In 2015, the department launched the campaign, which saw 16 000 tablets issued to learners on condition that they were to be returned by the end of the year.
In 2016, 82 000 tablets were issued to Grade 12 pupils as part of the pilot project, but 9 865 were not returned.
The department has admitted that theft in schools was its biggest challenge with regard to e-learning and smart devices.
At the launch of the Textbooks and Tablets Retrieval campaign earlier in October at the Sebothoma Hall in Hammanskraal, Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said parents should remind their children that withholding the department’s learning material was the same as theft and that there would be consequences.
The purpose of the campaign is to instil discipline and a sense of responsibility in pupils regarding the adequate management and care of the department’s resources.
The campaign aims to retrieve devices issued to the province’s Grade 12 learners
“The safe return of study material enables the department to plan on time for 2018, so that when schools reopen for the new academic year, we are ready to commence with teaching and learning,” said Lesufi.
Lesufi added that this would save taxpayers’ money, which could be redirected to other educational purposes, such as the implementation of the department’s ICT strategy.
During the delivery of his Budget vote speech at the Provincial Legislature in June, Lesufi announced that the department would be bringing Grade 11 learners onto the paperless platform, followed in 2018 by Grades 9 and 10.
At the Textbooks and Tablets Retrieval campaign launch, Lesufi concluded by saying “the return of the devices impacts on the achievement of access to quality education in South Africa as a whole”.
The department is warning learners who do not return the tablets that they will face criminal charges.