September 28, 2011 - 09:00AM
The following is the output of the real-time captioning taken during the Sixth Meeting of the IGF, in Nairobi, Kenya. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid to understanding the proceedings at the session, but should not be treated as an authoritative record.
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>> DR. BITANGE NDEMO: -- So this is the left, you didn't know how the blood was cleaned. We have the technology to bring education to even the most junior students to understand why this is happening.
The government is looking that universities can be areas where they can develop not only content for themselves but other high school and even other schools. You can actually build a revenue model to do this, and be able to bring this content. That is what the government wants to see, the universities get involved, begin research, but the research, that's been my dream from the government side, is to see that in electronic format and shared not only over the world.
I'll give just a few examples because I don't want to go beyond my time. Universities like in agriculture have done wonderful research which would benefit the country in terms of food security, but nobody communicates that. In some cases the farmers have a variety of crops but they have multiple production by ten times, saying about coffee, if you look at some of the area varieties, they will produce 1 KG, they would have one that would give you up to 20 KGs per bush, meaning productivity can be much higher than what we had.
The university can use this in collaboration with other universities to create greater knowledge for our region and to begin the benefits of our country.
Second is scientific-based decision-making. That has not been very generously used in Africa. This is what we want -- where we want to go because the capability of the new systems to crunch these numbers and be able to provide this.
We are doing that through the open portal which the government launched in July. What we are doing is talking to universities, they can take that data, simplify it and create information out of it because the public would not understand a lot of the details or data sets that were released. We are asking the universities for visualization so they would be able to understand.
Simply what I'm saying is that broadband has given us the capability to practically begin to do intervention in the country because practically all the African countries, none of the countries looks at productivity and need. There is no time for productivity.
I have asked so many people what is it and it is explained in a sentence which makes it very difficult, and yet this is what needs to be defined and understood because as population increases with very poor policies, you begin to see productivity decline drastically, especially in the food area.
So universities with this broadband in cooperation with other universities and other institutions in Africa, we can actually change Africa irreversibly and be able to make decisions that would help, not decisions based on -- we have a real opportunity with broadband.
Kenya has done very well. We still have areas that are lacking. We are lagging behind in terms of content development which is the most important aspect of any country's development.
I think I will stop there. I will respond to any other questions and I hope I have expounded the vision of this country the best way I can.
>> Thank you, Mr. Secretary. I think all of this -- this entire endeavor to try to bring broadband to the universities of the world and this region takes dedicated leadership and so we thank you for not only your vision but your persistence because that is required, I think, to move these things forward.
If you can stay a little --
>> DR. BITANGE NDEMO: I will stay.
>> KATHRYN BROWN: -- we would love for you to hear a little discussion and perhaps you might want to reflect on some things you hear and maybe even give a further push.
For everyone, I'm Kathryn Brown, Senior Vice-President at Verizon Communications, a U.S.-based company that has networks around the world. We provide probably one of three or four of the large Internet backbone providers in the world.
In the U.S. we have a nationwide 3G and now 4G wireless network, LTE network that is being deployed that to my knowledge is the largest and fastest in the world. We have built -- to the home in our wired line part of our service area so we provide 100 megabits to the home.
We are very much dedicated to using these technologies to solve real problems in the world, and one of our huge focuses is on education. We actually do connect many of the universities in our country. We have partnerships elsewhere.
On the content side I was just showing the Secretary a website called thinkfinity.org which is a 1-12 curriculum website meant for teachers filled with lesson plans. Last year we were in the region and, Theresa, you may have a slide you want to put up where we, together with Uganda Martyrs University where you'll meet Professor Olweny in a minute, we convened a symposium on what now since those undersea cables had now started to come to east Africa, there would be connectivity with the rest of the world. What now for the rural universities in Uganda and the region? Could we get connected and we spent two and three days in a very wonderful discussion.
Three of the folks at the table were part of that discussion to say where did we get, what have we learned? We are not just starting. We are down the road into understanding some lessons learned, some figuring out of best practices to understanding what the development is for broadband on the campuses and if you look at the next slide you'll see that what we know is happening in rural East Africa, as we know there are a lot of towers doing wireless technology and we learned some things about what can happen with the back hall that's connected to those towers and what that last mile connectivity could look like in places like Uganda Martyrs and you'll hear a little bit about that today.
