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NEPAD – Promoting e-schools in Africa

Organization(s):

NEPAD, Private Sector and National Governments

Country (ies):

The countries invited to participate in the first phase were those which acceded to the MOU of the NEPAD African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) as follows: Algeria, Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Mali, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa and Uganda.

Overview:

The purpose of the NEPAD e-school programme is to accelerate development of ICT infrastructure and ICT skills through supporting technical and IT-based education. It is also intended to bridge digital divide in Africa and between Africa and the rest of the world. The e-Africa Commission was created in 2001 and adopted as an ICT Task Team by NEPAD in 2002. It is responsible for developing policies, strategies and projects at continental level as well as managing the structured development of the ICT sector in the context of NEPAD.

Background:

The aim and objective of the e-school to impart ICT skills to young Africans in primary and secondary schools as well as harness ICT technology to improve, enrich and expand education in African countries. The aim is to equip all African primary and secondary schools with ICT apparatus such as computers, radios and television sets, phones and fax machines, communication equipment, scanners, digital cameras, copiers, etc, and to connect them to the internet. Each school is equipped with a 'health point'.

Specifically the NEPAD e-Schools endeavors to provide ICT skills and knowledge to primary and secondary school students that will enable them to function in the emerging Information Society and Knowledge Economy; provide teachers with ICT skills to enable them to use ICT as tools to enhance teaching and learning; provide school managers with ICT skills so as to facilitate the efficient management and administration in the schools; and make every learner health literate.

The e-school focuses on: e-policies, e-Strategies and global ICT governance; ICT Infrastructure and development; Human Development (e-schools and e-health, skills); Business Development and Entrepreneurship; Special Programmes (LDCs, Youth, Women e.t.c); Local Content; Internet and Software Development; e-Applications (e-government, e-commerce, e-tourism); Institution development, capacity building, research and development, Space applications; Public e-awareness.

Implementation:

The NEPAD e-Schools Initiative, which involves 600,000 schools across the African continent, is being executed over a ten-year period, with the secondary school component being completed in the first five years. Three phases are envisaged: 15-20 countries in each phase. The phases will be staggered by one year.

The NEPAD e-Africa Commission is spearheading implementation with several components running in parallel, namely: the Demonstration Project (Demo), the business plan, the satellite connectivity project, teacher training and content development.

The NEPAD e-Schools Demonstration Project: The purpose of the Demo is to accrue a body of knowledge, based on real-life experiences of implementing ICT in schools across the African continent, in order to inform the rollout of the NEPAD e-Schools Initiative.

This includes the investigation and reporting of the typical scenarios, circumstances and requirements for implementation, challenges in large-scale implementation, effectiveness of partnerships and partnership models, and benefits of the envisaged satellite-based connectivity network.

Partnership model: A partnership model has been developed and tested that involves the participating governments, private sector companies and the e-Africa Commission.

The partnership model entails five consortia led by AMD, Cisco, HP, Microsoft, and Oracle, involving more than fifty private sector companies that are funding the Demo. This partnership is agreed in a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed before the start of implementation.

In this private-public partnership, the responsibilities of the parties are as follows:

Government: Appoints and supports in-country structures necessary for planning and implementation, country level coordination and planning, facilitates entry of equipment required for the Demo Project, ensures safety of equipment deployed to the schools, provides conducive ICT regulatory environment, ensures readiness of schools and availability of teachers and other personnel, and approval of digital content.

Private sector: Provides end-to-end solution that includes the deployment of IT and associated networking solutions, sources and delivers suitable digital content, trains first-line support staff and teachers, provides suitable support, maintenance, satellite connectivity and power solution (where necessary).

Each Demo school is equipped with a computer laboratory containing at least 20 PCs as well as a server, networking infrastructure and peripherals such as scanner, white board and printers. The schools are equipped with Internet access and a "health point", which ensures the dissemination of appropriate information related to health matters such as epidemics, nutrition and personal hygiene.

Commission: Ensures political goodwill and commitment, African trans-continental coordination and performs research, monitoring and evaluation.

Other partners: The partnership has been further strengthened by the support and contribution of a number of development partners. The Commission has created a partnership forum, known as Information Society Partnership for Africa's Development (ISPAD). Most of the companies participating in the NEPAD e-Schools are ISPAD members.

