South Africa’s Minister of Communications Yunus Carrim has emphasised the importance of a national broadband policy, specifically pointing to its role in providing essential services to the people, and committed to the rollout of a policy for the country by end November 2013.
Minister Carrim, along with ICT industry leaders, academics and decision makers, convened today in Stellenbosch, Western Cape, at SATNAC 2013 to discuss the role that broadband can- and will play in developing economies and digital inclusion across the continent.“We are in the very early stages of a journey towards broadband access and we need to work together,” he said.
In his opening address Professor Brian O’Connell, Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the University of the Western Cape, opened proceedings and described the event as “one of the most important to take place this year in South Africa”.
In introducing the dilemmas of connectivity and education in Africa, Professor O’Connell emphasised the critical importance of establishing ‘ways of knowing’, of contact and how digital helps to ensure that knowledge is connected to the economy.
“Almost 60% of scientific research in Africa is done in south Africa ..,” Professor O’Connell said.
South Africa’s future is dependent on how quickly the nation is able to move to higher levels of competence on the basis of knowledge.
However, there are certain challenges, particularly if one considers that one research report by the World Economic Forum (WEF) ranks South Africa in 141st position out of 144.
In his presentation Professor O’Connell emphasised how the scenario should be transformed, that the school should not just be a tool for youth, but is a resource for the entire community it services, that a new breed of teacher should be trained and recruited to serve as curators of ideas and enablers of creativity and innovation.
“South Africa is in desperate danger… but there is nothing wrong with our youngster’s brains. We cannot transcend the past without access to the Net and broadband,” said Professor O’Connell.
The educational lanscape has changed and according to speaker and scenario planner, Clem Sunter, it is amazing how education institutions have failed to recognise the need to prepare learners for a completely different workplace, to prepare them adequately for a vastly different market. “Kids come out of scholls unprepared for the world that actually exists,” said Sunter.
* Image via Axel Bührmann
Chris Tredger – Online Editor