Schoolnet Annual General Meeting, March, 2004
It is my pleasure to briefly report on the progress of SchoolNet during the past year. A more detailed activity report will be submitted by the Director of SchoolNet, and the financial performance of the organization is dealt with on a separate agenda item.
At the outset I would like to register my thanks to those Board members who have actively participated in the regular meetings held during the past year and in particular to Mr. Buddy Nisbet who acted as secretary to the Board for most of the year. Unfortunately Mr. Nisbet is no longer able to assist us as secretary and in his absence we were ably supported by Mr. Vince O’Hara, our Board member from WorldTeach.
After the 2003 AGM the institutions elected to the Board changed some of their representatives, and I am pleased to report that these new members have contributed to the overall governance of the organization. After an initial settling down period it seems as if we have managed to deal with the matters on hand in a competent and professional manner. This is evident in the activities completed this past year and the successful review of Schoolnet completed in December 2003.
Over the past year I am pleased to note that the role of the Board has become a lot clearer, and attention is now focused on the important issues of governance, due diligence and compliance with the Trust Deed of SchoolNet. Where appropriate working committees have been established to assist the Director. These have mostly addressed technical issues and a remuneration committee reviewed the performance incentives for the past year.
Appropriate management systems have been put in place, and appear to be fully functional.
Although the Director will provide a more comprehensive report on the activities of SchoolNet, it is important to note a few highlights of the past year.
Firstly, the MBESC has established an ICT policy working group, and SchoolNet has been an active participant in this process. This much needed policy will act as an important guiding document for future SchoolNet activities, and shape much of our future relationship with the education sector.
Secondly, a number of outstanding issues with regard to some of our funding partners have been resolved and we are able to proceed this year with a much clearer mandate and set of targets for the year.
Thirdly, we have had the honour of being able to showcase SchoolNet and the SchoolNet model at a number of international exhibitions. The most noteworthy of these occasions being the Global e-Schools and Communities Initiative at the ICT4D platform, WSIS, Geneva.
Finally, a number of MoUs have either been completed, or are in the final stages of negotiation, between SchoolNet and various partners to formalize our working relationships.
Special mention must be made of the establishment of the XNet Trust. SchoolNet and TeleCom Namibia have been instrumental in setting up this Trust as a mechanism to provide connectivity to the education, health and development sectors at an affordable price. This will include wireless solutions and both institutions have invested in this new project. The XNet Trust will be launched in early April by His Excellency, the President of Namibia at a SchoolNet school demonstrating a school connected through the wireless network.
At the end of 2003 an evaluation report of SchoolNet was concluded by Mr. Peter Ballantyne. Although this report was undertaken to cover the SIDA funded aspects of our activities, it in actual fact represents a very good evaluation of the entire activities of SchoolNet. This report is available to this meeting, and reflects very fairly on the activities of SchoolNet. The challenges posed by the consultant reflect some of the concerns we have experienced ourselves, and have helped us return to the core functions of SchoolNet.
The AGM draws to a conclusion the activities of one year, but also sets the tone for the year to come. On behalf of the Board of Trustees I would like to convey our sincere thanks to the staff of SchoolNet, wherever they might be located, and a special thanks to the Director, Dr. Joris Komen for his inspiration in keeping this organization as dynamic as it is.
Len le Roux