18 April 2007
Technology was vital to pulling Africa out of poverty, President Thabo Mbeki said at the South Africa launch of the the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad) e-Schools demonstration project in Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga on Tuesday.
Since Nepad approved the initiative in 2003, it has begun rolling out in Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Mauritius, Rwanda and Uganda. It will be rolled out in another 12 countries later this year.
The ultimate aim is to extend the programme, currently in a pilot stage, to around 600 000 schools across the continent over the next 10 to 20 years.
Schools taking part in the project are equipped with a computer laboratory containing at least 20 personal computers, a server and network infrastructure, as well as peripherals such as scanners, printers and whiteboards.
“This project is helping our young ones to acquire knowledge and the capacity to use their brains to change our country and continent for the better,” Mbeki told teachers and pupils at the Maripe Secondary School on Tuesday.
South African schools to benefit from the project include Maripe, Isiphosethu High in KwaZulu-Natal, Kendrick Makapan in North West, Lomahasha Secondary in Mpumalanga, Thozamisa High in the Eastern Cape and Ipetleng Secondary in Free State.
The Nepad e-Africa Commission’s deputy chairperson, Henry Chaisa, said the project aimed to create a critical mass of African youngsters with the information and communication technology skills that were crucial to doing business in today’s world.
South Africa’s deputy education minister, Enver Surty, said the project was about more than providing students with computers. “It’s not only about computers,” Surty said. “We need to re-skill our teachers so that the skills can filter down to the learners.”