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etextbooksLast month, Basic Education Deputy Minister Enver Surty launched the initiative in Boksburg in partnership with Modern Information Business (MIB). 10 April 2013 - Using the etextbooks, Sunward Park students and teachers have access to all the books, on all the subjects, in all the grades, as well as to other materials and resources.

Days may be numbered for printed textbooks, after the Sunward Park High School developed a full conversion of a physical textbook into an etextbook with the hopes of making for easier teaching and a more efficient schooling system.

Last month, Basic Education Deputy Minister Enver Surty launched the initiative in Boksburg in partnership with Modern Information Business (MIB). The required etextbooks were made available as PDF downloads with support from publishers Macmillan and Maskew Miller Longman, giving teachers and pupils the ability to log on to a massive portal that contains all the books, on all the subjects, in all the grades, as well as access to all materials they need.

Vivian Naidoo, who wanted to use information and communication technology (ICT) in education to empower South African communities, started MIB 16 years ago. The company provides solutions to private and public schools. It has completed more than 500 maths, science and computer laboratories in southern Africa, and is working on 600 more.

Zakhele Sibeko, a Sunward Park teacher, said that innovation of this kind was what pupils in this country needed to be adequately prepared for further studies at tertiary level. "It makes life easier for us as well as the learners. All the information we need can easily be accessed from the educational portal provided."

Sibeko added that teachers' passion was to impart skills and knowledge to learners. "Through these tablets, learners can now explore different sources, download various information of the same content which has been taught in class, and can even explore more learning resources through the portal."

Faith Makgoba, a Sunward Park pupil, said students could not be happier for the load that's been taken off their shoulders, both literally and figuratively. She said the launch of etextbooks in the classroom had made the learning experience that much easier and more enjoyable – and it had relieved them of the heavy school bags that they used to carry to school every day.

"We can now access previous question papers, which will help us with our exam preparations as well as general learning. We also are no longer limited to the resources provided at the school. The tablets enable us to access all elearning material from the portal," Makgoba said.

Surty pointed out: "Teachers need to embrace technology in teaching in order to make the ICT work. The Department of Basic Education has already digitised all our learning materials and this material is accessible from the Thutong portal to all learners and teachers in schools."