The Limpopo Provincial government’s Offline Content to Schools without Internet Connectivity Project (Offline Content project for short) provides access to digital content for Limpopo schools without connectivity.
The Offline Content project aims to develop information and communication technology skills in the province and empower community members to be active participants in the knowledge economy.
Started in April 2016, the project is a partnership between German enterprise Linux, open-source software subsidiary SUSE South Africa and the Limpopo provincial government’s Limpopo Connexion agency.
The Offline Content project involves the deployment of laptops and handheld devices to 25 unconnected schools in the province to provide access to educational information. SUSE provided the operating system for the laptops and tablets used in schools across the province, as well as free technical support for the year.
The content is stored on a remote server that is located at the school,where all the information and products are stored. The information stored on the servers can be updated manually by the schools should the addition of new material be required.
April will mark the completion of the second and final phase of the project.
“The public–private partnership reflects the commitment to ensure learners have access to quality tools and information for the digital age,” says SUSE Africa client executive Derek Rule.
One benefit of using open source and SUSE as the foundation of this project is that it is cost effective, as no licensing is required. Further, there is no vendor lock-in, so the 25 schools in the project have complete freedom when it comes to the open-source platform, he emphasises.
The Limpopo provincial government adopted a free open-source software strategy in 2009.
“With partners like SUSE, the province can demonstrate how free and open-source software can be leveraged to deliver on the national development goals and strategies,” says Limpopo Connexion acting CEO Baldwin Ramasobane.
“We want to transform Limpopo into a world-class knowledge society and this is a platform that will enable us to do so.”
Open source is creating opportunities for education, as well as government, to work with the private sector to create practical value for citizens, in this case particularly schoolchildren.
By creating an information-rich society built on knowledge in an open-source environment, the role of education becomes particularly transformational, avers Rule.
The project gives impetus to making learners more career-ready and employable for organisations that are searching for digital-savvy people who are comfortable with using information technologies in practical ways, he explains.
“Partnerships such as these showcase the potential that exists for open source in Africa across the public and private sectors,” concludes Rule.