7 June 2006

Namibia: Schools Switch On to Information Technology

Windhoek — NAMIBIA intends having 12 000 teachers trained in basic computer literacy and 350 000 learners using computers for half an hour a week by 2010, according to goals set down by the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) steering committee.

Educationists from across the country, technology specialists and development partners met in Windhoek yesterday for a two-day conference on a three-year pilot project to introduce ICT as a teaching tool in schools.

Three hundred teachers also received basic ICT training during the pilot project undertaken at 13 rural primary and secondary schools.

At the conference, partners will evaluate results, showcase achievements to date and discuss how ICT can be used to teach mathematics, science and English.

The Namibia Education Technology Alliance (Neta) comprising the Ministry of Education, the American Federation of Teachers, Discovery Channel, SchoolNet, World Teach, the United States Peace Corps and Microsoft, started the project in 2002 with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

"The findings are described as very encouraging as they portray the challenges which we need to tackle (and) overcome as a ministry, as a training sector and as a country," Deputy Education Minister Becky Ndoze-Ojo said at the opening.

USAID's Deputy Mission Director Doug Ball said partnerships like Neta were vital to accomplish the ICT steering committees goals.

The US government has supported education and training in Namibia since Independence and is looking forward to continued co-operation in improving education and transforming Namibia into a knowledge-based society.

The Associate Director of the American Teachers Federation, Joe Davis, said evidence using the ICT approach showed there was a significant improvement in the quality of learning during the pilot project.

"The kids were excited about coming to the computer lab and school attendance had improved," he said.

"This is a unique and innovative approach to economic development," he added saying it was not only developing Namibia but also creating an equitable society.

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