May 15, 2005

ARTICLES: "Namibia Urged to 'Listen Up' to IT"

Namibia Urged to 'Listen Up' to IT
> ITWeb (Johannesburg)
> May 9, 2005
> Posted to the web May 9, 2005
> Warwick Ashford
> Johannesburg
> SchoolNet Namibia, a non-profit provider of Internet service, hardware and
> training to schools in Namibia, has launched a comic strip to demystify
> computers and attract teachers and students to the digital world.
> It has teamed up with Strika Entertainment, The Namibian Newspaper and
> Johannesburg-based Direq International to produce and distribute the "Hai Ti!"
> comic strip, which is aimed at bringing teachers into the computer lab.

> "Hai Ti!", which means "listen up!" in the Oshiwambo language group, is being
> distributed through inclusion in the Namibian Youth Paper, but is also
> available online.
> "'Hai Ti!' is a character-based drama around the SchoolNet team and teachers at
> a remote rural school in Namibia," says Joris Komen, SchoolNet Namibia
> executive director.
> "It's aimed particularly at teachers and principles educators, who in the main,
> are still resistant to information and communications technologies," he
> explains.
> Komen says one of the aims of "Hai Ti!" is to address misunderstanding and allay
> fears among educators about the compatibility of open source software such as
> Open Office with similar proprietary systems commonly used in the private
> sector.
> "In an educational context, the skills acquired by teachers and learners to cut,
> copy and paste, and use office administration tools such as word processors,
> spreadsheets and multimedia applications, as well as the Internet, must be
> completely platform-neutral, without affecting their existing or future
> careers," says Komen.
> "This medium has the inherent advantages of being entertaining and easy to
> understand," says Denis Brandjes, MD of Direq International, which provides
> SchoolNet with OpenLab, the open source operating system that runs in school
> labs and home computers throughout Africa, particularly in Namibia, Nigeria,
> Zimbabwe and SA.
> "Strika Communications was chosen for the project because of their success in
> using comics as a communication medium. Their flagship product, Supa Strikas,
> is one of Africa's biggest publications with over a million copies distributed
> each month in seven countries," adds Brandjes.
> The first edition of "Hai Ti!" interweaves the stories of a learner who uses the
> Internet to prepare for a debate; of a football fan who learns the Internet can
> be a better source for sports news than the local shebeen; and of a young
> teacher who comes to grips with computer basics with the help of SchoolNet
> trainers.
> Komen says it is hoped the new approach will assist SchoolNet to guide educators
> and the community through the stages of computer ownership, ICT adoption and
> ICT integration with the national curriculum.
> "We want to encourage educators, learners and communities to embrace these
> technologies in their lives. We need to encourage personal control, comfort in
> the use of technology and build respect for the intelligence and ability of
> educators to use them," says Komen.

Chris Schuepp
Young People's Media Network - Coordinator
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