School Computers Rot in Store in Namibia

Computing

The bulk of a N$9 million consignment of computer equipment bought by the Ministry of Education early last year for distribution to 40 schools has not yet reached its intended destinations. The computers have been kept in storage at the Ministry's recently established National Education Technology Service and Support Centre (Netts) in Windhoek.

The reason for the delay appears to be a lack of proper infrastructure at most of the schools identified. Many of the schools, according to Ministry officials, do not have the necessary power points. There is also concern about a lack of security at some of the schools.

Sources in the Ministry are worried that the warranty on the computers could lapse before they are installed. But the Deputy Director at the Ministry, Johan van Wyk, yesterday said that the warranty would only take effect once the computers were installed. "We knew that the computers would be with us for a while, because some of the schools were just not ready yet," he said.

Van Wyk said about a third of the computers had been deployed since the arrival of the last consignment in July last year. This equipment, he said, was sent mostly to Windhoek schools and various colleges of education and vocational training centres across the country. Van Wyk said the Ministry was waiting on its regional directors to confirm that the identified schools were ready for the installation.

"I would rather have them rot here right now than send them to a school where I have no guarantee that they will be safe", added Jens Viëter, Director of the Netts centre.

Both officials rejected claims that the Ministry had been dragging its feet on the matter. "The last batch of the computers only reached us in July, and shortly after that was the start of the exams," Van Wyk said, adding that the Ministry had received a directive from Minister Nangolo Mbumba last year that no other activities were to be undertaken at schools during examinations. He said schools in the Erongo and Karas regions had recently confirmed that they were ready for the computers, and the installation should be done next week.

The Namibian