Sahara?s long term plan to digitize schools


Sahara Computers has increased its ongoing contribution to the South African education sector with confirmation of a long-term, multi-phase project to fully digitize schools in Gauteng.

The established supplier of information, communication and digital lifestyle technology has committed resources and expertise to a comprehensive initiative that is based on the delivery of IT infrastructure, mobile solutions and upgrade of networking systems at schools.

The intention is to partner with institutions and offer them a cost-effective channel through which to enhance their capacity to educate learners using the latest PC hardware, software and digital equipment says Gary Naidoo, deputy MD at Sahara.

"Earlier this year the minister of education voiced government?s desire to see all teachers equipped with mobile technology to use in classrooms throughout South Africa. The common objective is to make learners and institutions "technologically-ready? to manage changes in teaching styles and approaches in the foreseeable future,' says Naidoo. "Sahara is leading by example as far as corporate investment and contribution to this process is concerned.'

One of these trends is the integration and use of specialized white boards that are networked to a notebook or mobile solution managed by a teacher. The pre-loaded software and anticipated applications and programs will make it feasible for a teacher to run various lessons simultaneously and allow important information to be downloaded and stored automatically and securely as reference material.

The company anticipates that by 2015 many schools will have converted to a virtual environment in which lessons are conducted through notebooks and electronic transmission from devices like electronic white boards through to personal storage devices and PCs.

However Sahara acknowledges that cost is often a stumbling block for schools who would like the benefit of IT and digital equipment. It is for this reason that the company has structured a product delivery model, defined by a managed financial scheme, as the cornerstone of its project.

Sahara has already established a partnership with Jeppe High School for Boys and, in conjunction with the school?s governing body and members of staff, supplied 45 notebooks as part of a long-term investment plan organized by the school and driven by teaching staff.

Gary Naidoo, together with Chad Spence, Brand Manager at Sahara, recently met with Anton Dempsey, headmaster and Gavin Esterhuizen, deputy headmaster, at the school to hand over the mobile solutions.

"We are very pleased to continue our proud tradition of continuous support for education in South Africa and the role that technology can and will play,' said Naidoo. "These mobile solutions will be used extensively by teaching staff and we are confident will prove to be a valuable asset in the classroom.'

Esterhuizen reiterates the value of this partnership: "From a teachers point of view we can use the analogy that they are expected to teach in a 21st century environment - but often with 20th or 19th century tools. This initiative is designed to close the digital gap between learners and teachers. We would like to emphasize that whilst the school facilitated this opportunity, in conjunction with Sahara Computers, it was the teachers themselves who agreed to finance the purchase of these notebooks, based on the rates and service offered by Sahara. It demonstrates their willingness to invest in their ability to improve the level of tuition and add value to learners through technology by fully embracing the opportunity.'

"We are very pleased to have a partnership with Sahara, an established IT company with a long and proud tradition of support for- and contribution to South African education,' he adds.

Sahara has also confirmed that three other schools in Gauteng have expressed interest in participating in the initiative since it was first introduced a week ago.