Poverty and AIDS plague South Africa - but a bold move by chip manufacturer Intel and its World Ahead Initiative is underway to help the next generation of Africans out of poverty and into the digital world, reports AllAfrica.com
The $1 billion dollar plan is to train and educate 400,000 teachers how to use technology in order to improve the standard of education in South Africa. The initiative boasts a donation of 5000 PCs with Microsoft software and Internet access from MTN to 1200 schools by the year 2010. So far, nearly 43,000 have completed Intel's teacher training program since 2003.
Intel chairman Craig Barrett recently opened a computer lab at Maope school, where children use donated software and have access to high-speed Internet.
"It's our duty as adults to make sure every child has equal opportunities," said Barrett, who chairs the United Nations' global alliance for information and communication technologies.
"They have to have access to computers and those computers have to be connected to the Internet because the Internet is where the world's information database resides. This is the first time in history where one person at a desk with a computer can have access to all the information in the world."
The computer lab at Maope School is different from other charity-sponsored projects because of the emphasis on teacher training. "Educating teachers is perhaps the most important thing we can do to educate our young people, " said Barrett.
Maope School is a very poor school and many of the students are AIDS orphans. Teacher Ntshangase said it was not enough to provide three free meals a day to her AIDS orphans.
"It will be an empty program if it's just food and nothing intellectually challenging for the children. We started teaching them computer literacy because in this area there are no computer schools or training of any sort. Children end up in the street, but if we can give them a start in the right direction they could be employed as a receptionist or a clerk," said Ntshangase.