WHILE GOVERNMENT has initiated a number of programmes aimed at helping entrepreneurs and innovators, these have been typically focused on the broader commercial sector. However, the African Schools Technology & Innovation Centre that opened in Johannesburg last week is looking to bring the same spirit of innovation to the education market that other initiatives have prompted in other technology fields.
Microsoft chairman for Africa Cheick Diarra says the centre is the first in Africa and one of five worldwide, joining those in Belfast, Brussels, Prague and Oman. “The centre aims to provide a facility where researchers would be able to tap into resources and network with experts, not only locally but at the other centres.”
The centre is a joint venture between Microsoft, a variety of other partners and SA’s Ministry of Education.
Says Diarra: “We expect one of the key areas of research to be in finding interesting ways of solving the problem of providing access to technology in Africa’s schools. Until that problem is solved, it will be difficult to leverage technology to deliver educational resources.”
The centre has facilities for 20 researchers. The resources available will depend on the nature of the research being conducted, which will link up with the Nepad eschools programme to provide the ideal test-bed to use technology to deliver better education.
While it’s the first centre in Africa, Diarra is confident that demand from other parts of the continent will provide the impetus for satellite installations in West and East Africa.