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South African Schools To Go Textbook Free

samzenpus posted about 5 months ago | from the no-more-pencils-no-more-books dept.

Education 76

An anonymous reader writes "South African education authorities are about to embark on an ambitious plan to take their schools textbook free, using the familiar refrain of one-tablet-per-child to do so. The education minister in Gauteng (the province which covers Johannesburg and Pretoria) has announced a plan to model new schools in the area on Sunward Park, a government school which went all-digital at the start of 2012. Other schools in the state will then follow, along with a plan to extend the project nationally."

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This always ends well.... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47197945)

South Africa, welcome to ridiculously marked up pdfs of textbooks, no way to "sell back" or "buy used," and licensing/broken device issues. Enjoy!

Re:This always ends well.... (3, Insightful)

NotDrWho (3543773) | about 5 months ago | (#47198017)

Agreed, I think this is less a sign of progress and more a sign of texbook publishers cracking down on used books. School districts will initially think they're getting a great deal, until they realize that all the textbooks they thought they had "bought" will disappear the second they stop making their monthly licensing payments.

Re:This always ends well.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47198403)

Will this end with the mass suicides, as it did in Asia with farmers trying the "Western way" of cultivating crops (which is unsustainable)?

Captcha: mistake

The sad truth about South Africa (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47201309)

I am from South Africa and I can tell you that the thing mentioned in TFA is but a fucking pipe dream

The corruption in South Africa is so fucking high that there are schools in South Africa that do not even get any fucking textbook !!

In fact, BBC did a program on its world service on this specific topic ---

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-... [bbc.com]

I suggest you guys go read it and judge for yourself how fucking not-funny it is for a South African like me to read that fucking pipe-dream (one tablet per student) mention in Slashdot while students don't even get to have ordinary dead-tree based texbooks !!

Mod Parent Up ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47201781)

I am from South Africa and I can tell you that the thing mentioned in TFA is but a fucking pipe dream

The corruption in South Africa is so fucking high that there are schools in South Africa that do not even get any fucking textbook !!

In fact, BBC did a program on its world service on this specific topic ---

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-... [bbc.com]

I suggest you guys go read it and judge for yourself how fucking not-funny it is for a South African like me to read that fucking pipe-dream (one tablet per student) mention in Slashdot while students don't even get to have ordinary dead-tree based texbooks !!

I do not have mod point or I would mod parent up

What parent says is true - I am a South African as well, and I used to support ANC - no more !

They are so corrupted they are ruining the country !

Re:The sad truth about South Africa (1)

Applehu Akbar (2968043) | about 5 months ago | (#47202257)

The proper way to introduce tech like this is to deploy it to private schools first. I know that this approach is "elitist" and unpopular, but a small group of early adopters in a fenced-off environment is an ideal test population, and keeps the inherent value of the technology separate from unrelated external factors ("Tablets won't work because they will all get stolen!"). When hoi polloi see a new technology working in the elite population and being integrated into its culture, then it will be time to spread it to a more general class of students.

Re:This always ends well.... (3, Informative)

turkeyfish (950384) | about 5 months ago | (#47199763)

Actually in South Africa it is far worse than that. The government can't even get the textbooks it has already purchased to students. Tens of thousands of textbooks were lost in warehouses, were rain and wind destroyed many before they were even delivered and as it turns out audits showed that huge discrepancies in what was paid for and what was delivered.

For South Africa going "all digital" is more likely another opportunity for an increasingly corrupt ruling party to steal even more money from the existing system, which is bordering on collapse. Teachers aren't being paid, many school buildings don't have windows or desks, or even walls. To be sure that this is some kind of bad joke, its no secret that the country's electrical supply system is so spotty that it can't keep the lights on in most major cities, without constant power failures even for the homes of the wealthy, much less schools without electricity. Coupled with mounting evidence that computers can actually retard learning and you have the makings of another incredible mess, not to mention much missed opportunity for South African students.

Re:This always ends well.... (1)

grinchier (1373305) | about 5 months ago | (#47200517)

Wow. Way to go in trashing our country.

