Nestling in the beautiful Ezulwini Valley in Swaziland, St. Mary’s High School educates over 500 students. The majority are from “child-headed” families, in which one or more children have taken over as the head of their household and fend for themselves without any adults to look after them. In view of its tight budget for acquiring technology, the school was looking for an affordable and efficient solution to provide internet access and PCs to its students. With the NComputing X-series solution, St. Mary’s 500+ pupils now enjoy an up-to-date computer lab that bears comparison with schools in industrialised countries.
The spread of HIV and AIDS has taken its toll on the population of Swaziland, and orphans run as many as one in ten households. In a “child-headed” household, students often have to drop out of school to work, worrying more about where their next meal is coming from than their academic future.
Faced with these challenges, school administrators in Swaziland have made the task of motivating pupils to stay at school a top priority by providing access to new technology and different ways of learning.
Deliver affordable access to computing technology to the 500+ students at St. Mary’s High School, many of whom are from “child-headed” families.
Implement the NComputing X-series solution to create a 49-user computer lab that is accessible to all.
Access to a computer lab with capabilities that rival those found in any affluent school.
Global Innovative Systems i-Schools Initiative implemented the solution. The i-Schools Initiative is bridging the digital divide in Swaziland’s educational system.[/callout]
“We’ve always been at the forefront of educating our pupils in all manner of educational and life skills, and opening up the world of technology to them to help them create a better life for themselves and their families is a key part of that mix”, explained Mr Malindzisa, Principal of St. Mary’s High School. “Although our pupils face challenges in their home life, they are all keen to further their education and see what the world has to offer, if not physically, then at least through the internet”, he added.
The school had a few donated computers available for the students, but the ongoing cost of maintaining them resulted in unsustainable budget cuts elsewhere in the school. “With such a tight budget, we had to look at a long-term, affordable solution that would give us the maximum number of seats to provide the pupils with the tools and education they need to give their families a head start”, added Mr. Malindzisa.
Technology for the 21st century
With budget constraints and ongoing maintenance to take into consideration, Global Innovative Systems recommended that the school run a pilot of the NComputing X-series solution. NComputing virtual desktops enable schools to share the excess power of each PC with up to eleven students, dramatically lowering PC acquisition costs.
The NComputing solution works because today’s PCs are so powerful that the vast majority of applications only use a small fraction of the computer’s capacity. NComputing’s hardware and vSpace™ virtualisation software taps into this unused capacity so that it can be simultaneously shared by multiple pupils. The virtualisation software works with standard Windows and Linux PCs, and each pupil’s monitor, keyboard, and mouse connect to the shared PC through a small and highly reliable access device. The device itself has no CPU, memory, or moving parts, so it’s easy to deploy and maintain. By spreading out the cost of the shared computer, schools can provide up to five times the number of seats for the same money.
In the longer term, most PCs are disposed of after three to five years, and when that PC is discarded, about ten kilograms of e-waste ends up in a landfill. NComputing access devices weigh just 150 grams and last up to ten years, so there’s much less waste that finds its way to a landfill site.
The school chose the NComputing X-series, which gets its power through the network cable, reducing the need to install extra electrical sockets and cutting their electricity bills instantly. The school deployed a 49-seat computer lab with just seven PCs and NComputing.
The possibilities are endless
The NComputing solution gives the pupils and teachers a new computing experience that could compete with schools in any industrialised country. “The whole school and community are so excited by the implementation of the solution. The pilot period was extremely useful to us, as we saw how easy the system was to install and maintain. We not only made cost savings in the initial set up, but also on an ongoing basis, which means that we can continue to extend the computer lab. With the help of Global Innovation Systems and NComputing, we are well on the way to providing our children with the technical skills and know-how that will rival all of the schools in the wider area”, concluded Mr. Malindzisa.