- Is low cost computing a feasible solution to some of the information needs in Southern Africa?
- How can (expensive) digital content from textbook providers in OECD countries be made available to various low income groups in Southern Africa, working with universities, and what are the related issues?
- What is the on-the-ground reality about various high-profile low-cost laptop and eBook products being marketed to developing countries, based on testing and pilots in Southern Africa?
The central objective of the Affordable Access Program of the International Association of Digital Publications (IADP) is to improve the training and effectiveness of people who work, or intend to work, in support of poor communities, including agricultural extension officers, in-service teachers, nurses, social workers, and doctors who practice telemedicine. The immediate beneficiaries are the students themselves, while the ultimate beneficiaries will be the farmers, school children, patients and families whom they serve.
The work program specifically aims to facilitate the collaborative development and use of open access e-learning courseware at selected universities, and to provide affordable access to digital publications. It also supports the procurement and configuration of low-cost computers and e-book readers, including the design and deployment of systems to ensure ease of use and compatibility.
This program was recently evaluated by the British Council; results of this evaluation will be shared and discussed, and future directions will be shared.
The initial participating universities are the University of Fort Hare (UFH), the University of KwaZulu Natal (UKZN), and the University of the Western Cape (UWC). The University of South Africa (UNISA) recently joined the Program and the IADP has commenced discussions with the Universities of Malawi, Botswana, and Namibia, with a view to including one or more of them this year.
About the Speaker:
Former World Bank Vice President Angus Scrimgeour is the driving force behind this US$20m project to bring low-cost laptop devices with free access to academic textbooks and coursework to disadvantaged distance students in Africa.