The Tshwane municipality in South Africa’s Gauteng province, Tuesday, launched what is touted as Africa’s first interactive digital learning centre, established at a cost over $6.9 million.
The centre features state-of-the-art virtual reality equipment and relevant learning software, and will be used to equip 50 students per year (through an 11-month cost-free course) with specialised high-tech skills, based on an internship model.
The Interactive Digital Centre (IDC) is the culmination of a two-year process, beginning with a draft agreement that saw the centre established and unveiled to stakeholders in April 2015, and is a joint venture between the City of Tshwane and its technology partner Eon Reality.
The main objective is to meet a growing need for local relevant VR/AR content, as well as empower students with the skills to establish their own businesses, enter the labour market and work for the IDC to build local learning capacity and create relevant content.
IDC Director Dave Lockwood confirmed that the centre is already collaborating with other Africa markets including Ethiopia, Botswana and Senegal to co-create and leverage local content. The aim is to facilitate knowledge transfer and skills swap between developers.
Mauritius opened its IDC recently, but South Africa has now established the first on the continent. Institutions and organisations from Cape Town, Zimbabwe and Morocco have also expressed interest in engaging the IDC network.
Lockwood said the strong visual component of virtual reality technology overcomes the language barrier that often impacts on eLearning and training in Africa.
From a South African regional point of view, city officials believe the centre is a key component of the region’s overall digital transformation strategy, under the Tshwane Vision 2055 initiative, to help Tshwane emerge as a fully functional smart city and migration to a knowledge economy.
At the heart of the digital strategy is the positioning of ICT to upgrade manual systems and processes, to provideaccess to connectivity, invest in skills development to empower youth and tackle rising unemployment.
The resource will be used to support and sustain projects like the City’s Tshepo 10 000 vocational skills development programme.
City officials are working together with IDC personnel to iron out plans to take virtual technology to rural and under-serviced communities.
Source: IT Web Africa