By David Mugabe
Technology researchers, developers and entrepreneurs will converge in Kampala, Uganda for the eLearning Africa Conference from 28 – 30 May this year.
Under the theme: “Opening Frontiers to the Future”, the conference will highlight the many ways in which innovations in education, such as the solar classrooms, are helping to realize Africa’s potential.
Keynote speakers including entrepreneur Rebecca Enonchong and Bitange Ndemo, senior lecturer at the University of Nairobi and former Permanent Secretary of Kenya’s Ministry of Information and Communication, will present and share success stories and incisive critiques of Africa’s eLearning scene.
They will be joined by Noah Samara, chairman and chief executive of Yazmi, Jochen Polster, vice president EMEA, NComputing, Mark East, general manager Microsoft EMEA and ASIA Education Industry Group; and Bright Simons, writer, researcher, social entrepreneur and President of pioneering eHealth network mPedigree.
“Over 60 parallel sessions will highlight the staggering diversity of technology and education that is transforming education in Africa,” read a statement. In addition, on the 28th, a varied selection of workshops will give participants the opportunity to learn hands-on skills for blogging, digital video authorship and digital entrepreneurship.
There will be a diverse mix of grassroots practitioners, governmental representatives, academic researchers and teachers, business leaders and innovators. “The conference will be an opportunity for all to learn, share and inspire each other to work towards the fulfillment of Africa’s potential.”
One such institution that is extending education services is the Maendeleo Foundation, an organization that makes computers available in areas of Uganda where there is no electricity or broadband Internet.
Asia Kamukama, executive director of Maendeleo uses a four-by-four with solar panels strapped to the roof, the boot containing all the equipment needed for a fully-functional ICT classroom.
While infrastructure in the equatorial region is underdeveloped, it does have a key advantage: plentiful, reliable sunlight. Mobile solar classrooms, an ever more common sight trundling along the potholed roads of rural Africa, show that the creative use of an abundant resource can overcome disadvantages.
In this way the Maendeleo Foundation has reached 37,000 people in East Africa – 80% students, but also teachers and out-of-school groups, youth, women, farmers and local business people