19 July 2012

Namibia: Technology for Schools


Just a few years ago, a person could succeed in life without being literate. Hard work and some street smartness was enough to propel anyone to prosperity. This is no longer the case. As the world becomes more digitized, prosperity requires some level of technological literacy. Be it in the workplace, institutions of higher learning, profitable farming, retail or any other sector that I can think of, technological literacy is demanded.

Having no digital devices such as computers in the classroom today is, therefore, alarming. A lot of money has been spent on digitalizing Namibian schools. I am convinced that the money that has been spent on schools for computer education, thus far, would have been enough to computerize every school in Namibia. Sadly, many schools are still without computers. I have met children, old enough (teens), who have no idea what a computer is, here in Namibia. Take a moment to think about that.

Why is Technology in Schools so Important?

Studies have shown over and over that technology in the classroom has enormous benefits for all learners. There is positive impact on learners in areas such as basic reading skills, language skills, writing skills as well as in helping learners do advanced work in mathematics and science.

In spite of this fact, the greatest benefit of technology is most evident in children who are behind academically, the under-challenged, unmotivated, special needs students as well as students whose learning opportunities need to more broad based. For these categories of students, a simple print and lecture lesson will not be enough. These students need interactive technology to provide a level of motivational learning that is different from lectures, film and radio. They need to be taught with technology that is empowering and engaging as well as technology that challenges them to do well.

Today, technology has availed to us tutorial software that are highly effective in drill and practice, particularly in reading, arithmetic and language. This technology is helpful to teachers to extend the practice time for the students. The beauty about this technology is that it can be personalized. The student who understands concepts quickly is able to go to the next topics while the others are mastering the other concepts.

There is no better equalizer in education than using technology. If used effectively, a student in the remotest area in Namibia is able to access the same study materials, similar experience, and access to resources as a student in the most privileged school in the country. At no other time in our country's history has there been so much opportunity for all. The same access to high quality learning tools that is available to the most affluent are the same learning tools that can be availed to the impoverished members of our society so that they too, can emerge from poverty and ignorance.

I strongly believe that correct use of technology in schools will give Namibia academic high achievers that will take our country to the promised Vision 2030. I, therefore, call on anyone who is able to enhance the use of technology is schools to do their part to achieve this momentous yet noble goal.

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