Zambia is a country that, like many developing countries, faces significant challenges in terms of education. There are 8,000 primary schools and only 500 secondary schools in Zambia. The majority of primary schools are located in under-resourced rural areas. There are 2.8 million pupils in primary school and 340,000 in grades 8-9, with 220,000 in grades 10-12. Schooling concludes after grade 12. There are only 71,000 teachers for a total of 3.4 million students, which is a ratio of 100 students for each teacher.
The iSchool Project,, which is an initiative of AfriConnect Development in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, aims to provide Internet connectivity and online education resources (”e-learning”) to Zambian schools on a commercial basis. The goal is to take advantage of the rapid spread of Internet technology in Zambia. Broadband Internet can now bring modern e-learning to an isolated school – no matter its circumstances. Once e-learning material has been created, it can be used by any number of students anywhere. It works with a teacher present, or without; in a well-resourced school or one with very few resources. There is almost no extra cost for each extra child that is taught. In addition, a key objective of working with the Ministry of Education is to develop the same learning materials for all students throughout the country. It will be high-quality, material, mapped to the Zambian national curriculum and tailored to the students’ needs -- no matter where they are or what resources they have available.
Within this context, iSchool is aiming to define both technology and infrastructure, as well as content and training. The project will:
- Provide computers (modern desktops and netbooks) and Internet connectivity, along with technical training and support. you
- Provide electric power systems where needed.
- Deploy a “computer lab in a container” in some rural locations. This will also allow the use of ”remote teaching” from the capital
- Provide schools with their own websites, and establish twinning schemes.
- Develop new multimedia e-learning content that is interactive, innovative, differentiated, contextualised to Zambia and mapped to the national curriculum. This content is mapped to a half-termly overview that will cover all areas of the national curriculum for each subject and each grade. It also contains weekly plans and detailed lesson plans for each lesson.
- Work with private partners to develop content –for example, the project envisages working with the Intel Skoool Programme on maths and science content and with Cambridge University and the University of Zambia to train teachers to develop and use their own open educational resources.259