So this was about, again, two-day multistakeholder symposium that was very intense and interesting and with that I'm going to turn it over to our speakers to start telling us a little bit about what they have learned in the last year and where they want us to go.
So our first speaker is Walda Roseman, Chief Operating Officer of the Internet South. Last year she did consulting work and helped put together this symposium so she has spent a lot of time over the last 20 years on issues of access and very specifically on what you do in the education area.
Walda, let me turn the podium over to you.
>> WALDA ROSEMAN: Thank you very much, Kathy, and thank you, Dr. Ndemo. I think you are the perfect role model of what we all need in government and government policy. If in fact the tough issues of connectivity and universities will happen and happen well.
I think you see this represented at this table. The Internet Society's mission is to work in partnership with others to create a world where there is a open, end-to-end platform of Internet for everybody. And universities as we see it, and I know the people at this table see it, are one of the core -- one of the primary keys to unlocking the potential of education, jobs, economic and social development as we have heard the doctor say. Multistakeholder partnerships are probably best illustrated in this particular area because as we learned ourselves as we were putting together this program, it is not possible just to talk about the supply side. In fact we have already heard reference to what's happening on the demand side and how does one pull that together.
So let me just put a fine point on this in saying that without a partnership in a country and in the region that is partnerships that are both vertical, meaning that are between government and industry and national research and education networks and universities and NGOs and also horizontal, meaning within those sectors and for this I would refer, for example, to government policymakers where both the Ministry of Communications and the Ministry of Education are working as partners as well as probably the ministry of finance and power and whatever else goes in to making universities the core institutions regardless of where they are located.
This is the same of course within the university and academic communities and the industry communities themselves.
When we came together last year, we admittedly had a first draft program that was very supply oriented. And I remember talking to the end remember in Uganda and learned they were polling the 13 universities there, is that right, Mark, 13?
13 chartered universities in Uganda for how much bandwidth they thought they would need now that broadband had arrived into the region.
Four of them said, we need one megabit per second. Now, I -- did I hear you correctly? Yes. One megabit per second. Well, what that told us is that possibly more important than getting the broadband to the universities and plugging it up was making sure that the universities were ready for it, that they understood the transformative power of the Internet and of broadband. They understood how young people would use the Internet, how it could transform the administrative aspects, the learning itself, the research, ability to share expertise among universities in the country and the region, and in the world. And how do they prepare for that? How do they scale it? How do they ensure that the ENRENs and the operators have a plan so that commodity traffic doesn't overwhelm research and high bandwidth curricular and research.
It's a real challenge.
And one that takes everybody working together. On the supply side, the challenges I think are perhaps a bit better known at least to this community which is how does one get or create an economic environment that the bandwidth can go into the rural areas and into not-for-profit institutions and perhaps act as anchor institutions for community communications as well without undermining the ability to use it for academic purposes.
There is certainly an expertise issue there, there is a --
-- that they can facilitate market solutions in many instances by not charging for spectrum, by working on a broader level to develop IXPs and --
-- what they have been doing the past year in Africa, we have launched something called the Internet traffic exchange program, ITE, one is working locally to help develop robust and low-cost effective local inner exchange that work in Kenya, trying to trigger innovation in content hosting services which of course is a requisite for local content and development and enhancing cross-border connection by both policy contributions and facilitating regional economic communities for operators for them to be able to aggregate their traffic. There is much more to this program but the idea and a large part of it is capacity building but the aim behind it is to try to work at the local community level, with ISPs, with governments, to help bring down the cost and bring up the robustness of connectivity in Africa. Thank you.
>> KATHRYN BROWN: Thank you, Walda. Our next speakers will talk about how this all works on the ground.
Professor Mark Olweny -- you are an Associate Dean of the faculty but he's actually a marvelous professor of architecture and he'll tell you -- he has a great need for broadband in his area of expertise and he'll talk to you a little bit about what it feels like to be at a rural university. Mark?
>> MARK OLWENY: Thank you very much, Kathy.
Thanks very much for inviting me to this panel as a demand side of broadband in Africa. Coming from rural areas makes it more pertinent. Martyrs University represents the potential growth for a lot of Internet services in Africa but for the most part in Africa, have still remained as a growth potential rather than actually being achieved.
As of last year, June, when we had the symposium in Kampala, nothing much had happened and as Walda pointed out, not much universities knew how much capacity they really needed but since then our university did a stoptake and it has increased capacity. At the time it was still on one megabyte. We have increased to 10 since that meeting and we are still looking to increase it further. We are not a particularly large university, we are only about 1,500 students so we are till able to do a lot with that as opposed to now with the large universities with have quite a small capacity. One of the new ones still running on 256 K which is not enough even for their e-mail, let alone for education.
