Thutong: SA's education portal
The government's education portal – www.thutong.org.za – aims to improve learning in South Africa through technology.
Launched in 2005, it offers a range of free educational resources: curriculum and learner support material, professional development programmes for teachers, and administration and management resources for schools.
Thutong – "place of learning" in Setswana – features a searchable database of annotated web-based curriculum resources for various education sectors, grades and subjects.
It also carries news and information on the latest developments in education in South Africa.
As Thutong's key focus is to create “strong and vibrant” online communities of practice, users are encouraged to connect and share information and ideas with experts and their peers throughout the country and overseas.
Virtual communities have been set up according to interest groups, and their are communities for each learning area and subject. Other groups focus on grades and phases, or special interest such as “inclusion” and “mobile learning”.
There are also groups focused on school management, administration and teacher education. The portal's resources are designed to encourage and develop professional and lifelong learning.
The portal is a free service to registered users, who must go through a once-off, no- cost registration process.
Teachers grappling with the challenges of introducing the new Curriculum and Assessment Policy can browse different “learning spaces”, where policy documents are explained as well as downloadable printable, quality-assured resource material.
Users are encouraged to rate the resources for quality and usefulness, and to submit and share content they might have developed themselves in the course of their teaching.
In its user guide, Thutong says that as it is an online community developed to help and support South African teachers, its usefulness is dependant on the richness of the interactions between community members.
“It is, therefore, essential that community members express their views using the blogs and forums, contribute materials through the upload facility and subscribe to newsletters.”
Users are encouraged to make use of the free resources and to print, photocopy, and distribute them for no profit – as long as they acknowledge the source.
Thutong also serves as a one-stop South African education policy shop, carrying national and provincial policy documents and legislation plus amendments, annotated versions, commentary by experts, and summaries.
Updated: 10 April 2012