In­no­va­tive ed­u­ca­tion

Finweek English Edition - - Communication & technology - BENE­DICT KELLY

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.

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