So there are a lot of opportunities still out there but a lot of constraints because the potential, decision-makers really haven't come to the table to know what exactly is being required or what needs to be put in place. So that things can get moving.
Just to put it in perspective, I'll actually go back ten years to when faculty was started where we started with 30 students at that time. No student came with a that laptop, no student had a mobile phone and less than 20% had actually used a computer. Fast-forward to 2011, last intake, every single student comes with their cell phone, 90% have used computers, and 60 to 70% actually show up with a laptop. At the master's level it's now 100%. Which means the demand has increased extremely quickly.
The universities need to meet that demand because students are requiring a very large input from their -- what is required of them.
Now, we have in, for instance, a lot of research has to be done online. We are the largest user of bandwidth on the campus and it is not for YouTube which is quite significant. It is actually being done for research.
To aid with that, the university itself partnered with one of our local service providers, because I think this is true for most of Africa. That last mile is generally the mandate of the users but we found a way of getting suppliers to put that in and that last month for us, which was fiber, was put in by MTN just on the proviso we use their services and they have provided a lot of other services so it was actually an opportunity there to actually go further so we don't have to pay for that last mile which can be quite expensive. The cost of each meter of fiber.
With that ten megabyte we could do a lot more than we did in the past. We're now looking to connect our external campuses of which there are four spread on literally the four corners of Uganda which is quite expensive when you are trying to use alternative means. Really our situation is what can you do if you really put your mind to it? We are hoping to take this further and maybe partner with other universities both within Uganda and also within Africa and -- (unintelligible) -- to see how far we can take this to enable us to achieve the education that we need to provide our students because they are competing in a global world, not just for Uganda, not just for Africa.
Why we're taking this at the moment, where we're heading really has to do with content. There has been talk about what is the content, what exactly we're using this extra bandwidth for. And over the last year, my faculty, for instance, has been active in getting all its lecture material online. At the moment, it's only available within the university because we have not managed to get the links working correctly with our ICT department but for next year all that will be available and we want to be one of the for months providers of content within Uganda, at this stage probably the foremost providers of architectural content in Africa because that is something we feel we can do and people need access to.
We can access MIT but how much use is that in our context? We also are dealing with something, and this is just to finish off, holding a conference next year in June again, seems to be 12-month periods between conferences but this one is actually more encompassing.
It's actually a conference on sustainable futures where we are targeting whole diversity of people and one of the key areas that we're looking at is called exploiting technological change which for our purposes is particularly important for the future of our students. We are dealing with rapidly changing technologies, which broadband is actually able to provide us but are we exploiting it enough so that we are able to compete effectively in the broader field of economics, medicine, engineering and architecture?
This conference in June next year which is by the way available on the Internet, actually try to go where people are, so it's on LinkedIn and Facebook, I believe, trying to broaden it up and another one which again I think is a first for our university and the first in Uganda is getting students to participate in a collaborative project available called special topics 2 and 3 which they're running at a design-built studio which we've actually got participation from as far afield as New Zealand on this particular topic and the students there are
>> KATHRYN BROWN: Our next speaker is professor Meoli Kashorda, CEU of the Kenya education trust and I think he has much to tell us. Meoli.
>> PROF. MEOLI KASHORDA: Thank you, Kathy. Delighted to speak at this panel, especially with the my PS here who is the great supporter of our endeavors.
I probably will only highlight two things in the short time. The first one is I just want to give you something about what does it take to build a research and education network in Africa? Probably it touches a little on what professor Olweny has described for a particular university but for us, we deal with all universities inside the country. So kind of an aggregator of the demand site and therefore an advocate of good use of IT.
Then I will highlight some of the things we do with universities to encourage them not to remain at the one megabit per second need and to do things like professor Olweny is describing in the context.
We call it the -- (unintelligible) -- series where we collect data and then challenge the universities about the way they are using technology. We have discovered over the years, we have done this since 2006, that it is a very good proxy for the quality of education being provided.
And for those of you who don't know KENET that is the education network of Kenya, it started way back in 1999. As a bottom-up organization. It's not governmental. It was created by the universities. At that time we -- one of the reasons that motivated us to come together was the U.S.A. had promised to give us $1 million for the higher education community and we need today organize ourselves. In those days we partnered with the incumbent operator who actually the monopoly operator for Internet services and that was telecom -- (unintelligible) -- it's still around and we started connecting universities.