Re:This always ends well.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47200705)

But that is the truth. Schools also need barbed wire fencing, security guards, .........
Your laptop, cellphone or device will be jacked before you know it

Re:This always ends well.... (1)

fezzzz (1774514) | about 5 months ago | (#47221879)

About 50% true. A lot of corruption in the procurement of text books happened in 2013. The delivery of text books in 2014 was actually much more efficient.

The electricity is in short supply due to an increase in demand, but many power stations are being brought online with the largest dry-cooled power station in the world (Medupi) expected to come on-line in 2014.

The private sector did a stellar job bringing wind and solar energy to the grid with 37 turbines near Hopefield, 30 in Caledon, a large farm (probably about 50) near Jeffrey's Bay and about 20 turbines near Cook House (I'm just quoting these numbers from driving past them). I do however feel that providing tablets to the poorest communities is a bad idea as it will be very expensive to replace damaged/stolen tablets.

Re:This always ends well.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47199975)

Nonsense. They're going to get around this quite easily and pirate the PDFs. There will be no payments.

Re:This always ends well.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47198075)

Boy, my bookshelf will seem awefully empty now... :-(

Re:This always ends well.... (2)

dak664 (1992350) | about 5 months ago | (#47198129)

As always, there is plenty of free and superior course material. The real graft is at whatever level can issue the mandate that the latest and priciest must be used. Nothing but the best for our children, etc.

Already textbook-free ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47198241)

Much of SA seems already to be textbook-free, since the money which was intended for textbooks seems to have disappeared, while the textbooks seem not to have appeared. It's a long-running scandal of the current government.

Re:Already textbook-free ... (1)

riT-k0MA (1653217) | about 5 months ago | (#47200783)

That's because an un[der]educated person is easier to control; easier to brainwash into voting ANC. Cry our beloved country...

What used book market ? (3, Informative)

perpenso (1613749) | about 5 months ago | (#47198273)

South Africa, welcome to ridiculously marked up pdfs of textbooks, no way to "sell back" or "buy used," and licensing/broken device issues. Enjoy!

What "sell back" or "buy used"? K-12 schools seem to buy books and use them year after year until they disintegrate, well at least that was my experience.

The K-12 book market is very different than the college book market.

Re:This always ends well.... (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 5 months ago | (#47198287)

It means huge amounts of government money and subsidies to buy these laptops and tablets, and many third party suppliers and publishers to negotiate with. The sheer amount of bribery and kickback opportunities is probably what drives this.

"I'll contribute to your compaign if you make our competitors illegal..."

Re:This always ends well.... (1)

NoKaOi (1415755) | about 5 months ago | (#47198457)

welcome to ridiculously marked up pdfs of textbooks

From the article about Sunward Park:

“Parents were already spending an average of R1 800 on textbooks every year anyway,” explains Thango, “We were able to sell two different tablets at the start, a seven inch one for R1 000 and a 10inch one for R2 000. Most of our textbooks come from MacMillan or Pearsons, and we were able to negotiate a big discount on three year licences for ebook versions, so it only costs R300 per learner per year.”

So, if the tablet only lasts 1 year and they get the 7-inch, they save R300 (US$28). If they have it for 4 years, they save R5000 (US$470)if they get the 7-inch or R4000 (US$375) if they get the 10-inch.

This also gives them the opportunity to evolve into not using e-books, perhaps at least for some classes. My daughter went to a charter school for middle school that doesn't use textbooks. They didn't get tablets but their classrooms had computers, and they had to have a computer at home. The teachers did an excellent job of finding resources that were IMO better than most textbooks. She also gained great skills in finding info on the web and assessing its reliability. It was more work for the teachers though than just using a chapter in their preassigned textbook, so that might not work so well for many underpaid/disgruntled teachers in the public school system (I am not, by any means, saying that all teachers in the public school system have an "I give up" attitude, but an unfortunate majority of the ones around here do).

I don't like this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47197957)

I'm old and I don't like this. Fuck progress.

Re:I don't like this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47199649)

I prefer reading printed books which are portable, require not power source, are easy on the eyes, and can be put on my bookshelf when not in use.

Re:I don't like this. (1)

grcumb (781340) | about 5 months ago | (#47200201)

I'm old and I don't like this. Fuck progress.

