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Network administrators in schools

Almost every school has a computer network these days it seems, some small, some medium and some very large and complex. The South African government is trying to get computers and computer labs into every school in the country, which is both an ambitious and commendable project.

One thing that doesn’t seem to be getting attention though is who will be managing these computers and labs. Giving the job to an already overworked teacher is an incredibly bad idea. 99.9% of the time, teachers don’t have the skills not training to properly manage a network, but they are often given the job because they know a little about computers. There are a few amazing teachers out there who are able to handle the job though, and I salute them as heroes. The real person who should be doing the job however is the network administrator.

Unfortunately, it seems that most schools don’t know about this person, or don’t have the budget to hire one. That is really unfortunate as by hiring one, they can save themselves a lot of problems in the future. Network admins are trained to handle the network and if they do their job right, can save everyone a lot of misery.

Sometimes though, it doesn’t quite work out right. Schools hire people who are not properly qualified for the job. This can happen because the school is desperate, can’t afford a proper admin or doesn’t know better. At my current job, the previous admin wasn’t a network admin, rather a graphics and web designer. The end result was that the school network was in a terrible shape when my colleague and I took over earlier this year.

I think for many schools, the concept of having someone specialised to just handle computers is a concept they struggle with. Yet, in today’s age and with tomorrow’s world coming, the position is as vital and necessary as the bursar or receptionist. Once schools accept this and make the effort to sort the budget out to allow for this person, that school can offer a well looked after network as one of its selling points. IT will truly become useful in the class and school, and won’t be just a marketing ploy.

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