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Wikimania 2007 Taipei :: a Globe in Accord

This page is part of the Proceedings of Wikimania 2007 (Index of presentations)

Are FLOSS, Open Content and Open Access solutions practicable and scaleable in remote, underserved African schools?

Author Joris Komen
Track Technical Infrastructure
License GNU Free Documentation License (details)
About the author
Joris Komen

Joris Komen says he was lured into the information and communication technologies by the computerisation of museum collections, while the curator of birds at the National Museum of Namibia. He has spent considerable time and energy promoting the relevance of the Internet and other technologies to African museums and schools within and around Nambia. He is a champion of incentive-reward mechanisms to provide ICTs to schools in Namibia by way of a biodiversity-oriented school competition called Insect@thon.

Komen played a critical role in launching and driving SchoolNet Namibia, a civil society organisation which is committed to providing sustainable internet access, free/libre and open source software, and open educational content to all schools in Namibia. He is presently SchoolNet Namibia’s executive director. The organization has proved to be a model for the sustainable introduction of ICTs across the education sector, and has been recognised by the Namibian government's National Development Plans as a key actor.

Born in the Congo, Komen was raised and variously educated in Burundi, Holland, Nigeria and South Africa. SchoolNet Nambia, Insect@thon, Official blog

In September 2006, Namibia's Ministry of Education launched a national ICT Policy Implementation Plan (www.tech.na) designed to take direct ownership of the deployment, support and training needs of ICTs at schools throughout Namibia. Initially targeting only 40 secondary schools in the 2006 (now 2007) financial year, the Ministry has thus far (July 2007!) failed to effect any substantive process (www.netss.org.na) to meet this very conservative target. Various bureaucratic and political reasons are cited as causative. With the Government's cumbersome financial processes and technocratic power struggles, prognosis for subsequent rapid evolution of an effective government-driven ICT implementation plan is not rosy. The rapid deployments of FLOSS and OC solutions undertaken in Extremadura and Andalucia in Spain by local government (100,000+ PCs in more than 1000 schools) are awesome, exemplary models of practicable and scaleable ICT implementations at schools! In France several server-side FLOSS distributions for school have been developed and supported by governmental agencies; more than 10,000 schools in France use FLOSS servers in local area networks. Several other countries are adopting the FLOSS desktop on a massive scale. Indeed, even South Africa now has a public sector FLOSS and OC policy. By examining the evolution of these projects, it becomes clear that African Governments should also be able to scale up their ICT implementation and especially their communication access efforts at schools if they revise their thinking (and policy) on FLOSS, Open Content and Open Access, and trust the use of local expertise found in local SMMEs and NGOs such as SchoolNet in Namibia.
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