I couldn't agree more about Slashdot curmudgeonery, but the real problem is when that quote comes from the mouths of teachers. Which it all too often does.

Based on my experience (10+ years) working in ICT in a developing country, I think that this plan is:

1) Very audacious; and
2) Very likely to fail. These things work well in micro scale (because of committed individuals), but are very hard to systematise, because of 'I'm old and I don't like this.'

Re:I don't like this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47200589)

Or maybe it'll fail because of DRM and ridiculously overpriced textbooks. Why governments don't just spend money to create public domain textbooks and then copy those for almost zero cost is beyond me. Instead, scumfuck companies have monopolies and make tons of money when they don't deserve it at all.

This applies to whether or not it's digital, but with digital, you're likely going to have DRM. Unless, of course, they just download all the textbooks for free, but I doubt it.

Re:I don't like this. (1)

riT-k0MA (1653217) | about 5 months ago | (#47200811)

More likely to fail due to South Africa's rampant government corruption and tenderprenuers [wikipedia.org] .

Stupidity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47198053)

How stupid.

Not the whole country (3, Informative)

CRCulver (715279) | about 5 months ago | (#47198097)

I am not surprised to hear such a move being made in Gauteng, one of the country's wealthiest states and fairly decently managed by South African standards. However, South Africa is a country of enormous contrasts, and other parts of the country have abysmal schooling -- before whizbang technological solutions, simply improving teacher qualifications and cutting down on absenteeism would be necessary.

Re:Not the whole country (2)

u38cg (607297) | about 5 months ago | (#47201411)

Not to mention the fact there are still kids being taught under trees.

Textbooks aren't that important (2)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 5 months ago | (#47198117)

I grew up in Canada, and I don't recall having textbooks at all until high school, and even then, they were limited. Lots of textbooks in university of course. Personally, I never really saw much value in text books. They tend to contain a lot of material not covered in the course, and also missed out on some material that was covered in the course. The best "text books" I ever had were from professors who provided us with about 100-200 pages of course notes which were just printed off by the university printing department, on large photocopiers. Way cheaper than text books. Way lighter than text books, and contained exactly the material they needed to contain for the course.

Re:Textbooks aren't that important (1)

Agares (1890982) | about 5 months ago | (#47198147)

This makes me think of how much fluff most "text books" have in them. The way we learn in our day and age I think is terribly inefficient.

Re:Textbooks aren't that important (1)

jetkust (596906) | about 5 months ago | (#47198233)

Textbook companies think the internet is terribly inefficient, and not expensive enough.

Re:Textbooks aren't that important (1)

Agares (1890982) | about 5 months ago | (#47206125)

I understand that they need to make money, but as I'm sure you're aware they gouge like crazy.

Re:Textbooks aren't that important (1)

perpenso (1613749) | about 5 months ago | (#47198377)

In the 90s I was visiting an uncle and we were chatting while he was doing something in the garage. I noticed some old books and checked them out, they were his university textbooks from the mid 50s. I was surprised at how small his freshman calculus text was compared to mine. It was very concise and it did not contain all the fluffy graphics and sidebars. Just necessary graphs and charts and illustrations to supplement the core lessons. Occasionally there was a paragraph or two demonstrating a practical application.

I don't think textbook getting worse is a new phenomena.

That said, I recognize that things can vary from subject to subject, freshman calc probably being a subject where a good textbook could last for decades.

Re:Textbooks aren't that important (2)

symbolset (646467) | about 5 months ago | (#47198439)

Compare a chemistry textbook. It is a wonder old high school chemistry texts aren't classified WMD.

Re:Textbooks aren't that important (1)

tomhath (637240) | about 5 months ago | (#47198443)

Best calculus book ever was Calculus Made Easy [gutenberg.org] . It really makes the subject as clear as possible. Everything since is filler.

Re:Textbooks aren't that important (3, Informative)

perpenso (1613749) | about 5 months ago | (#47198521)

Best calculus book ever was Calculus Made Easy [gutenberg.org] . It really makes the subject as clear as possible. Everything since is filler.

