Printer-friendly versionSend by emailPDF version

Intel, the software giant has launched the World Ahead Programme, which aims at expanding accessibility, connectivity, education and content for the world's developing communities. The programme aims at developing low-cost full-featured PCs for first-time computer users, extending Worlwide Interoperability for Microwave Access (WiMAX) technology and deployment, training 10 million more teachers on the effective use of technology in education and donating 100,000 PCs to classrooms in developing communities to promote the effective use of technology for improved learning.

Highway Africa News Agency

Intel, the software giant has launched the World Ahead Programme, which aims at expanding accessibility, connectivity, education and content for the world's developing communities. The programme aims at developing low-cost full-featured PCs for first-time computer users, extending Worlwide Interoperability for Microwave Access (WiMAX) technology and deployment, training 10 million more teachers on the effective use of technology in education and donating 100,000 PCs to classrooms in developing communities to promote the effective use of technology for improved learning.

To be used in the programme are low-cost laptops christened ClassMate, the cheapest computer ever to run a Windows programme. Though smaller than the standard laptop, the ClassMate has the same features and currently retails at $390. However, the laptop has its unique features, key of which is a liquid proof keyboard that cannot be easily destroyed by children for which it is intended. It also comes with a small screen, which can easily be handled by children and has a Windows operating system. According to John Davies, Intel?s World Ahead Programme Vice-President, the laptops are made in Taiwan, with prices set to come down to $200 by next year for the benefit of the users.

In order to achieve maximum efficiency and efficacy of the programme, Intel will partner with local PC assemblers, whose efforts have already resulted in the development of a PC in Kenya known as madaraka (Kiswahili for independence). With over 6000 PC assemblers in Africa, Intel aims at working with them with a view to developing local Central Processing Units (CPUs) and motherboards.

Davies says schools, which will participate throughout the country, have already been identified. Negotiations are also underway with Telkom Kenya and the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) to make available WiMAX to institutions not covered by the national telephone grid to enhance e-learning. And for purposes of collaboration with the private and public sectors, Intel has held meetings with Safaricom CEO Michael Joseph, industrialist Manu Chandaria, Vice-President Moody Awori and senior officials from the ministries of Education, Finance, Foreign Affairs, Information and Communications as well as Planning and National Development.

The programme has already rolled out in 170 centres in 60 countries, including Nigeria and South Africa. "Our aim is to have participating schools connected to the Internet so as to have learning materials delivered via the same avenue", says Davies.

To enhance e-learning, Intel has also developed software to be used by participating schools. Once the programme has been adopted by pilot institutions, Intel will invite other software companies to develop the same for the local schools where they operate. So far, the programme has provided $5 million worth of content and will soon invite other content developers to modify existing content to make it relevant to individual countries. The programme starts with one laptop per class and eventually to all students in the institution having a computer to encourage personalized learning.

Intel, however, is venturing in an area that is already crowded, given that similar programmes, such as the Nepad e-schools initiative has already rolled out. "We are simply coming in to add value to the existing initiatives, not necessarily to compete", said Davies at a brief ceremony held at Nairobi's Hotel Intercontinental.