Korea seeking support for solar-powered tech labs for school internet

By Kennedy Abwao

Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire (PANA) – Korean ministry of education researchers have proposed a new public-private partnership with African countries to enhance affordable internet connection in schools, using solar-powered technology which provides ready-made internet connection for use in remote areas.

Min Kim, Senior Researcher at the Korean Education Research Information Service (KERIS), said in Abidjan on Thursday that a new and affordable computer technology laboratory had been improvised in Korea. It includes an air-conditioned container fitted in 24 computers using 3-G internet connection.

Speaking at the second ministerial forum on integration of Information Technology in education and training in Africa, underway in Abidjan, Min, who is responsible for Policy Research and Global Cooperation, said the technology was being provided by Korean firm, Samsung for US $70,000.

“We want to consolidate this project and we are here to engage with partners and ministries of education to implement this project on a public-private partnership model,” Min told the ministers meeting on how to empower marginalized communities using ICT innovations.

“We thought Africa lacks sustainable models to access internet in schools. The text books are not sufficient to carry out these learning projects in schools. Our collaborative project includes the use of these remodeled containers and computers made to capture 3-G internet. They are fitted with hard-discs on the servers to access internet. The teachers can also use this internet to study,” Min said.

The Korean technology will rely on teachers for its maintenance during its period of use. Min said the teachers implementing the project were taken to Korea for training on the equipment use for classroom work and maintenance.

Min said three countries, Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda had been engaged on the project and the Korean government was reaching out to more countries to adopt the technology for their educational needs.

Kenya, Rwanda and Cote d’Ivoire are at various stages of implementing major projects on the rollout of technology to young learners as a means of boosting future growth and ICT innovation.

John Temba, the Director of ICT at the Kenyan Ministry of Education, said the Kenyan –One-to-One Solution, aiming to provide 1.2 million devices to first time learners in school, would require solar-powered devices for use in some 600 schools out of the 22,000 schools to be connected.

Rwanda has provided 216,000 laptops for its one laptop per child programme and countries like Cote d’Ivoire are at various stages of implementing such plans for schools and major national ICT infrastructure project rollout are also underway, according to senior Ivorian state officials.

Cote d’Ivoire is implementing its ICT revolution project under One-Citizen, One Computer, One Internet connection, through which the government offers tax-free access to users.

To finance these projects, Ivorian officials say a telecommunication levy applies to channel funds to the implementation of the projects.

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