We were able to gain for a 50 cent price in those days in 2000 off Internet for international bandwidth. But this was not anything significant as we have seen. Over the years what has happened in Kenya is that it has become the organization, the forum, for universities and research institutes, so we actually have -- it's a membership organization, we have 60 members. Mostly universities and research institutes but we do have a few tertiary higher education institutions that are also members.
Of those, we are right now if we fast-forward, we are connecting close to 80 compasses of those institutions and as you have had almost every university will have several campuses, the biggest, University of Nairobi, doesn't have 40,000 students, it has 54,000 students. And so we are serving a community of over 220,000 university students today as spread throughout the country.
How have we done it? It's a combination of two things. It started off as a multi -- as a consortium of the universities themselves and very fortunately about four years ago the government through the Ministry of Information and Communication decided to help these universities to grow their broadband connectivity and give us -- give that university community between 1.5 million dollars which is the largest grant we ever received from anybody.
We have struggled in the last three years to absorb it and so consequently we have two gigabit of international capacity fully paid for, which means that all we pay is the ONM. Once they buy, they get out of the way, they have created for us about seven -- complete set of data centers, so we have been very fortunate in that -- on that side.
But that does not mean the responsibility for the universities has decreased. Because to sustain such an investment to such a network still requires the universities themselves to finance it. So they do pay. We do charge. We probably at the lowest cost providers, but we are sustainable. It's a sustainable network that even if mentioned in many other ways but one of the examples is that we generate 25% of the Google traffic coming out of Kenya.
Now, that is the big picture. The ecosystem for broadband does include the campus net worked and that's where we received lots of help from ISOC in capacity building and training our engineers. The reason a university can need only one megabit can be they don't have enough PCs, they haven't done their backbone networks. There are so many reasons that top a researcher from using the Internet. So in order to move that forward we have used this tool of readiness that challenges them. For example, we challenge them to build labs and we have a target of ten PCs for every 100 students as a minimum, not counting wireless devices. We encourage them to cover wireless hot spots for the whole campuses but we do it indirectly and look at the budgets and challenge them if they just reorganize the budgets they have, they would be able to do that.
In the last one year, we have received the universities themselves have received lots of subsidy through something called -- (unintelligible) -- by the minister of information and communication that allowed I think in the last one year they have bought 13,000 laptops that go to the university students.
That has added to about 35,000 network devices that are around the network so it's a big contribution that the government subsidy, directly, not through KENET, but through the university students. So there is that.
But I also want to raise the issue that was raised by professor Olweny as I close that our biggest focus now that the infrastructure is in place, we have got rural universities with real broadband, we have got university in Baratone in a rural place 400 kilometers away that can use up to 60 megabits per second, they can go up to 100 if they do wish. We have done quite well in that. The biggest challenge is now to transform the way we teach, the way we research. The students get it very quickly. They can use their Google, they can go out and download e-books that are free, they use all sorts of resources if they are MIT or whatever, if you are teaching a subject, you just need to guide them and they do it.
But we have a big project to get the faculty to start creating content and creating content in pedagogically good manner so that's what now is going to be a promotion but in addition to that we promote lots of research collaboration. As you know we actually peer with the research and education network so we are very well paired, that goes through networks and are available to anyone in Kenya.
Those are the things but they are slow, not so -- yeah, so it's a effort for KENET to get bandwidth utilized fully. Thank you.
>> KATHRYN BROWN: Professor, it may be slow but I think you are probably one of the fastest workers I have experienced in this area oh thank you very much for your comments.
We're privileged now to have James Zaca with us who is Executive Director of the National Information Technology Authority in Uganda. We would very much like to hear from you how Uganda is thinking about these issues and perhaps you could tell us a little bit about the plans there. Thank you.
>> JAMES ZACA: Thank you, Kathryn. I must apologize, I was late so I underestimated the traffic but I'm still glad I'm here.
First I'll introduce what the National Information Technology Authority in Uganda is about. It was created in August of 2009 as a -- in Uganda. The executive appointments were met last year in August of 2010. Its mandate is huge and includes operating IT government infrastructure and government services.
So that's what the National Information Technology Authority is about.
