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NEPAD e-SCHOOLS ICT PROJECT

Government Communications (GCIS) BuaNews
Fouth Edition 25 October 2005
By Thapelo SAKOANA

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At least 600 000 schools in Africa will be connected to one another via a satellite network in a bid to help schools produce maths and science whiz kids.

This thanks to the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad) e-School initiative, aimed at equipping all African primary and secondary schools with Information Communication Technology apparatus such as computers, radio and television sets, phones and fax machines, communication equipment, scanners, digital cameras, copiers and to connect them to the internet.

Addressing the Youth into Science Strategy (YSS) conference today, Professor Peter Kinyanjui of the Nepad e-Africa Commission said the first phase would be rolled out in the first 20 countries to sign the African Peer Review Mechanism agreement.

They include South Africa, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Mauritius, Uganda, Mali and Cameroon, among others.

The two-day National Consultative conference is attended by about 300 representatives from sectors such as science councils and centres, government departments, non-governmental organisations and institutions of higher learning, among others.

Delegates are exploring ways to rekindle young people’s interest in the fields of maths and science, for them to contribute towards technological developments in the global world.

Professor Kinyanjui told delegates that the e-School initiative was aimed at bridging the digital, knowledge, information and resource divides within the continent and the rest of the world.

“No one will come and develop Africa for us. Although we shall accept partners from other parts of the world, we must pull it off ourselves,” he said.

“The objective is to also ensure that African countries are connected to a broadband fibre-optic network that is in turn being linked to the world,” he added.

Professor Kinyanjui said in the process this drive would ensure the development of human resources, business and entrepreneurship skills as well as local content in the field of science and technology.

“For this to work, you need skills particularly among young people to ensure sustainability and a bright future.”

For this project to attain optimal success, he said, there was a need for the African Diaspora to utilise the expertise amassed in other continents for the development of their own.

Some experts were already ploughing back to the continent in this regard through the establishment of the Friends of the Nepad e-Schools programme.

Professor Kinyanjui said this patriotic exercise would in turn award the African Diaspora with greater spin-offs such as investment opportunities in science and technology.

People in rural areas within the proximity of these schools could also benefit if necessary capacity was created in business and entrepreneurial skills.

“Somebody in rural areas with these skills should set up a support network to service these schools. This is an opportunity for people to take advantage of,” he said.

Professor Kinyanjui added that learners in these schools would acquire ICT skills that would help them participate in the emerging information society and knowledge economy.

Educators would also get knowledge in utilising provided tools with the ability to translate their rightful understanding to learners.

BuaNews

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