Computer Thieves to Be Tracked Down by Technology in South Africa


The Khanya Project, a project of the Western Cape Department of Education, is to install software to track the thieves who steal computers and computer parts from schools in the province.

ICT Implementation Coordinator at Khanya, André Pietersen said despite strong security, thieves target between 10 percent and 12 percent of school's computer laboratories.

"The thieves are not always successful, however, some do get past various security systems to steal valuable computer equipment used by schools to support teaching and learning," Mr Pietersen said.

Khanya is aimed at enhancing teaching and learning using information and communications technologies (ICT).

Explaining how the software works, Mr Pietersen said data is fed to a centralised database and given to the police and second-hand shops. They in turn can then use it to check whether any computer or parts of computers were previously stolen.

Mr Pietersen said it was important to record serial numbers of both the computers and its parts because thieves usually broke up computers in IT "chop shops" to sell the components.

"The system sends the data to the central database automatically via the internet and schools can also back up the data onto a flash disk," Mr Pietersen explained.

He encouraged schools to use both systems in case internet connections go down at any point.

The software automatically detects whether any parts have been added or taken out of any computer or the school network, so that those with the right password can maintain and update the system.

He said that the system was already being used in the in the eastern district where police recently used the data to identify stolen hard drives.

The project team is in the process of rolling out the system to other education districts in the Western Cape.

Khanya have funded 21 295 computers on Khanya computer laboratories to date, while schools funded a further 13 717.

The project not only aims to ensure that learners are computer literate but to use ICT to support teaching and learning.

It focuses on teacher training and support to ensure that teachers know how to use ICT to enhance education.

Up to date, the project supports 21 119 teachers on how to use computers to enhance teaching and learning for the benefit of 711 416 learners.