"Thus [integral symbol] dx means the sum of all the little bits of x; or [integral symbol] dt means the sum of all the little bits of t. Ordinary mathematicians call this symbol “the integral of.” Now any fool can see that if x is considered as made up of a lot of little bits, each of which is called dx, if you add them all up together you get the sum of all the dx’s, (which is the same thing as the whole of x). The word “integral” simply means “the whole.”"

I may have to revise my earlier statement that a good freshman calculus text can last decades. This book may demonstrate that one can last over a century (1910 publication date).

Thanks.

Re:Textbooks aren't that important (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47204561)

but the integral is not adding all the bits of x, unless the function being integrated is simply f(x) = x....it's adding all the values of f(x) multiplied by dx...

Re:Textbooks aren't that important (1)

j-beda (85386) | about 5 months ago | (#47200359)

Best calculus book ever was Calculus Made Easy [gutenberg.org] . It really makes the subject as clear as possible. Everything since is filler.

That does look like a great text. 2nd edition in 1914!

Re:Textbooks aren't that important (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47198509)

In the 1950s education was about expanding knowledge and teaching those who wish to learn. These days its about getting enough ignorant morons to pass exams so the school & teacher meet their quota.

Re:Textbooks aren't that important (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47209757)

Having been loosely attached to the creation of curriculum texts, there has been a big shift in teaching methods over the past few decades. We have a better understanding of how people learn. Different methods in a single source leads to bulk.

In mathematics, there has been a move away from symbolic because it's not seen as engaging; students tune out. We've been trying other ways to keep students happy but, unfortunately, performance has been falling. This is a real problem as governments have been trying to push up graduation rates.

A concise mathematical text with a symbolic approach is sufficient for most students who are talented enough at math to continue it in post secondary. It is, however, seen as a poor approach for the other students who may need the subject to graduate.

Re:Textbooks aren't that important (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47201557)

Feynman wrote about it once, when he was asked to review textbooks for children:

http://www.textbookleague.org/103feyn.htm

Re:Textbooks aren't that important (1)

PRMan (959735) | about 5 months ago | (#47198157)

We had textbooks growing up in junior high and high school. The math ones were generally excellent. The English were pretty good at exposing you to a wide variety of documents from a wide range of popular sources (everything from the Bible to Shakespeare to Robert Frost and ee cummings to Mark Twain and The Twilight Zone and everything in between).

The history textbooks were poor, giving a complete oversimplification of everything and completely devoid of the religious underpinnings of most of medieval Europe's conflicts. Not to mention they were boring and focused on vocabulary words instead of what was actually happening.

The science books SEEMED good. But if you read them today you would see that they were 50% wrong. I would guess that today's science books are equally worthless, just more dogmatic about their own correctness.

Updating books every year might be a detriment to Math and English (because changes would have made them worse and they were kept for a long time for that reason). Science and history COULD be better, but my kids' books in these subjects are even worse than mine were, so I doubt it.

Re:Textbooks aren't that important (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 5 months ago | (#47198361)

Most things in highschool are oversimplifications of the subject matter. There's no practical way around it, because you can't learn the advanced stuff until you learn the basics. Some people have something similar to the "little lie" (Pratchett) where you tell the untruth to prepare someone for something later (the truth, or a bigger lie). As in electrons orbiting a nucleus, a lie of course, but it helps the student learn the science and be prepared for the later idea that electrons aren't little balls colored blue that go around red protons. Similarly in history, you can not really understand the American civil war without first understanding all the American history prior to that war as well as the social and economic divisions within the country; so it is vastly and ridiculously oversimplified in grammar schools and high schools.

Re:Textbooks aren't that important (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 5 months ago | (#47198305)

Even if they only covered stuff that was already covered in the classroom, that's useful. Not every student is able to retain all that information and maintain full concentration. Typically nobody took class notes until college when I grew up, except to write down the homework assignments.

Re:Textbooks aren't that important (1)

tomhath (637240) | about 5 months ago | (#47198429)

The best "text books" I ever had were from professors who provided us with about 100-200 pages of course notes

The only point I ever saw in textbooks were the homework problems. It saves the instructor the trouble of coming up with good practice problems and the Teacher's Manual gives them the answers so they can grade the homework.

