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Education & Training news

e-School project brings reality to 'cyber island' dreams

16 May 2007 17:01
The NEPAD e-Schools Demonstration Project was recently launched by Mauritian Prime Minister, Dr Navinchandra Ramgoolam, at Belle Rose State Secondary School, in Plaine Wilhems District, south-eastern Mauritius.
The project is a joint venture of the Mauritian Government, Cisco Consortium, Microsoft Consortium, and NEPAD e-Africa Commission. The launch, which covers six schools across the country, makes Mauritius the eighth country to launch the project after Uganda, Ghana, Lesotho, Kenya, Rwanda, Egypt and South Africa.

Said the Prime Minister: "In Mauritius, we started the initiative to make this country a 'Cyber Island'. The NEPAD e-Schools is therefore very much welcome as it fits very well with my government's vision to propagate an ICT culture and facilitate the emergence of an information and knowledge-based society, and to reduce the digital divide."

The NEPAD e-Schools Project is a showcase of the fruitful private-public sector partnership to benefit children.

Ramgoolam encouraged more companies to join the noble cause of bridging the digital divide that threatens to leave Africa behind in development.

The NEPAD e-Schools Project falls under the auspices of the NEPAD e-Africa Commission - the NEPAD/African Union information and communication technology task team responsible for developing the NEPAD ICT programme and implementing related projects.

Origin
First announced in 2003 at the Africa Summit of the World Economic Forum in Durban, South Africa, the e-Schools project focuses on providing end-to-end ICT solutions that will connect schools across Africa to the NEPAD e-Schools network and the Internet. It also includes the provision of content and learning material and the establishment of health points at schools.

Said Dr Henry Chasia, NEPAD e-Africa Commission Executive Deputy Chairperson, "The vision of the NEPAD e-schools is to make all learners in African schools ICT literate by installing ICT equipment in these schools, connecting the schools to the Internet, training pre-service and in-service teachers in the use of ICT, supporting efficiently managed schools by training school administrators in the use of ICT, contributing to the acquisition and exchange of educational content across our continent and equipping each school with a health point to serve as a source of health information as well as undertake specific health interventions as may be required. We have the vision to graduate from our schools all across the continent, strong in body and mind, young men and women, who, as our future citizens, will participate as equals in the global information society and knowledge economy of the 21st century. Young men and women, who will harness the promise of this technology for the development of our countries and lead our continent to a future of peace and prosperity."

Dr Chasia also said that continental coordination will ensure the achievement and sharing of best practice, common standards and unified technical specifications which will, in turn, facilitate collective negotiations and bulk procurement of services from suppliers. This is expected to result into significant cost savings for individual schools and thus make the project more affordable and sustainable for the different governments and communities.

IT suppliers
The Cisco and Microsoft Consortia are responsible for providing IT solutions to the selected six schools in Mauritius. The Cisco Consortium is providing solutions to Belle Rose State Secondary School, Windsor College and Ambassador College. The Microsoft Consortium is providing solutions to MEDCO (Cassis) Sec. School, Mont Lubin College, and Rose Belle High School.

Mr Bill Sounders, Cisco representative said, "Cisco believes that education and the Internet are two great equalizers and we have a tradition of supporting education initiatives throughout Africa. Our comprehensive end-to-end solutions provided by our committed team of private sector partners is far beyond technology to long-term development. By creating an environment that enables school teachers, administrators, technical staff and learners to achieve their goals, we shall create a real opportunity for positive transformation. We look forward to long-term partnership in this journey."

Long term goals
The NEPAD e-Schools Initiative aims to transform African secondary schools into NEPAD e-Schools within five years from the start of implementation, and all African primary schools within 10 years of implementation outset. In total, more than 600,000 schools across the continent will enjoy the benefits of ICT and connectivity to the NEPAD e-Schools satellite network on completion of the project.

The countries participating in this demonstration project are: Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Egypt , Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Mali, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa and Uganda.

Source: NEPAD e-Africa Commission

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