Orange Botswana kickstarted the roll-out of their Digital Schools Project at Sedibe Primary School in Damochojenaa village this past Thursday.
This follows the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in July between the mobile giants and Ministries of Basic Education (MoBE) and Local Government and Rural Development to work together to introduce a digital education programme to primary schools.
During the signing of the MoU, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Basic Education, Dr Collie Monkge said Information Communication Technology (ICT) is very important in the delivery of education and that his Ministry planned to improve ICT infrastructure in schools by computerising and connecting them to internet.
The PS further said there was a need to equip teachers with ICT integration skills to enable them to mix teaching and technology.
He revealed the ministry aimed to have electronic educational content in the form of e-books, interactive electronic assessment materials and educational videos for every student.
Monkge said they were worried that schools in rural areas were performing badly as compared to those in urban areas, surmising that poor access to information may be the leading reason they fail to cross the 60% pass mark.
Speaking at the historical event, Orange Botswana CEO, Dr Patrick Benon said their vision, passion and ambition for digital education resonates with that of the Government.
Benon said the Education and Training Sector Strategic Plan (ETSSP), 2015-2020, underpinned by the Thuto-net programme is committed to integrating ICTs into the education sector.
The Orange Botswana CEO further said his company believes it is important to provide all children with access to education and providing them with materials and equipment to make their learning easier.
“In recent years, the education sector has been experiencing challenges which include lack of resources and textbooks. This impacts the quality of education and the level of students’ performance,” he noted.
Benon said the Orange Foundation saw it fit to partner with the Government to address these challenges through digital education, which he explained is essentially availing educational material in an electronic format.
He pointed out that this makes it easier to re-distribute and re-use learning materials, thereby increasing education access to a larger number of learners in a cost effective manner.
“Today Sedibe becomes the first school to benefit from this programme. We have also trained all teachers to prepare them for this important project,” Benon told Damochojenaa residents.
He said the roll-out was a timely one as today the 21st century student must be availed with all the resources needed for learning at all times and wherever they are.
The digital kit donated to Sedibe Primary School comprised of 50 tablets, two Raspberry Pi servers pre-loaded with content, which can be accessed via a Wi-Fi connection.
The school also received 11 multi-socket adaptors, two dust resistant cases with padlocks, one projector and one screen.
Sedibe Primary School is the first of five schools set to benefit from the initial Phase of this project. Other schools lined up to include: Ntlhantle Primary School, Dikgonnye Primary School, Mmanoko Primary School and Moshopha Primary School.
A total of 30 schools will eventually be added to the programme, with an average 500 students per school expected to have benefited at the end of the roll-out of the program.