Almost two years ago I had a small posting about ‘SchoolLink and the land of the workshops’: for the sake of the Namibian state of education – which many people say is going down every year despite the more money put in (Education receives with 23.6% (US$ 1,15 bn) the biggest share of this year’s budget) – I wish my pessimistic appreciation had been proven wrong and the project had been at least a partial success. But fairy-tales are scare here. The project had been a complete disaster in all the 4-O regions. Now the Ministry makes a second attempt to get things going together with Edupac, the South African supplier of the solution. Last week most of the Directors, numerous seniors education officers, IT staff members and the principals of the schools which are part of the initial roll-out had been in Windhoek for a SchoolLink Project ‘Workshop’. I rather refer to it as an information event: planing done at Head Office, execution in the Regions – as usual. Compared to the first roll out a fundamental (and hopefully match winning) change has been made: the web based software is now centrally hosted in Windhoek. No more vulnerable local (database and web server) installations at school PC’s scattered around the country. Only thing needed is Internet access, a running web browser on the PC and trained staff. Only? Despite the impressive progress the Namibian Telecom has done half of our project schools in the North have Internet coverage up to now. Biggest headache however is the training: the system is quite complicated having the IT (il-)literacy of some of our staff members in mind. With the current roll-out the biggest issues for all IT projects within the Namibian Government, and at the end the training issue, has not been addressed yet: lack of (technical) personnel involved in IT projects. To overcome this problem for the prestigious SchoolLink project it was decided at top-level in Windhoek that education and IT staff members who have been selected to train schools need to devote more than half of their working time for it till February 2013. Failure ahead: either SchoolLink or other duties will be neglected as most of the members of our regional SchoolLink team already cannot deal with their increasing workload. I really hope that my pessimism will be proven wrong this time.
From time to time also our ICT department has a relaxed time: on the 19th of October we attended the workshop/introduction of the new school management software ‘SchoolLink‘ in Ongwediva. Although the idea of having such an standardized and centralized system is convincing I doubt that the system will come operational in January. As most of the IT projects I run into also this has gone wild: as usual a lot of the technical requirements are not met at school sites. Far worse: prior to our workshop some of the management members and circuit inspectors of the 4-O-Regions had never heard about the whole system before. But some of the schools already received training and are using the system.
Fringe benefits: thanks to government policies (travel distance >50km) our Omusati delegation had the luxury to stay overnight in the Afrika Stadt Haus Hotel.