In the right direction (3, Insightful)

AthanasiusKircher (1333179) | about 5 months ago | (#47198203)

I don't know what the practice in South Africa is, but in the U.S., most public school textbooks are provided by the school. Students can't take notes in them or highlight them. That's still the major advantage for me for paper books: they're easier to annotate quickly and informally (particularly on a tablet). But if you can't do that, why do you need the paper book?

Textbooks from the past couple decades are ridiculously heavy, loading with unnecessary illustrations and other bulk which seem to be there simply for eye-candy for textbook adopting boards. (Completely unnecessary in an internet age when a teacher can project photos of just about anything up as necessary.) But this is beside the point.

I've seen many middle-school kids lugging around backpacks that weigh almost as much as they do. Is that really necessary?

With a tablet, it's not necessary anymore. Textbooks can be filled with not only illustrations but audio and video examples or animations, if needed. And that's not even exploring the possibility for new types of interactivity.

As I'm sure many will point out here, the concern is probably about licensing fees, which will probably require an annual fee to keep using textbooks. So, in the long-term, we need to move toward adoption of more free textbooks (or textbooks that can be simply downloaded, without requiring licensing), many of which already exist online. Heck, for many subjects (primary and secondary math, grammar, etc.), public domain PDF textbooks from 100 years ago would cover almost the same material, saving a lot of money to be spent toward, say, actual interactive apps that teach in innovative ways, along with the few concepts left out of the old textbooks.

Re:In the right direction (2)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | about 5 months ago | (#47198317)

Physical Textbooks have one advantage that will never be replicated with digital ones:

Spatial Memory [wikipedia.org]

When I an open a textbook 3/4 of the way through I can use that fact as a mnemonic to help me remember "where" in the book the information is. With a digital "bookmark" I have no clue if I'm 25%, 50%, or 75% through. I am forced to rely on a working Search for the digital book.

I also like the fact that I can highlight my books. If students are unable to do that that is a hinderance to their learning.

Physical books are awesome for linear reading but suck for random searching.
Digital Books are awesome for random searching, but suck for linear reading.

I like to curl on the couch and read a good paperback or hard cover. Reading by tablet is "meh". There is something visceral about being physically connected to the book you are reading by the simple act of turning a page that a tablet completely fails to satisfy.

Every medium has its pros and cons. There is no one size fits all.

As taxpayers we all should be demanding that the government provide open source textbooks. This nonsense of artificially limiting textbook access and pork barrel spending to line some greedy publishers pockets needs to end.

If wikipedia didn't suck @$$ and instead provided a Tutorial and Example sections we wouldn't need textbooks.

But as a society we would rather watch 2 men beat themselves up then pay attention to the greatest role in any society:

The Teacher.

Re:In the right direction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47199429)

>If wikipedia didn't suck @$$ and instead provided a Tutorial and Example sections we wouldn't need textbooks.

That's the goal of Wikibooks [wikibooks.org] (sister project of Wikipedia).

Re:lugging around backpacks (2)

csumpi (2258986) | about 5 months ago | (#47198753)

I've seen many middle-school kids lugging around backpacks that weigh almost as much as they do. Is that really necessary?

Yes, it is. It's called exercise. And after completely destroying physical education, to protect fat kids from being heckled, it's the last bit of exercise kids get nowadays.

So go on ahead, take this away, too.

Re:lugging around backpacks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47198999)

There's a difference between healthy exercise, and destroying a developing person's back.

Re:lugging around backpacks (1)

AthanasiusKircher (1333179) | about 5 months ago | (#47199471)

Yes, it is. It's called exercise. And after completely destroying physical education, to protect fat kids from being heckled, it's the last bit of exercise kids get nowadays.

I knew when I wrote that line that it would bring at least one of you guys out to comment.

Look -- I completely and utterly agree with you that kids don't get enough exercise. There are all sorts of causes for this.

But the solution is not to force them to lug a large mass of stuff around in an unergonomic way while their bodies are still growing. There are all sorts of problems [nytimes.com] with this. (And sure, it is possible for kids to get reasonably designed backpacks that distribute the weight well, but even if they have them, many kids do stupid things carrying them. I know I did when I was a kid.)

