Dr Maggy Beukes-Amiss is a Head of Department and Senior Lecturer at the University of Namibia. Her many achievements – a Doctorate in Computer-integrated Education (CiE) from the University of Pretoria, her over 17 years’ teaching experience in ICT-related subjects – tutoring and training of various participants in eLearning related courses in Namibia and internationally – and her activities as a conference paper reviewer and report editor for eLearning Africa testify to her status as one of the major experts in the eLearning field within Namibia. This year she is chairperson of eLearning Africa’s Local Organising Committee, co-ordinating our work in Namibia. The eLearning Africa News Team asked her what impact she thought ICT would have on education in Namibia over the next few years, and to share any other thoughts she had on the topic. She sent us this letter in response:
Dear eLearning Africa,
The Namibian Government, as elaborated on in Vision 2030, regard ICT skills and competencies as essential and core elements of living and participating fully in the 21st century environment and in the development of a dynamic Knowledge Society. The Knowledge Society is about skills, social networks and leading people to greater social and economic participation. In this context education and technology have a critical role to play in providing the necessary knowledge, skills and competencies through formal, non-formal, informal and lifelong learning.
I would like to believe that we are already using various forms of ICTs for teaching and learning activities in our Namibian classrooms at different levels of our educational system. Huge investments have been made in acquiring hardware, software, training of teachers and policy makers all towards the notion of improving the quality of our education system. However it is my personal wish that the emphasis in using ICTs will shift from the presence of such tools to the pedagogical value of using ICTs in our classrooms, to ensure we distinctively use ICT where it makes a real difference and not just for the sake of using it.
We are in the early stages of measuring the impact of ICTs on education where impact can be measured in several ways using various indicators. However, as we continue to strive towards a knowledge-based society and uplifting the skill sets of our Namibian citizens to survive and thrive in the 21st century, we need to focus on the bigger picture. In my humble opinion the bigger picture relates to breaking all barriers to access, communication, free flow of information and becoming world citizens to mention a few.
To come back to the focus of the question, I would like to relate the impact of ICTs on education in Namibia in the next couple of years to tools that are common-place and used with creativity and confidence at various levels in society striving towards the “tipping point”. Cook, Holley, and Andrew (2007, p.786) define the tipping point as “the point at which enough individuals have adopted an innovation so that the innovation’s further rate of adoption becomes self-sustaining”. I would like to see a visible difference in learning and learning activities, assessment and freely available contextualised digital resources.
Dr Maggy Beukes-Amiss
A spotlight has been thrown onto Namibia, as one of Africa’s rising technological centres and the host country for this year’s eLearning Africa Conference. A series of articles in the eLearning Africa Newsletter are delving into some of the exciting developments going on in that country, as outlined here by Dr Beukes-Amiss. The conference itself will of course reflect many of these projects: with plenary speeches from the Right Hon. Dr Hage Geingob, Prime Minister of the Government of Namibia, presentations on local Namibian endeavours and youth initiatives from Menethe Hambira of the National Institute for Educational Development (NIED) and Jameson Mbale of the University of Namibia, respectively. The second plenary, entitled “Towards an (Upwardly) Mobile Africa?” will feature one of our hosts, the Honorable Joel Kaapanda, Minister of the Namibian government for Information and Communication Technologies, and will be chaired by Dr Beukes-Amiss herself.