I will start by describing a project we took over and that's the National Backbone Information which is a major project for our country. We have completed phase one and Phase two which includes a total of 1,500 kilometers around the country and these phases are enabled us to connect to borders in Kenya and South Sudan and across the country. We are planning to start a phase 3, January of 2012, which will take us with the border of Rwanda and there is a planned phase four which would cover the north of Uganda, northeast.
We do have plans for last mile connectivity and we're working with our sister organization Uganda communications commission which has already connected over 100 pops across the country that connect to different schools. We are planning to connect these pops to the national backbone so that we immediately avail Internet connectivity to the schools and hospitals that were connected using these pops.
We are also planning to provide a link to the submarine cables via -- currently our Internet access to the country, landlocked country, our current access is only through Kenya. We plan to have redundancy through Tanzania.
We are planning to develop a national broadband strategy which this is the guaranteed minimum Internet bandwidth for the targeted user groups and we would like to make sure we deliver that.
We have future plans also for broadband connectivity after the development of that strategy.
We have constrained -- (unintelligible) -- contact government readiness survey to understand the requirements for government ministries, departments, agencies and target user groups. So that we can specifically understand the bandwidth requirements they are using now and how much bandwidth will be projected for use.
Furthermore, we plan to deliver bandwidth over the national backbone to government ministries, departments, agencies and target users groups which include schools, universities, hospitals, research institutions.
Oh that we enable cheaper Internet connectivity to them.
We are already specifically working with the research and education network for Uganda so that we deliver Internet bandwidth to the universities they work with over the national backbone and currently a pilot is under way to connect the University of Gulu.
Those are some of the initiatives we have been working with. We are fairly new but we are putting our feet on the ground and intend to make a mark in ensuring we provide Internet connectivity to this socially disadvantaged groups like schools and universities, hospitals, et cetera.
>> KATHRYN BROWN: Thank you so much. I think as Walda started the conversation it takes many pieces of this puzzle to get the job done in government and the kinds of consortium that you heard about, the universities themselves importantly are the companies that are investing and building networks across the region, across the world and we're I think I'm very pleased that we have (off-mic), general manager of the enterprise business unit so she's the woman who is out there selling these products to this very market and I thought you could perhaps tell us how what is going on here and what is Safaricom is doing.
>> Safaricom is the leading operator within the Kenya markets and we have benefited from a lot of good work done by the PS and his ministry. He's been visionary in terms of leading the driving and getting a lot of broadband into the country. Obviously with organizations such as KENET who have driven accessibility of getting the bandwidth into the universities has given us the opportunity to see how we can use this technology to actually make a difference just too dense in schools.
For us the opportunity we see at Safaricom goes beyond the pipe. We are the bandwidth has been delivered into the universities but now they exist a lot of opportunities for us to develop content in partnership with the government and with stakeholders who can be able to digitize some content, content being generated by the universities themselves and then provide platforms such as cloud platforms through which students can be able to access this content anywhere.
At Safaricom we have invested in one of the largest cloud platforms within the regions and looking how we can work with organizations such as KENET to be able to digitize content that is already available in some of the universities so that students can be able to consume it on the go.
Another key opportunity that we actually see ourselves playing in is in the role of availing devices into the market. We have seen through initiatives that have been cost-sponsored by the government, costs of devices coming down and students being able to afford them.
As the professor alluded, there was an initiative running that has been executed by Safaricom with the objective of getting devices into the hands of students because without a good quality device it becomes very difficult for you to be able to consume broadband and even have access to the content that has already been digitized. Currently ongoing in terms of getting some 100 e readers and tablets into the hands of students. This is the initiative that is actually being pushed very strongly by the PS himself. And it is something we actually currently are working on.
We are also looking at development of platforms through which this content can be disseminating to students either through web or platforms. Currently right now all students who have to -- trying to get university education are constricted many times to a classroom but through landing management platforms you can actually be able to offer online education where students can actually get online, have access to tutorials or courses through mobile payment platforms such as -- be able to pay for these content and therefore it increases access to a larger number of -- increases access to a larger population to good quality education and I believe then this just shows the power of technology in just bridging the digital divide and eliminating any social, demographic barriers that would prevent people from accessing a good quality education.
Those are the main things we focus on and I believe this is a big opportunity for us to use technology to make a difference. Thank you.
>> KATHRYN BROWN: Thank you so much, Sylvia.
I'd like to open questions to the floor but before I do that, I know, sir, you have another panel you need to get to. I thought you'd like to say a word or two.
