The New Partnership for Africa's
Development – an African Union program focusing on reducing poverty -- is planning a
project to link schools to the internet. A pilot of the e-Schools Initiative
recently wrapped up in 16 African countries. From
Blantyre, Malawi, VOA reporter Lameck Masina has the details.
Schools in more a dozen African countries have been equipped with
computers. The countries taking part in the pilot stage of the project included
South Africa, Rwanda, Senegal and Uganda. Students and teachers were taught how
to use the internet.
Edmund Katiti is an official with NEPAD, the African Union's New Partnership for Africa's Development. Katiti is the policy and
regulatory advisor for the NEPAD e-Africa Commission, a body that overseas the
expansion in Africa of information and telecommunication technology, or ICT. He
initial trial of the project, which started in 2003, was a success.
demonstration phase has come to an end now," says Katiti, "and we are going to have a roll-out.
In [that] phase, even countries that were not in the demo phase can join."
Katiti says in the first phase, equipment was
installed and teachers were given training and shown how to maintain the
says the project planners are now working on implementing improvements
suggested by stakeholders. They want all schools to have common standards for
the technology. Schools that do not get electricity from the national grid will
have to buy generators and solar panels to power the computers.
says to achieve their goals, planners are calling for close cooperation between
ministries of finance, education, and science and technology.
need to have agencies that coordinate between these ministries so that the
initiative can be rolled out. And of course," he continues, "part of the responsibilities of
these implementing agencies is to ensure that [they have the to] rollout this
project is a joint venture of the NEPAD e-Africa Commission, and the
engineering consortium Cisco, which has links to Microsoft.
will help establish an Africa-wide satellite system that will connect the
schools to the Internet and to a central point in each country that will feed
them educational content on a regular basis.
school will be equipped with a computer laboratory with at least 20 computers,
as well as printers and scanners, and the necessary infrastructure.
hopes the project will cover around 600,000 secondary schools across Africa by