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Engen powers East Cape open source

By   |  March 24, 2006

The Shuttleworth Foundation’s Tuxlab project has received a welcome boost from Engen, which will be providing sponsorship for the installation of nine Tuxlabs in the impoverished Eastern Cape province of South Africa. The labs bring open source computer laboratories to the neediest of schools.

The Engen sponsorship will enable the Shuttleworth Foundation to continue with it’s commitment towards introducing its Tuxlab program to the Eastern Cape region, says the Foundation. Tuxlabs utilise open-source software to provide learners with access to curriculum based educational content as well as the opportunity to develop computing skills. Open-source software in turn allows for freedom of choice and reduces the setup and maintenance costs of computer labs as it is freely available with no annual licensing fees.

The Tuxlab program was initiated to develop a model that can be replicated by the department of education and other organisations to accelerate and increase the implementation of computer labs in Eastern Cape and South African schools.

The Engen sponsorship plays an important role in ensuring that the Foundation is able to reach its targets in the Eastern Cape and will hopefully encourage a greater roll-out of labs in the future. The nine labs will be installed over three weekends starting off on 11 March and culminating in an official opening ceremony on 24 March. The ceremony will be attended by a number of dignitaries including representatives from the EC Department of Education, representatives of the Shuttleworth Foundation and Engen

“Engen believes it is through partnerships like these that our country will be able to deliver on its development agenda. This is a true public private partnership. The schools have shown a great deal of enthusiasm and ownership of the project,” says Khanyisa Balfour, Engen Group CSI Manager

According to Hilton Theunissen, Tuxlab spokesperson: “The Eastern Cape Province suffers from less than five percent ICT penetration in its 6 000-plus schools. Partnerships such as the one between the Department of Education, Engen and the Shuttleworth Foundation are important for the future development of our youth and ensuring that computer access are available to learners and teachers in schools. It is also important that all stakeholders are involved to ensure its sustainability and proper implementation of a proven a model.”

Other companies who will be involved with these installations include Computers4kids, which will be providing curriculum based learning programs for use in the labs.

Volunteers will also play an important role in making these installs successful. A group of volunteers from the Port Elizabeth Linux User Group (PELUG) will be offering up their time and experience over the three weekends.

The nine schools who will be receiving Engen Tuxlabs are:
– Walmer High School;
– Chapman High School;
– Westville High School;
– Vezubuhle Primary;
– Fontein Primary School;
– David Vuku Primary;
– Enqileni Intermediate School;
– Khwezi Lomso Comp. School; and
– Phakama Primary School.

The Shuttleworth Foundation launched its Tuxlab program in the Western Cape in 2002 and since then the program has turned into one of its biggest successes to date. The aim of the Tuxlab program is simple: enhance the education of learners through an easy replicable and economical model through the use of open source computer labs to facilitate curriculum based learning in schools.

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