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Equipping 21st century learner

31 Mar 2023

The adage, 'a man is caught by his words,' has never been more relevant than in the context of closing the digitalization gap between Botswana and the rest of the world.

During his inauguration speech in November 2019, President Dr Mokgweetsi Eric Masisi promised to embrace the global digital revolution to transform people and the economy.

Since then, through the government, he joined the bandwagon in order to live up to his promise of facilitating digital transformation.

One of the massive successful projects to embrace digitalization at the grassroots level was through distribution of ICT gadgets that included laptops and tablets, and also to connect the Internet at all local public schools.

The project hinged on the implementation of the Education and Training Sector Strategic Plan (ETSSP) under the Outcome-Based Education program from the Ministry of Education and Skills Development.

Its objective is to encourage learner-centric strategies that will intensify the use of ICT gadgets in teaching and learning purposes. 

The acting Director of the Department of Information Communication Technology (ICT) from the Ministry of Education, Mr Taolo Tsimanyana said the development was intended to encourage and be in consistent with the National Transformation Plan for Digitalization.

A total of 758 local schools that include primary, junior secondary, and senior secondary will all benefit from the initiative.

“The distribution process was rolled out in three phases. The first targeted all 34 senior secondary schools and was a success story; all current form fives received fully operational gadgets that have become the primary tool of all subjects,” said Mr Tsimanyana. 

In addition, all junior secondary schools and current Form Fours are in phase 2 and will receive their devices in the next fiscal year, while primary schools will be served in the final phase.

Mr Tsimanyana says the government considered connecting solar panels to generate electricity to power the gadgets in order to alleviate the challenges of electricity shortages in some schools.

“Students and teachers were given laptops on loan and are expected to return them in good condition when they leave the school. Since these laptops serve as notebooks, students are permitted to take them home after school to continue with group projects and other assignments,” he said.

Although Mr Tsimanyana could not disclose the total money used for the project since its inception because some of the schools are yet to benefit, he, however, noted that it was a worthy project that local entrepreneurs benefited from. 

Government is at an advanced stage to connect more than 504 villages with fast and reliable Internet through the SmartBots Village Connectivity Project.

In an interview, the deputy permanent secretary-Information Communication Technology (ICT) at the Ministry of Transport and Communications Mr Cecil Masiga indicated that the decision was conceptualized as part of the SmartBots infrastructure for all with the aim to accelerate digital connectivity across the country, and the project followed a phase approach.

“The decision is to enable citizens to access services digitally in order to be globally competitive. Hotspots and WI-FI in public places will act as incentives for young people to put forward their ideas and possibly scout for fruitful opportunities,” he said.

Mr Masiga said Phase 1 focused on internet connectivity in 1 138 government facilities in 142 villages and was expected to be delivered last year in February, however some of the challenges that cropped up led to 10 months delay.

He said the other two phases were scheduled to commence in the next fiscal year and will focus on connecting the remaining villages and 1 077 government facilities that included hospitals, clinics, and health posts among others. Ends

Source : BOPA

Author : Chendzimu Manyepedza

Location : Gaborone

Event : Interview

Date : 31 Mar 2023