Original Research

Examining information and communication technology use in public primary schools in South Africa from the capability approach

Lebohang Mahlo, Zayd Waghid
The Journal for Transdisciplinary Research in Southern Africa | Vol 18, No 1 | a1201 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/td.v18i1.1201 | © 2022 Lebohang Mahlo, Zayd Waghid | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 19 January 2022 | Published: 21 September 2022

About the author(s)

Lebohang Mahlo, Department of Research and Postgraduate Studies, Faculty of Education, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Cape Town,, South Africa
Zayd Waghid, Department of Senior Phase and Further Education and Training, Faculty of Education, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Cape Town, South Africa


In 2015 the Western Cape Government (WCG) in South Africa introduced the e-Learning Game Changer initiative to offer teachers in public schools information and communications technology (ICT) resources to improve their pedagogy. Despite the efforts by the WCG to improve ICT use for teaching in public schools, successful ICT integration hardly takes place in several historically disadvantaged (albeit affluent) schools, which constitute a minority of schools in the Western Cape. The primary aim of this study was to investigate those conversion factors allowing or impeding teachers in two public primary schools in the Western Cape from attaining the potential capabilities required for successful ICT integration. Amartya Sen’s capability approach was used as the study’s theoretical framework. The study employed a qualitative research method involving 10 educators observed during their lessons and interviewed. The findings confirmed that only a few conversion factors, such as the attainment of ICT skills through a community of practice and university training by the teachers, provided them with capabilities to use ICT to deliver curriculum content and perform basic ICT skills effectively. Several conversion factors, including teachers’ age, provincial and school policies, infrastructure and resources, prevented these teachers from realising their ICT potential. This study contends that the White Paper on e-Education (2004) policy might benefit from the results, which could help to build or rethink programmes that encourage continual teacher training.

Transdisciplinarity Contribution: This research shows that policymakers need to take into consideration the conversion factors that may impact teachers’ capabilities to deliver curriculum utilising ICTs. This study’s findings provide new light on how these conversion factors limit or expand teachers’ ICT capabilities.


capabilities; conversion factors; information and communications technology; communities of practice; primary schools; smart classroom.


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Crossref Citations

1. Digital Transformation to Improve Children’s Literacy in Africa: A Scoping Review
Sifundo Nkomo, Walter Matli
Mousaion: South African Journal of Information Studies  year: 2023  
doi: 10.25159/2663-659X/13787