WINDHOEK- The Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Joël Kaapanda, says although technology has become part and parcel “of our daily lives” much still needs to be done to address the deficiencies in education resources, textbooks, teachers, financing and skilled personnel in terms of training in the use of technology. Kaapanda was addressing the Institutional Technology Day of the Polytechnic of Namibia this week.
However, he said the role of the Namibian government in accelerating the integration of ICTs in education cannot be overemphasised, adding that there is a need for national policies to guide the development and implementation of ICTs in education, along with the allocation of the national budget on education and skills development in ICT integration.
“A long term strategy and institutional practice based on policy is needed to ensure that resources are efficiently used to effectively integrate technology in education,” he stressed.
He also revealed that a survey conducted during the recent 8th e-Learning Conference in Windhoek showed that out of 413 responses from different African countries, 85 percent make use of laptops and 71 percent use mobile phones, while only 67 percent make use of stand-alone computers to support learning in their organisational contexts.
Further, the survey showed that 60 percent of the respondents said they made use of social networking sites such as Facebook, Google Plus and Linkedin to support learning in their organisational contexts.
While 29 percent make use of Voice over IP (VoIP) such as Skype and 22 percent make use of blogs, mobile chats such as Whats App and mobile applications, and 23 percent said their biggest motivation for using learning technologies was to expand access to learning opportunities, 23 percent used it to improve the quality of learning and 18 percent used it to improve the quality of teaching.
“How are we going to cater for all the growing and demanding needs for learning opportunities? Distance education will continue to play an important part in allowing us to continue to educate the nation when our classrooms are full to capacity. However, we need to move beyond offering distance education in the traditional print format, to eLearning in order to capitalise on the multi-media and collaborative learning opportunities it provides to make the impact we need for development. eLearning will also allow us to offer education beyond our borders,” he emphasised. It is expected that there will be one billion mobile subscribers in Africa by 2015.
According to a recent research report compiled by Research ICT Africa, the usage of social networking applications such as Facebook through the mobile phone is higher than using it to read and write emails, indicating a substitution effect of the mail with social networking platforms. Namibia, Botswana, Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Uganda are the most countries analysed as having such usage of social networking applications.
Kaapanda explained that as 2015 approaches, discussions have started about setting the post-2015 agenda for development, saying education and ICT are becoming some of the top priorities because of the key role they play in the development of a country.
Namibia has set itself goals in the National Development Plan 4 (NDP4) to become the most competitive economy in the SADC region by 2017.
By Albertina Nakale