NEPAD e-School Project : An end-to-end Technology Solution

The NEPAD e-school project is no doubt a very noble idea. It aims to equip schools throughout Africa with an ‘end-to-end Technology solution’. But will this project live beyond the implementation period?

On 18th Oct 2006, I watched a show on SABC Africa, a channel that broadcasts in several African Countries, as Prof. Kinyanjui of the NEPAD e-school project talked passionately about this project that he is coordinating.

He displayed a big commitment to the project and he clearly has a vision for what the project will accomplish. What became apparent is that this project is depending heavily on governments in Africa and well wishers, such as ICT businesses for support.

Already, governments in Africa and organisations such as Oracle and Microsoft amongst others are partners of this grand project that is envisioned to have many schools throughout Africa equipped with what Prof. Kinyanjui called an ‘end-to-end Technology solution’.

The success for such a project will depend heavily on the govenments through the ministries of Education to take ownership of project by supporting the solution that e-school project is providing.

Many noble projects have been started in Africa, and most of them do not last long enough for their benefit to become evident. This mainly happens due to lack of commitment from Governments, or lack of communication of the vision behind such a project. If a school is lucky to be nominated as NEPAD e-school, alot of support will be required to ensure that the project continues as hoped. In other words, all stakeholders need to ‘buy in’ the project beginning with the school administration, the teachers, parents and the students.

If the teachers are not informed about the benefit of the project, they will see it as a burden to their already existing workload. If the school adminstration does not also see the benefit of the project, it will never see the light of day.

There are many institutions that use computers but the use is limited to word processing only. Nobody has informed them of the other applications of computers and ICTs in general.

It is imperative that the ‘end-to-end solution’ that NEPAD e-school project is promoting be properly communicated and marketed to all stakeholders. ICTs are not an end by themselves but a means to an end.

The other issue is sustainability of the project. For how long will the current partners be willing to support the project. ICTs require constant support. It will be very unfortunate if after a couple of years, the support and maintenance of the project is left to the school administration, as the schools cannot afford the extra cost.

The success of the NEPAD e-school project will rely heavily on alot more stakeholders. It definitely is a noble idea and will go along way to close the gap in the digital divide and to address the Millenium Development Goals in Africa.