There are other partners, apart from the ISPAD members, who are contributing to the development and implementation of the NEPAD e-Schools such as The South African Department of Communications, International Telecommunication Union; South African Council of Industrial and Scientific Research (CSIR)-Meraka Institute; the Commonwealth of Learning together with InfoDev; African Development Bank; and many others.

Outcomes:

Progress
All countries except Algeria have signed the NEPAD e-Schools MOU. Nine countries have already officially launched the NEPAD e-Schools Project in their respective countries. The countries are: Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Mali, Mauritius, Rwanda, South Africa, and Uganda. The Demo project is launched at events normally officiated by the Head of State or Government or his/her representative. Of the nine country launch events organized, six were officiated by the Head of State or Government while events in Egypt, Ghana and Mali were officiated by their representatives.

All launch events have been widely publicized through television and radio stations, and newspapers, and elsewhere through print media, electronic news channels, radio and television. The sustained publicity of official launches has assisted in resource mobilization, strategies for sustainability of the schools and in the visibility and recognition of our development and private sector partners.

Eighty (80) schools in fifteen countries have had computers and printers, local networks, audio/visual equipment, and internet connectivity installed. Teachers and learners have been trained and acquired ICT skills. Another consequence of the Demo project has been the provision or upgrading of infrastructure. For example Bugulumbya Secondary School in Uganda had buildings renovated and power provided to allow for the deployment of the equipment

Mauritius and Kenya have adopted the NEPAD e-Schools Model and have already started rolling out ICT to 100 schools using resources mobilized internally and from partners.

The Commission is using lessons learnt from the monitoring and evaluation reports produced by the Commonwealth of Learning (COL), in partnership with infoDev, to finalise the planning for the rollout.

The teacher training and Online Curriculum Content

Purpose
To provide teachers and learners access to relevant online curriculum content developed to address their requirements, and to enable current and graduating teachers to use ICT to improve the quality of teaching and learning.

The Commission secured funding from the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) to contract a consultant to define the teacher development framework for teacher training and professional development. The consultant has developed a discussion document that recommends parameters for professional development in the NEPAD e-schools environment

The NEPAD e-Schools Satellite Network
In view of the size of the continent and the poor state of its ICT infrastructure, there is need to provide an overlay satellite network that will offer broadband connectivity to the rural areas where the 600,000 NEPAD e-Schools will be located.

The satellite network will be based on leased space segment capacity. A satellite terminal will be installed at each school, with computers and other communication facilities being connected to the Internet through this terminal.

Progress
An architecture study of this network has been completed, which will form the basis for future development for the NEPAD e-Schools Satellite Network. In addition to the communication facilities, non-grid power sources will also be provided at those schools.

Telkom SA has been requested to consider seconding an expert for an initial two year period to help with accelerating implementation. Planned activities include: (i) full system specification including operations centre; (ii) operations centre establishment; and (iii) leasing of initial space segment capacity for commencement of operations.

Aid Effectiveness:

The Commission secured funding from the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) to contract a consultant to define the teacher development framework for teacher training and professional development. The consultant has developed a discussion document that recommends parameters for professional development in the NEPAD e-schools environment.

The programme has encouraged the ownership of the technical education within the framework of the national educational priorities of the participating countries. Furthermore, the programme promotes public-private partnership and enhancing mutual accountability between the two partners. The programme attempts to harmonize the IT application in the participating countries to conform with the international digital standards..

The programme is very experiential and has continued to change the mind sets of Africans to believe that technology breakthrough is possible. This is because counties like Mauritius and Kenya have adopted the NEPAD e-Schools Model and have already started rolling out ICT to 100 schools using resources mobilized internally and from partners.

Capacity Development:

The programme is premised on the idea that knowledge is power. Thus, "Education shall prepare people to take control of their own destiny, liberating them from dependency and endowing them with initiative, creativity, critical thinking, enterprise, democratic values, pride and appreciation of diversity". It promotes capacity development in terms of teacher training of use and application of IT in education.

It is aimed to provide teachers and learners access to relevant online curriculum content developed to address their requirements, and to enable current and graduating teachers to use ICT to improve the quality of teaching and learning.

It is a good lesson for the north south cooperation in the sense that teaching people of the south how to fend for one another is more sustainable than "dead aid" from Northern actors.

Duration:

2006-2015

Name of Primary Contact Person:

Professor Mzobz Mboya

Title of Primary Contact Person:

Advisor: Education and Training

City:

Midrand