Free tablets for Gauteng schools cost breakdown

The Gauteng provincial government (GPG) has issued a statement in which it compares the costs of its previous Gauteng Online (GoL) project to its newly awarded e-Learning initiative.

This follows reports that the GPG had awarded the e-Learning tender to the same company responsible for Gauteng Online, despite the project being unsuccessful.

In its statement, GPG asserts that Gauteng Online is one of the province’s key information and communication technology (ICT) initiatives and that traffic across the GoL network continues to grow.

“The number of learners with GoL user IDs, passwords and e-mail addresses has reached 800,000, while over 40,000 educators in the province are connected to the network,” GPG said.

According to GPG, the GoL project is operational in 1,562 schools and delivers “millions of Internet page requests” every week.

However, advances in technology have made obsolete the physical computer laboratories rolled out as part of the Gauteng Online project, the GPG said.

For this reason it decided to issue a tender to provide tablets, and Wi-Fi, and 3G connectivity to state schools, and rename Gauteng Online to “e-Learning Solution”, GPG said.

Gauteng Online dysfunctional: reports

A number of media reports differ with GPG’s statement and suggest that the GoL project which was awarded to Cloudseed (then SMMT Online) has not been successful.

IOL recently reported that an oversight visit by the finance portfolio committee found that schools viewed Gauteng Online as dysfunctional.

This is because since the installation of computers, the GoL server is constantly down and learners are unable to log in, the report said.

Cost breakdown

In total, Gauteng Online cost the province R2.2-billion, according to the Gauteng provincial government.

The Times disputes this figure, reporting that before Cloudseed the provincial education department already spent R1-billion on the project.

Despite the complaints about GoL’s poor connectivity, GPG awarded Cloudseed the tender to provide Wi-Fi and 3G to schools as part of the new e-Learning Solution.

GPG has now also provided a cost breakdown and comparison between Gauteng Online and the e-Learning Solution. This is summarised in the below table:

Cost breakdown Gauteng Online e-Learning Solution
Total project cost R2.2-billion R396.2-million over 2 years
Tablets: R289-million
Network lease costs: R107.2-million
Coverage 1,552 public shools 2,200 public schools
Coverage per school 25 workstations 40 workstations (each school will receive 44 10″ Huawei tablets)
Asset structure Operating lease Tablets owned by GPG, 24-month network lease to be transferred to Gauteng Broadband Network in January 2016
Business model Turnkey solution 2 service providers
Software application Open source standard Android (open source standard)

MyBroadband asked Cloudseed a week ago for details on which network it would use for 3G coverage and for details on its Wi-Fi rollout.

Cloudseed had not responded by the time of publication.

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Free tablets for Gauteng schools cost breakdown