07.07.2015 - UNESCO Windhoek Office

ICT takes Education for Sustainable Development to Rural Youth in Namibia

participants of the Mobile Learning Project – Education for Sustainable Development and micro-gardening for Out-of-School Youth

UNESCO and partners launch the Mobile Learning Project in Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) and Micro-Gardening for Out-of-School Youth on 19 June 2015 at Sakeus Iihuhwa Primary School in Namibia's Omusati Region.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), in collaboration with the Ministry of Sport, Youth and National Service; the Regional Council - Directorate of Education in the Omusati region; and Technology Academy Trust launched the Mobile Learning Project in Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) and Micro-Gardening for Out-of-School Youth on 19 June 19 2015 at Sakeus Iihuhwa Primary School in the Omusati Region.

 This project is part of the broader effort to enhance skills development for out-of-school youth and to foster quality education through the use of Information and communications technology (ICT). The main focus of the project is to facilitate and enhance teaching, learning and training in rural areas; especially in disadvantaged communities. The project was initiated in line with UNESCO’s Global Action Programme (GAP) on ESD, priority action area 4; Empowering and mobilizing youth.

 The 10-week mLearning project aims to provide skills development to out-of-school youth in order to empower them with skills in ESD and agricultural techniques such as Micro-gardening and mushroom production.

 A total of 20 out-of-school youth will participate in two courses, one on ESD and another one on Micro-gardening (Horticulture) that will enhance their capacities to contribute to sustainable development and food security in their communities and the nation at large.

 Laptops are being used as servers that are located at Sakeus Iihuhwa Primary School and participants will access ESD materials using low-cost tablets that were distributed to the 20 participants and three supervisors.  The tablets access the server through a hot-spot system that sends and receives signals around the school. The tablets are connected to the network through WIFI technology and proper configuration of the devices was established to permit connection between the server and the tablet. The use of laptops as servers and tablets as clients on the network has proved to be efficient as they minimize power consumption.

 The server runs a Unix-like operating system, very stable and resistant to viruses. This model has been designed to accommodate disadvantaged communities where electricity connected to national grid is not readily available and where there is no Internet connectivity. The server, the hot-spot system and the tablets are powered by solar energy and the hotspot system allows connection between the server and the devices; in this condition, Internet is not required.

Quality education is a matter of serious concern in Sub-Saharan Africa and Namibia in particular.  This project serves as a model that will be used across Namibia in order to reach marginalised communities that have limited or no access to internet and electricity with quality learning materials through cutting edge technologies.

The Project Systems Developer, Mr. Maurice Nkusi said literature shows that Sub-Saharan Africa is home to 43% of the world’s Out-of-School Youth, a figure that is too large when one looks at the population size in Sub-Saharan Africa as a percentage of the world population. He further stated that the project was initiated to support out-of school youth by allowing them access to quality learning materials that will contribute to skills development and sustainable living.

Mr. Nkusi also made reference to the 2015 Education for All Global Monitoring Report (EFA GMR) which revealed that all EFA goals will not be achieved in Sub-Saharan Africa at the end of this year because the majority of learners are left behind. “Most countries in Sub-Saharan Africa did well in the area of universal enrollment but it was observed that in many instances, learners are not learning while attending school and there is a serious issue of quality education” said Mr. Nkusi. The 2013/2014 GMR- Teaching and learning: Achieving Education for All says quality education in Sub-Saharan Africa will be effective in 72 years (three generations) if current practices prevail.

In addition to the out-of-school youth, the project will also benefit learners at the school who will have access to quality reading materials packaged into a digital library to enhance literacy and numeracy. Mathematics and English materials are added on the server for enrichment purposes.

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