>> I just wanted to say one example, maybe take one question and then I go. There's another panel downstairs. These things work. I do what I normally call ISR, Individual Social Responsibility. I took computers to six rural schools. These schools normally take two to three kids to invest and in the past two years, they have taken up to 15 kids after providing e content and computers. I have not done any study to see whether that may change but the change happened after providing this. That's how I know that truly they make a change because you provide materials that are not available to these students.
I will stop there. Maybe one question or two, then I leave.
>> My friend, that is what you are paid to do!
You ask me to get you through content!
>> (Speaking off-mic).
>> Yeah, maybe a comment. I know Dr. Ndemo said there was a price once you had broadband but I work in universities so I do know that it's a big challenge between what you say you want and what you get.
KENET is a catalytic organization because the other responsibilities of the universities but we have a catalytic role. For example, right now we are working with university for content on online learning to support in girls in 500 kilometers north of Kenya. We are finding some -- we give small grants to faculty, specifically working with two universities right now for them to develop innovative projects and the idea is that the vice-chancellor of those universities will be transformed and provide leadership and so what we do next is that we hold an annual conference, forum for the leadership, and we talk about these things.
The idea is to transform them so they can transform your life.
>> As a teacher myself, what I used to do in Nairobi, all my lessons were online and some materials. The entire class found it very convenient to do that and they actually started now doing, getting more materials. So you have actually -- an individual responsibility, forget about these -- (unintelligible) -- they are very busy, do it yourself!
And you begin from there, then it grows.
>> KATHRYN BROWN: You all know why everyone is calling for the doctor to go to the next panel!
So thank you for your wisdom. Maybe a little round of applause and then we'll continue the conversation.
>> Good morning. My name is Soulemayne. I'm from Nigeria. The issue you raised is a serious matter. Even the question of my friend is also similar to what. Now, my question is this: We have a good size for us in terms of bandwidth but it's not sufficient. It's too low for us. We are trying to go to 20 mg but the problem is such a culture within the system, academic system, that they are finding it difficult to bring the account -- we have started something like online, I mean, online system for past three or four years. It is only about one or two courses that are been able to go on that system. Those two courses are just on the first-year level and other courses add 200, master's that are supposed to go on that system. But we discover the lecturers, assistant to changes of such, so I want to ask from professor, because we -- IT system.
I want to have the professor, maybe to have -- use to be able to encourage or force the lecturers to try to bring up their contents online. Thank you.
>> KATHRYN BROWN: So, Mark, maybe you can take this one.
>> MARK OLWENY: Thank you very much. I would like to actually congratulate Nigeria as a whole for going out of the way to try to put their content online. As a country they have actually done quite well. I would encourage the rest of Africa to do the same thing. Amazing what you can find from Nigeria now. That project should be encouraged.
In terms of the social cultural issues you raised, yes, it is big and real and we can't pretend it doesn't exist.
In every country around the world, that was an initial problem. Number of countries actually had training sessions and courses for instructors to help them make that transition. Not something that will happen overnight, not something that we can force people to do. You have to encourage them to do it. In a way it's a slow process. It helps if your course or your program is already geared to that. Trance translating into electronic content is difficult. You need encouragement for that. But the basic line comes from one thing. It needs a real change in mind set. Chalk and talk to electronic presentation is a complete change in the way you teach, research your work and present it. So it takes a while and will require younger stuff in some cases, it will require carrot and stick in other cases but it will come.
It won't happen overnight.
>> KATHRYN BROWN: Yes?
>> (Speaking off-mic).
>> KATHRYN BROWN: Yes?
>> Hello. I'm from Sri Lanka and I'm an online tutor and previously I was attached to the university commission in Sri Lanka so my question to the panel is one speaker mentioned students carry their own laptop to the university so in Sri Lanka the higher education is totally free, including medicine and engineering.
So people that come in are not that affluent and they live on the things that are given and they send it home to their parents so the affordability of laptop in minute although broadband connection is there, like right across the island, affordability of the student to bring a laptop to the university is small, maybe about 2% of the students who come from the city areas could afford it.
So my question is whether higher education is free or paid to the two speakers from the two countries and the other question is related to content. I appreciate from the audience that they mentioned probability of uploading content by lecturers is good. Some courses in engineering, they upload content but with regard to arts courses, humanities and social sciences, even there are projects promoting them to upload content especially for distance education, probability is very small and some lecturers don't even want to do it because they sometimes have -- so they don't want to lose their students or don't want to upload content. I'm just explaining the situation in the country and I would like to learn from the panel as well more on that.
