First South African schools get connected to a new world of learning

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Two secondary schools have become the first in South Africa to join an electronic network of 24 African schools with access to world-class learning material.

Ipetleng Secondary School in Free State and Thozamisa Secondary School in Eastern Cape have been connected by the Oracle Consortium under the e-Schools initiative, supported by the New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad). The initiative is designed to upgrade all of Africa's secondary schools over the next 10 years by providing them with information and communications technology hardware, software and content, and by training teachers to use the new facilities.

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The consortium consists of 14 companies contributing various components of a hi-tech educational system to schools in remote areas that lack such facilities. Oracle, which heads the consortium, installs the equipment, trains the teachers and supplies technical support. Other members include Mustek and Fujitsu Siemens, which supply computers. Satellite connection and internet access is supplied by Sentech, and MultiChoice Africa installs DStv equipment. Schools from seven countries stand to benefit from the initiative. SA is the fourth country to go online under the programme after Ghana, Lesotho and Kenya. Mali, Gabon and Egypt will follow in the near future. The e-Schools initiative is still in its early stages, with Nepad establishing and monitoring six e-Schools in each of 16 countries.

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