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26.07.2005 General News

NEPAD explains advantages of e-schools

GNA

Ho, July 26, GNA - Dr. Henry Chasia, Executive Deputy Chairman of the NEPAD e-Africa Commission on Monday said Africa should count the immeasurable benefits to accrue to the continent from the NEPAD e-schools demonstration project than the financial costs involved. "We would not be able to implement the project if we pre-occupied ourselves with the financial costs", he said.

Dr. Chasia was answering questions at a Press Conference as part of the national launch of the e-schools demonstration project at OLA Secondary School in Ho in the Volta region.

Other schools participation in the one-year project are, Wa Secondary School, Upper- West, Walewale Secondary Technical, Northern Region, Saint Augustine Secondary, Western Region, Acherensua Secondary, Brong-Ahafo and Akomadan Secondary Ashanti Region. "In all 16 countries are now participating in the NEPAD e-Schools demonstration project which encompasses 96 schools, six in each country", he said.

Dr Chasia said the novelty about the e-schools project was that the business community within and outside the continent seized the initiative following its public launch at the Africa Summit of the World Economic Forum in Durban South Africa.

"The private sector in the information and communication technology industry has risen to the occasion. Today the active participation of business in the development of the NEPAD e-Schools initiative is quite remarkable", he said.

Dr. Chasia said the demonstration projects, which are being implemented by a number of consortia are part of a ten year programme to extend it to a lot more schools and "ultimately across the entire African continent". As to how this was going to be sustained, Dr Chasia said at the end of the one-year demonstration phase the work of the consortia "will be tested by a monitoring and evaluation effort, which has been designed and will be implemented by the Commonwealth of Learning and the World Bank Infordev. Unit.

"We realize that NEPAD e-Schools will be a costly undertaking. "In a project entailing such huge investments in high technology, it is possible to realize vast savings in the use of resources, if we as a continent, are doing it together", Dr Chasia said. He said a continental NEPAD e-Schools Co-ordinating Body comprising two nominees from each one of the countries in the first phase has therefore, been established.

As to the economic benefits that would accrue from the project, Dr Chasia said apart from the education, health and skills content of NEPAD e-Schools, the project "has the potential for a huge market in educational goods and services, including those related specifically to information and communication technology".

He said, "together with governments and with the corporate partners, we in NEPAD are looking ahead to the creation of a market for goods and services which, in the absence of this collaboration would either not have emerged at all, or otherwise would have taken much longer to do so."

On his part, Mr. Desi Lopez Fafie, Managing Director of Oracle African Operation which is leading a consortium of companies to undertake the project at OLA was optimistic that in about 20 years time the e-Schools project would yield great dividend to the business sector on the continent.

He said what is of more immediate importance was to secure the success of the initiative through the co-operation between governments and the private sector" in view of its potential to catapult Africa onto the stage of developed countries. Mr Lopez said the project's successful implementation would make Ghana a model for other countries to emulate.

Facilities at the e-Schools are computers and internet connectivity, digital content, learning management systems, e-communication infrastructure to allow students to communicate with participating schools on the continent, training of teachers and technical support to the schools. Companies making up the consortium are Mercer, Sentech and Astra, Multichoice Africa, Xerox, CompuTrainer, Learnthings, DHL, Fujitsu-Siemens Computers, Intel, Accelon and Cambridge-Hatachi. 26. 07. 05.

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