From digital divide to digital equity: learners

SOURCE: International Journal of Education and Development using information and communication technology
PUBLICATION YEAR: 2010
TITLE AUTHOR(S): G.B.Gudmundsdottir
KEYWORDS: DIGITAL DIVIDE, INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY, LEARNER ASSESSMENT, PRIMARY EDUCATION
DEPARTMENT: Democracy, Governance and Service Delivery (DGSD)
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 9919

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Abstract

This study explores factors influencing the digital divide in four schools in Cape Town, South Africa. Three of the schools are for disadvantaged learners whereas the fourth was previously for whites only. All the schools use ICT in their curriculum delivery and thereby support the emphasis of provincial educational authorities on ICT access for all learners and teachers. Seventh-grade learners (N = 290) as well as their class teachers and principals participated in the study which focused on factors inside and outside of school which affected learners' ICT competence, and hence the digital divide. Data were collected through interviews, observations and questionnaires. Learners' ICT competence was compared between and across schools in relation to gender, home access and home language in addition to support and training possibilities for the teachers. The main findings indicate that, despite substantial efforts by educational authorities to increase ICT access for learners and teachers in public schools in Cape Town, when learners' ICT competence is compared, digital equity has not been reached. In order to increase digital equity and decrease the digital divide, a renewed policy focus is needed which puts greater emphasis on addressing the severe inequalities of the learners within their school environment as well as outside of school, taking their home situation into consideration to a greater extent.