them to access the kinds of support and services they need to focus on what they do best – educating. The portal focuses on facilitating educators’ self-management and productivity, both in terms of educators’ individual career trajectories and aspirations and in terms of effective planning and carrying out of their teaching duties.

FLEXIBLE
It allows users to choose from a range of different, easy-to-use searches (e.g. searching by key word or topic or learning area, or an advanced search, etc.) – to discover specific resources or items of interest. Portal resources are for the most part print-friendly and thus suitable for use both online and off-line. In addition, users are encouraged to view, print, annotate, distribute for no profit, collate and save content to local disc, provided that sources are acknowledged.

CUSTOMISED
Is based on the easy, one-off registration process, and sophisticated search facilities, when users search the portal databases, they receive back customised, relevant results and information, catering to their specific interests and requirements.

USER-FRIENDLY
Is easy to use and user-friendly, focusing on being responsive to user needs and assisting users to navigate effectively through the complexity of the South African education terrain.

INTERACTIVE
It fosters an online community of South African educators, who share support and a sense of collegiality. The portal encourages users to interact with the portal itself and with one another, through: submitting their own teaching resources for publication, critiquing the quality and usefulness of the resources already available, participating in moderated online discussion lists and other forms of communication, submitting their news items for publication, and so on.

SOUTH AFRICAN
It makes available resources that have been selected according to their quality and specific relevance to the South African curriculum and education context. Over time – and with active participation and input – the portal resources will continue to expand and become even more representative of South African users’ interests and needs.

Thutong portal services Teaching and learning resources The portal provides educators with a range of resources and services – electronic and online learning support material. This includes a searchable database of annotated web-based curriculum resources for the various education sectors (e.g. General Education and Training, Further Education and Training), across all grades and learning areas/subjects.

All educational content aggregated through the portal is extensively cross-referenced against the National Curriculum Statement (NCS) and Revised NCS (RNCS), to ensure that learners and educators can discover the content and services they are seeking with the minimum of effort. Users are encouraged to rate the standard and usefulness of the curriculum resources and have their say, thus further ensuring the quality and usefulness of the Thutong portal content.

Professional development resources
The portal offers thousands of valuable and relevant teaching, learning and professional development resources – all easily searchable and accessible, and all free to registered users. The portal’s current online resources and planned future courses/modules and workshops are designed to help address the significant challenges of large-scale and ongoing educator professional development and lifelong learning.

School administration and management
The primary purpose of Thutong’s school administration and management services is to provide access to valuable information, utilities and practical guides that may be downloaded from the portal for daily use in schools. While a wide variety of resources is available for general management and governance topics, the focus of the service is on the development and use of efficient education management information systems (EMIS) as a vital component of good school management and governance. Registered portal users may access and download all the content and utilities provided. The portal aligns itself closely with the aims of both the national (EMGD) and national EMIS units and provides specific South African-based resources for school records management, the setting up of a school MIS, computerised school administration systems, the management of ICT resources and school timetabling.

Policy resources
The arena of education policy is complex and potentially bewildering. The Thutong portal aims to provide a one-stop South African education policy shop for users. Both national and provincial policy resources are included in the portal database. And wherever available, legislation in the full range of South African languages is included. The site offers original legislation online, plus amendments, annotated versions, commentary by experts, and summaries.

News service
The portal serves as a useful communications interface between the DoE and its stakeholders (portal users), and carries fresh, authoritative and topical news items. In addition, the portal carries news supplied by provincial departments of education, official news feed providers and organisations active in the education arena. Also available on the portal are updates and alerts on the latest portal services and functionality. Interactivity is encouraged, with registered users able to submit news via a range of news submission tools. Moderated online events, allowing users to interact live with relevant celebrities, or experts from the education community, add a further dimension of interactivity to the portal news services.

Enquiries: Tommy Makhode
Media Liaison Officer
Cell: 082 566 0446
Issued by: Ministry of Education
24 January 2005
 
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