WINDHOEK - Close to 70 percent of government schools are still not connected to the internet, parliament heard on Tuesday.
Of the 1 897 government schools across the country, only 590 schools are connected to the internet, Deputy Minister of Education, Arts and Culture, Anna Nghipondoka told lawmakers.
Nghipondoka acknowledged the challenge this posed for the schools in question, and told members of parliament (MPs) that the ministry had raised the issue with Cabinet.
“For education purposes it’s urgently needed for ICT integration in education as teachers and learners rely on ICT for subject content. Our dream is to digitalise content through our publisher who owns copyright on our books for which we are quality and relevance assured,” she told MPs. Deputy Minister of Information and Communication Technology Engel Nawatiseb announced recently in parliament that government aims to achieve 95 percent broadband coverage by 2024.
Nawatiseb said this when tabling the Broadband Policy and its Implementation Action Plan in parliament.
He added that government also aims at 100 percent broadband connections and usage to all primary and secondary schools in the country to allow e-learning by 2024.
Similarly, he said government intentions are also to have 90 percent broadband connection and usage of 70 percent at health facilities in the country to allow e-health by 2024.
“Nations are digitalising their services to ease the way of service delivery to the citizens. This requires high-speed internet access,” he said.
Nawatiseb said the role of broadband services as an enabler of economic and social development in countries is widely recognised in various studies and in documents such as the report of the United Nations (UN) Broadband Commission.
According to him the fifth annual edition of the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) Report of 2018 indicates that affordable internet to low- and middle-income countries is where one gigabyte (GB) of mobile broadband data is priced at two percent or less of average monthly income.
“High-speed internet access, or broadband, is critical to economic opportunities, job creation, education, and civic engagement. But there are too many parts of this country where broadband is unavailable in both urban and rural areas,” he stressed.
He said the broadband ecosystem is deemed to stimulate interaction amongst role players to provide incentives for further innovation and investment in broadband.
Thus, he said, in 2014 the United Nations Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development in its annual report recommended that countries should aim at launching national broadband plans; monitor, review and update ICT regulations and utilise the Universal Access Services Funds (UASFs) to close the digital divide.
He said a meeting in 2015 of the SADC ministers responsible for information and communication technologies (ICTs) directed member states to develop their national broadband strategies and policies.
To this end, the deputy minister said, the government responded to the Broadband Commission’s recommendations and the SADC ministers’ directives by securing technical assistance from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) to develop the Broadband Policy and its Implementation Action Plan (IAP).
“The policy and its IAP have been developed through stakeholders’ consultative workshops and they are aligned to the structure of Public Policy Document as adopted by Cabinet,” he told lawmakers.