The following article from the ITWeb news service was seen on AllAfrica.com at
http://allafrica.com/stories/200505091322.html . The comic book format is a
useful one for a number of educational purposes and a set of illustrations are
easily adapted to diverse languages and incorporated in multimedia campaigns
for various purposes. 

Don Osborn
Bisharat.net


Namibia Urged to 'Listen Up' to IT

ITWeb (Johannesburg)
http://www.itweb.co.za/
May 9, 2005 
Posted to the web May 9, 2005 

Warwick Ashford
Johannesburg 

SchoolNet Namibia, a non-profit provider of Internet service, hardware and
training to schools in Namibia, has launched a comic strip to demystify
computers and attract teachers and students to the digital world.

It has teamed up with Strika Entertainment, The Namibian Newspaper and
Johannesburg-based Direq International to produce and distribute the "Hai Ti!"
comic strip, which is aimed at bringing teachers into the computer lab.

  
"Hai Ti!", which means "listen up!" in the Oshiwambo language group, is being
distributed through inclusion in the Namibian Youth Paper, but is also
available online.

"'Hai Ti!' is a character-based drama around the SchoolNet team and teachers at
a remote rural school in Namibia," says Joris Komen, SchoolNet Namibia
executive director.

"It's aimed particularly at teachers and principles educators, who in the main,
are still resistant to information and communications technologies," he
explains.

Komen says one of the aims of "Hai Ti!" is to address misunderstanding and allay
fears among educators about the compatibility of open source software such as
Open Office with similar proprietary systems commonly used in the private
sector.

"In an educational context, the skills acquired by teachers and learners to cut,
copy and paste, and use office administration tools such as word processors,
spreadsheets and multimedia applications, as well as the Internet, must be
completely platform-neutral, without affecting their existing or future
careers," says Komen.

"This medium has the inherent advantages of being entertaining and easy to
understand," says Denis Brandjes, MD of Direq International, which provides
SchoolNet with OpenLab, the open source operating system that runs in school
labs and home computers throughout Africa, particularly in Namibia, Nigeria,
Zimbabwe and SA.

"Strika Communications was chosen for the project because of their success in
using comics as a communication medium. Their flagship product, Supa Strikas,
is one of Africa's biggest publications with over a million copies distributed
each month in seven countries," adds Brandjes.

The first edition of "Hai Ti!" interweaves the stories of a learner who uses the
Internet to prepare for a debate; of a football fan who learns the Internet can
be a better source for sports news than the local shebeen; and of a young
teacher who comes to grips with computer basics with the help of SchoolNet
trainers.

Komen says it is hoped the new approach will assist SchoolNet to guide educators
and the community through the stages of computer ownership, ICT adoption and
ICT integration with the national curriculum.

"We want to encourage educators, learners and communities to embrace these
technologies in their lives. We need to encourage personal control, comfort in
the use of technology and build respect for the intelligence and ability of
educators to use them," says Komen.

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