"Computer skills have now invariably joined reading, writing and arithmetic as one of the basic learning processes because having access to a computer puts the world literally at one's fingertips," yesterday said Nangolo Mbumba, the Minister of Education.

He was speaking at a handing-over ceremony of 700 computers from First National Bank (FNB) via School Net Namibia in Katutura to his ministry. The second-hand computers were collected from FNB offices throughout the country.

"Prosperity and knowledge go hand in hand. As a society, we are not educated because we are prosperous. We are prosperous because we have extended the frontiers of education. Today, more than ever, getting a good job and achieving a higher standard of living, requires even greater skills and broader knowledge," Mbumba said.

According to Mbumba, the creation of jobs is anchored in the infrastructure of innovation, skills and knowledge acquirement.

"To get a job, to keep a job and to move on to a better job, there is only one resource that will equip

Namibians to succeed, that is to develop the very best skills they can. In a very real way, the opportunity to learn must be the central part of any national job strategy. The demand for knowledge and skills spans all occupations from factory to farm, from software to sales, from medicine to mechanics. It is about the need to upgrade skills and develop new ones consistently," the minister moralized.

He argued that skills underpin a strong economy and a secure society and that unemployment among the youth remains a serious problem.

"The backbone of a country is the strength of its middle class. There is no better way to reduce the gap between the rich and poor than to facilitate the path to greater education. Therefore, every Namibian who wants to learn should have the opportunity to do so. An important part of unemployment among the youth lies in higher education. However, too many of our young people still confront the dilemma - no experience, no job, no experience," said Mbumba, who alluded to the fact that Government has introduced many projects to alleviate the plight of the country's youth.

"Clearly, the private sector is the engine of job creation.

Many employers are rising to the challenge of helping to hire and train more youth. Much more remains to be done and many more employers must rise to that challenge if it is to be overcome. School Net is bringing the Internet into the classroom making it a vital learning tool in every Namibian school," the minister said.

School Net's Computers for Schools Initiative annually donates thousands of computers to schools across the country, helping children develop computer literacy at an early age.

"The goal of this programme is to make sure no matter where Namibians live, no matter how small a town, how small a school, every student has access to the same storehouse of knowledge," the minister said proudly.

The CEO of FNB Namibia Holdings, Vekuii Rukoro, told the audience that the FNB Foundation aggressively keeps his company's corporate responsibility alive and kicking.

"The use of information technology in and for education is rapidly expanding around the world and is now internationally regarded as a necessity and opportunity.

With reference to the importance of mathematics and science in technological development, the FNB Foundation deems it appropriate in donating these 700 PC's valued at N$256 300 to the Ministry of Education," Rukoro said.

He urged Namibians to stay focused on the national development agenda and make good use of global opportunities.

According to the executive director of School Net Namibia, Joris Komen, some 100 students yearly pass through the technical course in computer technology.

New Era