I'm all for having mandatory physical education or mandatory sports or whatever for kids -- something that would be a healthy way to exercise their bodies. This isn't a good one.

Re:lugging around backpacks (1)

jeIlomizer (3670951) | about 5 months ago | (#47200683)

I'm all for having mandatory physical education or mandatory sports or whatever for kids

I don't like sports. I don't need to be taught how to do pushups or situps; I can learn that in five seconds. If you want to learn how to play a sport, voluntarily sign up for PE or learn to do it yourself. Educational institutions should be about bettering people's understanding of the universe around them, not about making them exercise. Don't waste my time with this junk, which one will never use if they leave school or after they graduate unless they really care.

This "I think it's a good idea, so it should be mandatory!" mindset is part of what makes me advocate homeschooling, aside from the problems with rote memorization, standardized testing, and one-size-fits-all education.

Re:lugging around backpacks (1)

dont_jack_the_mac (2882103) | about 5 months ago | (#47204501)

I remember carrying tons of textbooks home and now I have traps of steel. Thank you American public school system.

Re:In the right direction (1)

csumpi (2258986) | about 5 months ago | (#47198761)

exploring the possibility for new types of interactivity

You mean candy crushing?

.

Re:In the right direction (1)

llamapater (1542875) | about 5 months ago | (#47203077)

Students don't own the textbooks in a lot of schools, they're returned to the school at the end of the year. Writing in it is a quick way to end up with the student paying for the book.

Re:In the right direction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47204525)

I was surprised to find out that students in the Jersey City public school system were given homework, but not allowed to take their textbooks home with them. The books stayed in the classroom.

I'ts about time (1)

jetkust (596906) | about 5 months ago | (#47198223)

The only reason we used textbooks in the first place was because the internet wasn't invented.

We all know... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47198281)

how better it is to have a small 7 to 11 inch screen to look at math or science material than a splayed out book, especially one where we can stick post it notes and easily flip back and forth, and sometimes "curl/bend" the pages so we can look at two sections at once.

Seriously though, having a physical book does have it's advantages. Please let students opt for physical books if they so wish.

Have studies been done on attention regarding reading a digital screen versus reading paper?

Re:We all know... (1)

symbolset (646467) | about 5 months ago | (#47199617)

With a decent tablet a small child can carry hundreds of books, all of Wikipedia offline edition, animation based learning materials, interactive learning games and so on. If there is WiFi they can even collaborate. They can make documents, take notes for field studies, including pictures and video, do audio interviews, capture animal sounds.

Textbooks... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47198291)

So I should dump my stock in Dunder-Mifflin?

Textbook is for dumies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47198301)

No textbooks maede me becum smart. No waist monie on dem!
#ForTheChildrenz!

Re:Textbook is for dumies (1)

symbolset (646467) | about 5 months ago | (#47198387)

And the textbook industry rep weighs in.

Who invented, and who manufactures... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47198341)

... the computers that Africans use?

Don't tell me, 'racism', 'the legacy of slavery', yadda yadda yadda...

Just imagine if white countries were incapable of making their own technology, and had to rely on handouts on Africans... and imagine if some of the Africans made endless excuses about why the poor, hard done by white people couldn't make their own technology...

Texbook free or textbook company free? (1)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | about 5 months ago | (#47198381)

There is a huge difference. Are they going with opensource textbooks and whatnot, or are they merely paying the textbook companies massive amounts of money for even less?

So far in the 23 years of schooling that my two daughters have attended there is a grand total of 1 textbook that came close to impressing me. Overall the textbook mostly sucked but its approach was refreshingly good and I suspect would have a very high long term retention rate.

At the same time I could make a fairly good list of some excellent math books and resources that would blast various subjects right into the students' skulls in short order, nearly all of which are tablet friendly.

Re:Texbook free or textbook company free? (1)

Alain Williams (2972) | about 5 months ago | (#47198503)

Are they going with opensource textbooks ...

