The Case of SchoolNet Namibia/SchoolNet/Role

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The Role of SchoolNet Namibia

SchoolNet Namibia became the honest broker[1] and national coordinator for affordable ICT in the schools of Namibia. Its role included the following:

  • Ensure that the schools get the best affordable solutions available to meet their needs.
  • Reduce costs by
    • sourcing hardware (through appropriate channels) including refurbished computers, and
    • providing a free software thin client solution (i.e. no software license costs and reduced risk of hardware failure).
  • Source software and learning resources for school use such as
    • free software utilities to manage class activities in the labs
    • educational software
    • learning resources.
  • Facilitate local hands-on ICT deployment (hardware and basic connectivity) to all schools in Namibia.
  • Provide a sustainable low-cost technology solution for Internet access.
  • Improvise with innovative solutions where necessary to overcome challenges such as lack of infrastructure and power.
  • Facilitate local support for the schools (on behalf of the donors where applicable) by training volunteers to
    • install and maintain the systems, and
    • train school staff as users.
  • Experience-based policy-directed advocacy at national and international levels of free software in schools and a sustainable model for ICT-enablement, featuring local support and training, appropriate for developing world conditions.

SchoolNet Namibia found creative ways of ensuring the sustainability of school networking activities, and developed mechanisms to encourage collaboration and sharing among schools.

With such a platform in place, schools had access to a broad base of knowledge locally hosted on their servers and (bandwidth permitting) to the universe of resources available on the internet.

The keys to success included partnerships and a local community based approach. The latter ensured success on the ground. The partnerships increased the resources base and synergies enabled greater impact though shared learning, mutual support, and recognition.

SchoolNet Namibia also played a critical role in increasing awareness and understanding (at all levels) of ICTs in education, and specifically the role of free software and the opportunities associated with open education for social inclusion and self-determination. This type of experience-based advocacy served as a platform for influencing national policy (below).

  1. Since SchoolNet Namibia did not have commercial interests in any particular technology or products.