The launch of the Edupreneurs project was hosted in Windhoek last week via Microsoft Teams. The launch was organised by the Namibia Business Innovation Institute (NBII) in collaboration with Glowdom and Eduix (Finland) in partnership with the National Commission on Research, Science and Technology (NCRST), as well as the Southern Africa Innovation Support also known as the SAIS 2 programme.
"The developed information systems must help and make life easier for end users, in this case for teachers, students, principals, officials and parents. New systems must be seen as useful tools rather than an extra burden to carry. This must be emphasised in especially exceptional situations, such as the pandemic, where there is rather much stress and mental load coming from the situation itself. There is no room for extra load coming from unsupportive and unsuitable information systems," said Sanet Steenkamp, executive director in the education ministry in a speech read on behalf of Minister of Basic Education, Arts and Culture, Anna Nghipondoka.
The purpose of this project is to develop a digital business ecosystem in southern Africa able to leverage the EdTech infrastructure and education software development in the region. Such an ecosystem aims at solving challenges that have arisen due to the lack of digital infrastructure and personnel with digital competencies, even more, exacerbated due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Although there are few relevant EdTech solutions across Southern Africa, such initiatives remain isolated, decreasing the potential of consolidating successes to the regional level.
"Innovation is the route to follow, to address the social and economic issues of a given country and we collectively need to develop a culture of innovation and creativity to challenge the 'business as usual' mentality. This will enable us to introduce new or improved products or services, processes and methods. At the same time, we need to achieve inclusive development, a state that is most aspired for in our decorated national development policies contained in the Vision 2030," stated Bernice Ndungaua, Manager of Entrepreneurship and Incubation at NBII.
The project approach aims at building strong collaboration between its stakeholders through participatory design and strong collaboration. For the initial stage of building up the ecosystem, the consortium members will guide all the project stakeholders with a participatory design and co-creation methodology to think collectively about the three final outcomes: the digital platform, the capacity building and the policy paper.
As a way forward, the consortium members are planning on formally launching the digital platform as well as hosting capacity-building workshops for the various stakeholders in the education space locally and regionally. Furthermore, the consortium guarantees that all the project stakeholders will establish and maintain functioning cooperation and communication among each other so that the ecosystem becomes sustainable.