Tablets Threaten Student Safety in South African Townships

GET YOUR PRIORITIES STRAIGHT: The Gauteng province of South Africa is distributing 17,000 new tablets to townships around Johannesburg and Pretoria in an attempt to create paperless classrooms. Many townships suffer from rampant poverty, so the new technology has unwanted admirers: thieves. The Economist reports that students receive tips on how not to be mugged when they accept their tablets. Panyaza Lesufi, the provincial education minister, advised students, "Your life comes first," telling them to give up the tablet if confronted by muggers. Schools themselves are also prey: smartboards and tablets routinely disappear from classrooms. Many question the reliance on tablets as the silver bullet that will save underperforming South African schools, especially when some schools do not have textbooks or sanitary bathrooms.

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