Learners at the new Menzi Primary school started the 2019 academic year with digital boards in front of them, and tablets in hand.
Less than a week later, and the school in Langaville – in Tsakane township in Ekurhuleni – has been robbed.
BusinessTech reported on the opening of the school, detailing how it contained 33 smart classrooms and cost over R105 million to build. This included spending on smart technology like tablets for learners.
The school also contains two smart science labs, two smart multi-purpose rooms, a library, and dining hall.
At the time of the opening, Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi begged the local community to protect the school.
“If you see someone vandalising these schools, report them to the police,” said Lesufi.
In protecting the schools, Lesufi said the community would ensure that the learners of Menzi Primary have a shot at competing in the imminent fourth industrial revolution, reported BusinessTech.
His words were prophetic, and News24 reports that the school has been robbed.
The report stated that criminals broke down the “main vault door” to access keys which could unlock the entire school, early on Tuesday morning.
Two security guards were allegedly tied up while the theft took place, with the administration and IT offices targeted.
185 tablets were stolen, along with 8 laptops, 2 projectors, 3 desktop PCs, a TV, and R500 cash.
Lesufi has subsequently told the local community that they must help find the criminals and the stolen goods, or all the tech equipment will be removed from the school.
Schools being robbed
This is not the first time a smart school in South Africa has been targeted by criminals looking to take expensive tablets and other tech.
In 2015 it was reported that the Gauteng Department of Education was withdrawing 88,000 tablets from seven township schools due to a rise in the number of burglaries.
In 2017, it was found that tablets allocated to high schools in Gauteng had been smuggled out of the country and sent to Pakistan and India.
This was due to the theft of these tablets.
It has also been reported that learners who receive tablets at school carry them around outside of school hours, which makes them a target for criminals.
This resulted in the suspension of tablet distribution to certain learners, as the department of education said they “were not ready”.