ACCRA, Ghana — Though many associate electronics manufacturer Samsung with smartphones, in certain African countries Samsung develops a different mobile device: African Internet Schools. By retrofitting shipping crates with solar panels and computer equipment, Samsung creates computer labs for students and teachers in regions across Africa. Samsung’s Internet Schools help students in Africa get better educational resources and learn the computer skills they need to get jobs.
On August 12, Ghana received its first Internet School from Samsung’s program. The structure, which contained 25 laptops with Internet access, a printer, a central server and an interactive whiteboard, was placed next to a local junior high school to serve as a computer lab. Samsung has worked with governments to provide similar buildings to South Africa, Kenya, Sudan, Senegal and Nigeria.
The Internet Schools can overcome many of the obstacles preventing wider access to information technology in Africa. Since many rural areas in Africa do not have reliable power sources, Samsung’s schools run on self-contained solar power. The use of shipping containers as school buildings also allows Samsung to build the computers at their factories and send the schools where they are needed.
With the help of new computer resources, African countries can improve their educational programs and train students to work with modern technology. Ghana Education Minister Naana Jane Opoku-Agyeman praised the new school, saying that it “ensures that modern day education reaches each and every corner of Africa and…enables those without electricity to benefit from the use of technology.”
Samsung’s educational initiative will help African students become more competitive internationally because it exposes them to the same technology the developed world uses. This will help even the poorest students get job training for many positions and learn how to use the Internet in everyday life.
Countries that benefit from Samsung’s schools appreciate the training that the next generation of engineers receives. Nigeria, home to one of Samsung’s larger engineering academies, needs technicians that can work with newer computer models. Babatunde Fashola, a Nigerian official, noted that “the ability to repair the latest technology is key to wealth creation” for local engineers and businesses.
Another advantage of the Internet Schools is their general education programs, which Korean Education and Research Information Services (KERIS) pre-downloads into the servers. All of the Internet Schools have access to a complete K-12 curriculum, without as much need for students to buy textbooks. KERIS also trains teachers to integrate technology and information from the Internet into their lessons.
With its programs, Samsung intends to make technology more accessible to all and to give all children the ability to learn and expand their minds. The company hopes to teach 2.5 million students in Africa how to use computers by 2015 using its Internet Schools.
Samsung’s Internet Schools are powerful educational tools that provide students with normally unavailable technology and training. The initiative to teach poorer communities how to use modern technology will help millions of young people find jobs and will fight poverty in Africa.
– Ted Rappleye