Smart answer to digital divide
Bridging the digital divide is no longer just a fancy, meaningless IT buzzword in Northern KwaZulu Natal in South Africa, thanks to Linux and a group of Cape Town based entrepreneurs..
Cape Town-based Wizzy Digital Courier, which delivers Internet content via a courier system, and offers cost effective computing and Internet access to schools, has launched a pilot project in Eshowe in Zululand. Eshowe is a small, rural town with very little telephone connectivity.
Andy Rabagliati, technical director of Wizzy Digital Courier, says the company selected KwaZibonele Junior Primary – a school with 950 pupils in grades one to four and with an average age of nine – for the pilot. The school had previously been donated eight computers but had little use for them.
Wizzy Digital Courier has installed two servers: one of its small servers used for e-mail and radio connectivity and a Linux thin-client server to replace the Microsoft software on the school computers. The thin-client software reduces maintenance in a school environment because instead of performing maintenance on every computer in the network all configuration and software installation is only performed only once on the thin-client server.
\’\’Students have already moved from learning to log in to basic computer literacy skills, mouse practice, drag-n-drop, and keyboard familiarity by means of Linux programs that are fun and educational,\’\’ says Rabagliati.
Wizzy Digital Courier has also secured a contract with Eshowe High School to refit its computer room using the system deployed at KwaZibonele Junior Primary. Eshowe High, an ex-Model C school, has 620 pupils.
Wizzy Digital Courier is a tenant at the Cape Town-based UU Net Bandwidth Barn, which provides incubation for start-up ICT enterprises in the Western Cape. The Cape IT Initiative (CITI), a not-for-profit agency focused on developing the ICT cluster in the Western Cape, launched the UU Net Bandwidth Barn 18 months ago.
Wizzy Digital Courier previously worked in conjunction with the Zion-Benton/Esangweni Partnership to offer cost-effective computing and Internet access to Esangweni Secondary, a township school in Khayalitsha, Site B. Pupils at that school now have their own personal e-mail addresses, which are delivered via Wizzy Digital Courier and the Bandwidth Barn server.
Masedi Molosiwa, the Executive Director of CITI, said: \’\’CITI has created and supported entrepreneurs such as Wizzy Digital Courier, through internal support programmes and offering a creative environment for innovation.