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ZICTA Embarks On ICT Skills Project in Provincial Schools
Source: Times of Zambia
Source Date: Friday, November 18, 2011
Focus: Electronic and Mobile Government
Country: Zambia
Created: Nov 21, 2011

THERE are no two ways about it that Information Communication and Technology is the need of the day. The technological advancements have made society take a leap towards success. Every technological reform is a small step towards advancement. Every invention in technology is a step towards the progress of mankind. Centuries ago, hardly anyone would have even dreamt of working on a computer. Generations of the past would have hardly imagined being able to communicate with people on the other side of the globe. But there were some intelligent minds who dared to dream of such revolutionary discoveries and they made the 'impossibles' possible. Ours as well as our future generations are lucky to be able to witness the technological reforms. We are fortunate enough to lead a life of luxury and comfort. Since ours are the times of technology, why not let the technological reform spread far and wide? Why not make the masses aware of the new technology? Why not equip the entire society with the knowledge of the new inventions in technology? The need to introduce technology at an early age in life, illustrates the importance of technology in schools. No wonder the Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA) has taken up an initiative to equip the young generation by introducing ICT skills at high schools. Technology in schools is vital as it is bound to rule our present and future, it is good be obtain a knowhow of the technological reforms at the earliest age more so that children learn faster and can adapt to changes relatively easily. If they are trained during their school years, they have high chances of becoming experts in technology. An early beginning is always beneficial in the long run. When we know that technology is bound to be a part of their future, it is best to introduce them to it during school life and it is this objective that ZICTA seeks to achieve through its K100 million pilot project in Lusaka, Southern and Copper-belt provinces of the 10 in Zambia. Instead of seeing them, struggle with learning later in life, it is advisable to give them a basic idea of the technological reforms. Studies have shown that children conversant with technology show improvements in their writing, reading and mathematics skills. Technology has also contributed to the decrease in dropout rates, improvement in student attendance and enhancement in their learning abilities. Technology in school benefits the children during their higher education. It lays a strong foundation of a successful professional life of an individual. Computers can offer livelier explanations of various subjects. The Internet is an ocean of information, which can be harnessed for the rendition of information in school. The inclusion of technology in the process of learning makes learning an enjoyable activity, thus inviting greater interest from the kids. The knowledge from all around the world can be better brought about for the children and can be assimilated by them. The introduction of ICT clubs in schools can thus result in a decreased use of paper and in bringing most of the school office work in an e-format. ZICTA last Friday officially launched the establishment of ICT clubs in High schools across the country. The establishment of these clubs in schools symbolizes the Authority's commitment to promoting access to ICTs for every Zambian regardless of age or ability. At the launch, ZICTA director general Margret Chalwe- Mudenda, noted the authority's obligation to ensuring that every Zambian has access to ICTs and has information on these technologies that would help them make informed decisions. The authority intends to use the clubs among other platforms to sensitize youths about the benefits and adverse effects of using ICTs. Pupils in the targeted schools under the pilot project would be equipped with various basic computer skills including access to the Internet in preparation for entry into the labor market. ZICTA intends to set up clubs in Lusaka-based schools, those in Southern Province and on the Copperbelt. In Lusaka the institutions include; Munali High School, Kabulonga Girls, Mary Queen of Peace and David Kaunda Technical School while on the Copper-belt Chifubu Secondary, Kansenshi, and Ndola Girls would benefit. In Southern Province, the project would be undertaken at Hillcrest Technical, St. Mary's and Linda Secondary Schools. With pupil participation, the clubs are expected to promote capacity building in ICT skills and provide information to the youths on the benefits and dangers of ICTs as well as educate them on their rights and interests as consumers of ICTs. The clubs would also encourage communication among the youths through social networks for educational purposes such internet. Ms Mudenda cautioned pupils to initiate programmes that would grow and sustain these clubs. "The sustainability of these clubs is not only dependant on ZICTA but on you as well as your commitment and passion for not only your ambitions but for that cause of seeing a better Zambia", she said. ZICTA is mandated under the ICT Act amongst others is "To promote the interests of consumers, purchasers and other users of Information and electronic communications services, including in particular, persons with disabilities and the aged in respect of accessibility, quality and variety of services and equipment" In fulfilling the outlined mandate Ms Mudenda said the authority had to initiate the ICT pilot projects in schools. "ZICTA would like to see after the establishment of these clubs, is a better and well informed youth community in Information Technologies. We shall be extending the setting up of ICT clubs to more schools in the nearest future," Ms Mudenda said. She said one of the strategies ZICTA identified to sensitize the youthful consumer, was the establishment of ICT clubs. It is therefore cardinal that the Ministry of Education partners with ZITCA as per the call by Ms Mudenda in the authority's quest to motivating youths to incline themselves with ICT literacy. "Imagination is greater than Knowledge". ZICTA imagines a situation where a sixteen year old Zambian boy or girl can create computer software in Kaputa. Relevant Links Southern Africa Zambia ICT "We imagine a twelve year old Zambian child being able to dismantle and reassemble a computer in Kalomo. In other words we believe in our pupils and are expecting them to contribute to the development of ICT's in our country," she said. It is therefore worth noting that technology not only benefits the school students but also eases the office work. It makes possible, a more effective way of storage and distribution of information. The realization of the importance of technology in schools and its successful implementation is a necessity and efforts being undertaken by ZICTA in this regard should be hailed by every Zambian. This effort entails bridging the seemingly log distance between the present and the future.
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