Maybe not a lot of them at the moment, but a textbook only needs to be written once, 'published' for free and it can be used by everyone for ever afterwards. OK: not quite so simple since they will need to be updated for changing curriculum needs (especially things that change like the sciences) and will need to be translated into different languages. But an e-textbook done properly & you can do so many things that paper cannot: links to videos, links to stuff on the net, good searching, student annotation/highlights & linking between topics.

Writing good textbooks takes effort, but a start would be copies from the net of individual articles explaining single topics -- bitty and inconsistent styles but a start. The traditional textbook vendors are going to fight back, it will get dirty but, in time, they will lose.

Re:Texbook free or textbook company free? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47198837)

neither.

they will end up exchanging expensive textbooks from textbook publishers with expensive electronic textbooks and web services from textbook publishers.

Re:Texbook free or textbook company free? (1)

Adam Oxford (3411593) | about 5 months ago | (#47200843)

Hi - there's no confirmed syllabus yet, but the school they're modelling on has (imo) a really good system. The learning portal has been put together by a third party and aggregates a load of free resources like Khan Academy, BBC learning, Works of Shakespeare, Moodle etc with the proprietary course books required for South African syllabus. The price is really key - in many government schools, pupils are expected to buy their own textbooks - a tablet + licences for the requried texts works out a bit cheaper in the first year and with huge long term savings (assuming the tablet doesn't get broken...)

Every country should do this (1)

DrXym (126579) | about 5 months ago | (#47198501)

I wish countries would use public money to produce some ebooks for their schools. They could distribute it free as an epub file and there would be no royalties or copyright to care about, no heavy schoolbags, or parents / schools who have to buy them. Just some epubs on the end of a link, free to download and use on any tablet or ereader that supports the format.

It seems beyond bizarre that countries are able to specify in exacting detail what content books should contain and are able to write examination papers that test those subjects but they outsource the actual production (and copyright) of textbooks to somebody else.

Re:Every country should do this (1)

j-beda (85386) | about 5 months ago | (#47200377)

I wish countries would use public money to produce some ebooks for their schools. They could distribute it free as an epub file and there would be no royalties or copyright to care about, no heavy schoolbags, or parents / schools who have to buy them. Just some epubs on the end of a link, free to download and use on any tablet or ereader that supports the format.

It seems beyond bizarre that countries are able to specify in exacting detail what content books should contain and are able to write examination papers that test those subjects but they outsource the actual production (and copyright) of textbooks to somebody else.

Hear, hear! (or is that "Here, here!", or maybe "Hear, here!". Certainly not "Here, hear!", yes?)

Re:Every country should do this (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about 5 months ago | (#47201335)

It is "hear, hear".

Elsewhere in Africa (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47198635)

Many other African countries have had textbook free schools for years.

They got it bass awkward. (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 5 months ago | (#47198865)

They should be going in for free textbooks, not textbooks free.

rolling blackouts = poor choice without lot batter (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 5 months ago | (#47199071)

SA has lot's of rolling blackouts.

So it's an poor choice without lots battery's and back up power systems.

Re:rolling blackouts = poor choice without lot bat (1)

Adam Oxford (3411593) | about 5 months ago | (#47200925)

The MEC did address this (I didn't mention it in the article) and said that they'd make sure all schools that get the new tech have backup generators.

Sounds great in theory... (1)

zennling (950572) | about 5 months ago | (#47199443)

...but look at what happened in Australia (where im posting from). Laptops were provided, but there was no real support. Not all the teachers knew how to use them or fix any errors that occurred - training was an issue. And unless they have control over what textbooks are being provided, as others have said, it doesnt really save any money. Source - my sister went through this in the Australian high school system about 5 years ago. I see they have a pilot school that did the change 2 years ago, so maybe they learnt some things, but the all digital school is just a buzzword right now I feel. If they can pull this off, it could possible be a great example for more advanced economies on how to do it affordably.

Limpopo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47200373)

Limpopo has been text book free for a while now.

http://www.news24.com/Tags/Topics/textbook_saga

They already are textbook free ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47202117)

Limpopo Province is leading the pack on this exciting development: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-19802372

Already textbook free (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47202909)

I thought the problem was that the majority of the schools are already textbook free...

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