31 January 2014

Africa: Southern Africa Archbishop Launches Africa E-Reader Project

The Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa (ACSA) has launched a new e-reader project to "promote electronic learning in dioceses in the Western Cape and at the Province's principal residential college for ordinands".

The Most Revd Dr Thabo Makgoba launched the new initiative when he opened and blessed a new Centre for Reflection and Development at his official residence and offices in Cape Town, on January 28.

During the opening ceremony, Archbishop Makgoba said, "We're continuing a tradition of a passion for education. We [the Church] have played a pioneering role in South African education, from as far back as the 19th century."

In this project students will be supplied with electronic readers or tablet computers to give them access to webcast lectures from Bishopscourt and other venues. They will also be able to download readings as well as log into the electronic academic library resources.

The Revd Godfrey Walton is the inaugural director of the project. He said, "In the first phase of the project, students from College of the Transfiguration (COTT) and students and ordinary church members from four dioceses in the Western Cape will be covered."

He added, "In later phases, we plan to extend the project to cover the Church in the rest of southern Africa, and then to the whole continent."

Archbishop Makgoba recounted the education history of the country and how the Church has been involved as a pioneer. He said, "In the 1980s, Bishopscourt established one of the country's first electronic bulletin boards, used by Archbishop Tutu to circumvent hostile media reporting during the anti-apartheid struggle."

"It was here too that my predecessor, Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane, conceptualised and started the Historic Schools Restoration Project to revitalise schools, [which] played a pioneering role in educating black pupils," he said.

The Archbishop was grateful for the support the Church in Southern Africa has received from the Compass Rose Society, the Anglican Communion Office, Trinity Church Wall Street, the Motsepe Foundation and The Archbishop Thabo Makgoba Development Trust.

Currently, most theological colleges in the African continent have under-resourced libraries and the "e-reader project will serve as a major electronic resource for students and clergy involved in academic reading and research."

Despite having challenges like many other Africa countries, education standards in South Africa are comparatively high and according to research, South Africa compares well with international standards.

By ACSA media team, with additional reporting by Bellah Zulu

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