" ITREALMS: NEPAD e-schools to bridge divide – Ngouka


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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

NEPAD e-schools to bridge divide – Ngouka

THE New Partnership for Africa ’s Development (NEPAD) electronic-schools initiative has been hailed has having the potential of bridging the digital divide and ensuring socio-economic development of African countries, reports CHARLES OKOH.

Making this observation is the Deputy President of South Africa , Phumzile Mlambo Ngouka, while declaring open the NEPAD e-schools stakeholders’ conference in Johannesburg , South Africa.

Speaking at the conference, which held from April 15 to 18, Ngouka said to participate in the worldwide knowledge economy, “we have to strengthen our collaborative efforts and develop effective national and coordinated regional strategies which will enable African countries become knowledge economies to stay above water.”

According to her, NEPAD e-schools initiative holds substantial benefits for all African people with the use of ICT, the levels of educational standards as the levels of educational standards and skills of young Africans as well as addressing inequality, poverty and unemployment in the continent.

She further noted that taking this initiative forward marked the beginning of meeting the challenges of bridging the digital divide.

Adding that ICT skills development is not only about infrastructure, but “it is about the interface between infrastructure, connectivity, electronic content and people.”

Stating that “It is not the hardware or the software that makes the difference but about teacher development, management efficiency, skills improvement and most importantly, about building the ICT skills of the people because these skills are a sought-after commodity and those who have the skills have a better chance at surviving the 21st century challenges,” she said.

Deputy President Ngouka also advised on the need to harness the growth in ICT so that it can change the lives of the people for the better, noting that the continent is experiencing the fastest growth in internet connectivity but said more needed to be done to ensure all Africans use ICT.

Speaking also at the conference, the Deputy Chairperson of the NEPAD e-Africa Commission, Dr, Henry Chasia, said demonstration projects have shown that ICT improves the quality of teaching. According to him a teacher in a rural isolated school who is connected to the internet has access to a wealth of educational materials to prepare his lesson and can exchange information with colleagues and enrich his or her courses by using ICT in the classroom.

Some of the participants at the conference included Nigeria , Algeria , Burkina Faso , Cameroon , Egypt , Gabon , Ghana , Kenya , Lesotho , Mali , Mauritius , Mozambique , Rwanda , Senegal , Uganda and South Africa . Of these, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Mali, Mauritius, Rwanda, South Africa and Uganda have already launched the NEPAD e-schools in their respective countries.

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