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SA’s Department of Basic Education reveals its ICT plans

South Africa’s Department of Basic Education is aiming to utilise technology as a developmental tool for teacher education as well as integrating it into the school curriculum, Mr Enver Surty, Deputy Minister of Basic Education said recently at a gala dinner in Cape Town, at the Microsoft Partners in Learning Worldwide Innovative Education Forum Awards.

Surty said that an inter-ministerial committee had met at the end of October to sign an agreement that binds the Minister of Basic Education, The Deputy Minister of Basic Education, MECs and the ministers of other departments in the achievement of certain goals. While there was a commitment to the provision of quality basic education, Information Communication Technology (ICT) was highlighted.

The commitment is that by 2015 every learner who has passed grade 3 will have had exposure to ICT.

Surty also referred to the undersea cables linking Africa to the world, and vice versa, and said “technology has been taken to the heart of Africa…”

Currently South Africa has about 26 000 schools, of which only 3  in 10 have access to technology and only 1 in 10 schools has access to the Internet, mainly through dial up connections. The government is trying to roll out the Teacher Laptop Initiative which provides teachers with a R130 subsidy per month towards the purchase of a laptop, but the use of technology in teaching methodology is yet to be formally incorporated into the teacher training curriculum.

Surty then referred to the Microsoft Partners in Learning Programme, through which the Department of Basic Education has received R93 million in free software via a national schools’ agreement. More than 25 000 teachers have been trained using the programme’s Teacher Training curriculum and the aim is to foster the development of 21st century skills among learners.

To read the original article by Primarashni Gower on Mail and Guardian Online Click Here!

Fast Broadband for South African Universities

Critical portions of Seacom’s 17,000 kilometre under-sea fibre optic cable linking Africa to Europe and India were completed last month. This marks a momentous occasion for higher education in South Africa. This will enable South African universities to have fast and affordable internet that handles large volumes of data, something that universities around the world have been used to for some time.

Duncan Greaves, acting CEO of the Centre for Higher Education Transfer, said Seacom’s completion last month had profound implications for South Africa’s tertiary education institutions.

“Universities in the northern hemisphere have had 10 to 100 times as much bandwidth than SA universities, the Seacom cable will bring about parity. This will enable SA universities to participate in a meaningful way in research, development and education that was not possible before. It will also enhance our ability to attract and retain professionals who need proper broadband to work.”

The Seacom cable boasts 1.2 terabits per second (tpbs) and should come online by 23 July 2009.

South Africa’s higher education and research institutions will be the first to benefit from this. TENET a charitable company owned by South Africa’s universities and research councils has a deal with Seacom to buy 10 GB/s for the duration of the cable’s lifespan.

Telecommunications infrastructure that takes bandwidth from the cable landing stations to the country’s 98-odd campuses is being put in place, first using temporary arrangements to ensure new levels of broadband are available sooner. A backbone network that takes broadband from the beach to the universities’ campuses should be finished in six months’ time, and will hopefully be fully operational by the start of next year.

This will be good news for researchers and students involved in data-intensive research like oceanography, radio astronomy, and physicists, who were longing to access nuclear research taking place at CERN in Europe. The cable will give them the type of bandwidth they need to access high-performance computing facilities.

Information for this post was found on University World News Africa Edition. To read more go to the full article by Bill Corcoran in University World News Africa Edition by Clicking Here!

NEPAD is planning a project to link schools to the Internet

NEPAD (New Partnership for Africa’s Development), an African Union programme focusing on reducing poverty, is planning a project to link schools to the Internet.

A pilot of this e-schools-initiative was recently completed in  16 African countries.

To read more go to the article on VOANews by Clicking Here!

Faster Internet for South African Universities

SANREN goes live! SANREN’s new 10 gigabytes-per-second service went live in Johannesburg on 31 March, connecting the main University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) campus and three University of Johannesburg campuses to an optical fibre ring that starts and ends at a location called the Reefhead Gateway. SANREN, the South African National Research Network system will expand university bandwidth 35-fold and vastly increase the speed and capacity of internet connections. SANREN will help to close the digital divide between this part of Africa and developed countries, and advance the capacity for research and collaboration with scholars locally and internationally. In the next couple of years it is envisaged that all South African universities will be connected to SANReN’s network. To read more click here!