The High School practicum programme for 2017 is well underway at the United Nations Information Centre Windhoek, and on Wednesday, 10 May 2017, the group were taken on an interesting journey to learn more about technology and education.
The third day of the programme started off with a ‘do you know your partner’ warm up session, the idea behind the game was for the students to get to know each other better. This really created excitement and prepared the group for the guest speaker of the day.
The participants were addressed by a guest speaker, Mr. Schalk Eramus, the Chief Operating Officer of Paratus Telecom and his colleague Ms. Sunette Burben. Paratus Telecom is a 100% wholly owned Namibian telecommunications operator with a prolific network extending the entire Namibia with additional international points of presence located in Johannesburg, Lisbon and London. It provides telecommunications services to the Namibian public as well as the private and corporate sector.
Mr. Schalk Erasmus’s presentation was titled ‘Education and Technology’. The main aim of the presentation was to enlighten the youth on the revolution of technology on our society and future generations. He outlined the history of technology and the internet in Namibia and globally. Addressing this issue highly depends on the better judgement of humans. The learners were particularly interested when the guest speaker outlined the advantages and disadvantages of technologies in education which include the following.
Advantages of technologies in education
- The use of information is now at scholars and teachers fingertips
- This advances self learning
Disadvantages of technologies in education
- Today’s generation is born into the digital age
- Teachers are the ones lacking knowledge
- Students are more interested in the social aspect of technology like playing games, downloading apps and social media which leads to the tendency of humans becoming lazy and complacent.
Statistics reveal that 108% of the Namibian population own cell phones (not smart phones) and with regard to technology connectivity Namibia was ranked 128th in the world which gives a clear indication that Namibia is far behind in terms of connectivity.
Namibia is a vast but very small country and faces many challenges in keeping abreast with the advancement of technology. These challenges include the following:
- 1 computer for every 20 scholar and only a set of 18 computers per school.
- Lack of power in rural areas.
- Lack of broadband internet connectivity.
- Teachers have been slow to transform the ways they teach despite influx of new technologies.
- Digital distractions, academics and parents alike have expressed concerns about digital distractions such as misuse of internet; smart phones which make it easy for learners to cheat in tests and exams.
- Lack of firewalls and parental consent because data can get compromise, corrupted or hijacked.
The presentation was an eye opener to the students and they learnt a great deal regarding the role of technology, with that said, technology also requires a great deal of responsibility.
After this very informative in-depth presentation learners engaged in a round table discussion on “what is the future of quality education with respect to technology”? The discussions placed great emphasis on the thirteen Namibian marginalized groups: orphans, street kids, over age children, children of farm workers, teenage mothers, khoisan in rural remote areas, children with special needs, ovahimba in rural remote, refugees in camps.
The participants came up with solutions such as educational radio channels in various languages for children of farm workers, street kids should receive certificates for courses completed to provide a sense of achievement. The Namibian government has a good system in place for teenage mothers to return to school after labour. The team strongly suggested that teenage mothers should make use of these opportunities to complete their secondary school studies. Participants also came up with a suggestion to disseminate a video compilation of lessons to help teenage mothers stay on track with the school curriculum.
After lunch the learners received an introductory lesson on how to come up with a social media campaign. The learners were then divided into three groups representing the social media sites – Facebook, Instagram and Twitter with the purpose of enlightening them about the challenges of raising awareness and generate audience interest on certain subject matters and at the same time encourage team work skills.
In conclusion the team encourages the Namibian youth population in particular to make prudent use of technology.
By: Shaun Adams