Community meeting the Namibian Education Technology Policy with OLPC's XO laptops: is it a viable approach?
There is a need in the literature to describe the implementation processes of technology integration in education through community involvement. In particular, there is limited research available about the mechanism or process behind the community technology trends in Namibia. Few cases explore community involvement in meeting educational technology policy needs. The ICT Policy for Education and the Tech/Na! Implementation policy plan aims to prepare learners to participate in new global economies of the 21st century. It also recognizes that presently, schools and other educational institutions are ill-prepared for the demands of the 21st century (ICT policy for Education, 2004). The policy also presupposes that integrating technology in the classroom is the appropriate vehicle to achieve the goal of knowledge, equity, quality and access for all. Although the Namibian Ministry of Education has focused on developing the technology infrastructure at secondary school level first, many educators and community activists has argued that technology integration would be more successful if implemented at primary school level. It is for this purpose that the Ngoma community explored ways in which to integrate technology in and outside of the classroom as a community effort.
Results in this case study reveals that despite the valiant efforts of community the educational approaches and understanding of the policy hampered further advancement of these XO computers in the schools for learning. Moreover, the OLPC model approach of ownership and alleged focus on constructivist education and 'digital utopianism appeared to be conflicting in the implementation and sustainability of the community project. Community members priorities changed as the project was implemented due to events of thefts, parent complaints which resulted in short-term ineffective solutions. The Itenge Development Foundation remains an integral part of the project, however with minimal community involvement and use of laptops.
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