10 April 2007
Rural schools in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal will soon enjoy the benefits of well-equipped computer centres, thanks to a sponsorship from British Telecom (BT) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef).
BT and Unicef are working together on a three-year development partnership to invest £1.5-million (approximately R21-million) to bring education, technology and communications skills to children from poor backgrounds in South Africa, Brazil and China.
Apart from the installation of 250 computers, the sponsorship will help renovate schools, build additional classrooms and provide state-of-the-art computer laboratories.
To make best use of the new facilities being provided, 150 head teachers and administrators will be trained in effective school management and leadership skills.
“Those of us who have grown up with technology often take it for granted,” said chief executive of BT global services Andy Green.
The two organisations hope the new facilities will provide students with practical, technological skills that will help them gain economic independence. According to a BT statement, the primary focus of the partnership will be to create a security and productive environment, especially for girls.
“They will be mentored, coached and trained in communication, technology and science and gain skills in areas, which they are not well represented,” the company said. “As mothers of the next generation, with families to sustain, they will be responsible for ensuring that their children receive an education.”
By teaming up with Unicef and supporting the South African government’s educational priorities, Green said, the company hoped to “help Unicef bring the benefits and opportunities of technology to children and young people in some of the country’s most remote and poorly resourced communities.”
Macharia Kamau, Unicef’s representative in South Africa, said the initiative would help the country reach one of its Millennium Development Goals, of ensuring that, by 2015, all of its children are able to complete a full course of primary schooling.