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I Really Want to Go Back to School

Published by on Feb 12th, 2013, No Comments

As a teenager all I ever wanted at school was a locker. There were two reasons for this, firstly so I could have awkward encounters with the pretty girl serendipitously placed next to me and secondly so that I didn’t have to carry all those heavy books around!

Thankfully Core (the distributors of Apple in South Africa) have both solved my historical problems and ruined my serendipity fantasy. Last week the company released ZABooks, a project to get every single South African textbook onto the iPad to get kids learning using digital textbooks.

The concept is simple: you download the ZABooks app onto your iPad (I can see the iPad Mini becoming the de facto choice for schools soon) and then go to the ZABooks website to buy the books you require. You then login to the app on your iPad and you can start downloading books. You can get books from Grade 1 to Grade 12 and at launch there are over 600 textbooks already available. All the major publishers are on board and books are generally at least 25% cheaper than the print editions. I took a random book on the store (Advocates For Change by Moeletsi Mbeki) and while ZABooks charges R180 for it you can get the print edition for R202 on Kalahari.net. That is without shipping (anything over R250 gets free shipping) and Kalahari is generally cheaper than brick and mortar stores so pricing does seem spot on. From a pricing perspective it’s probably going to take a while to amortise the cost of the iPad but in my house we have an upgrade cycle where an “old” iPad is passed down to the younger members of the family meaning that child already had access to an iPad.

As a bonus you can annotate your textbooks by “writing” on them as well highlighting sections and placing bookmarks. You can also download the books chapter by chapter and books also come in six different languages.

Let’s talk about downsides here for a second:

  • It’s damn expensive when your kid accidentally drops or misplaces their iPad
  • This is only realistically going to affect the lives of wealthy kids in private schools

To address issue number one I think parents have the amazing opportunity to give kids the chance to look after a device and instill a sense of values that you can’t just go ignoring a minimum four thousand rand device. That said, it’s going to be an insurance nightmare for some company.

Yes, this is only going to affect top level schools however this is a glimpse of the future for kids around the world. A great job by Core and for the first time in over ten years I can safely say I want to go back to school!

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