>> KATHRYN BROWN: Okay.
>> The situation in Kenya is not so different and that is especially in terms of -- (unintelligible) -- About 100% of students are a mobile phone and we now estimate probably 80% of these phones are Internet-enabled. In fact we have not counted recently yet but there is a significant number that is of Smart Phones. But in terms of PCs, we estimate -- our estimate is that unless -- it's just about 5% of the students have their own laptops. And the university education in Kenya is not free. It is -- but about 50% of the student population is sponsored by the government, government scholarships and then they get a loan which they pay, especially for living expenses.
Many of those students will buy a computer as an entertainment device and we are trying to get those devices to become -- to join the network.
>> KATHRYN BROWN: Three of the panelists here are using pads wirelessly --
-- there is nothing! This is wirelessly. And I would suggest to you that something else is happening which I am seeing in my own country where the students are moving from the PC to wireless devices that are larger than a Smart Phone, smaller than a PC and as the price comes down of these things I think we probably need to get ready for what that means in the classroom.
Walda, I think you had something you wanted to add.
>> WALDA ROSEMAN: Yes. I just wanted -- and this emphasizes I think a point we did that many, many, many years ago -- and I won't tell you how many -- my first professional job was as a journalist covering education for school administrators and I did a report called "Educational Technology."
In those days the favorite technology was cable television in the United States because there was a free channel for educators. They were very excited about it. When I started calling around to see what they were doing with it, with very few exceptions, the answer was nothing. Now, the reason it was nothing was, first of all, administrative policies like there is the audio visual cost. You can use it but if you break it, you pay for it.
I'm not saying that's necessarily good, but the other reason was that they didn't want to be embarrassed in front of the students who knew more about it than they did.
The point I want to make here is that the technology has changed but human nature has not. Time remains relative to how busy you are. So in terms of facilitating, trying to facilitate greater university administrative and faculty engagement in using the technology and putting online their curriculum, the training that is going on at the digital bridge institution I think is a very, very important illustration of the kind of intensive training away from the students that needs to happen but I would also say in those instances that those ages ago in the 20th century where I did this report, the schools that were really using it were the ones where the faculty was willing to partner with the students to get it done. So that's the second point.
The third point I would make is that if and when your universities are applying for grants and assistance in transforming what they're doing to an Internet and broadband age, I would suggest that you be very clear about how perhaps being able to hire people to bring more of the curriculum online, bring more of the administration online, to build larger cybercafes in the universities that would be part of the assistance that you are seeking, certainly as a transitional matter.
>> KATHRYN BROWN: So I saw one more person with a comment, actually I see a couple. We are getting to the end of our time so I thought we should probably try to keep this short and then like to just allow any other panelists who want a further word.
One, two, and then we'll wrap up. Okay. Thank you.
>> Just very quickly. I would like to support what has been already said on changing mindset. I'm (off-mic), I come from Egypt, and from another perspective of developing countries, it's -- we sometimes put the infrastructure and then it's the responsibility of whoever received it and then they lock it. Not to have it broken, not to have it lost. So it's the mindset. Very two quick remarks. I think it is very important to stress on the demand side and to create the demand side. It's not enough to put the infrastructure in place because if there is demand this would encourage the operators to invest in the infrastructure and this would create a sustainable business model and also encourage the users themselves to find the way to afford to pay the service.
One final comment. I think broadband in a broader perspective has to be a national agenda and not only an ICT agenda to make sure that the positive fits in.
>> KATHRYN BROWN: Thank you.
So very quickly, I hope.
>> Just wanted to share the experience that we have been delivering online courses even before 2000, especially in the developing world, and you can imagine broadband at this time and till quite challenging sometimes in these days but if you -- you can find a way if you base the approach on text and then bring video when you can and so on. Much more in the culture of education and somehow spreading this ICTs should be helpful even if there is a low bandwidth and what we usually do, and that may be some suggestion for the others, is that the senior professors are usually quite reluctant to come up with up loading documents and these online frameworks.
So we give recruit the best students from previous years to be junior assistants. They help with uploading, tutoring, doing online chat sessions and then the seniors are jumping in with their expertise and assistance. That might be also useful in university models.
I don't see the problem doing it offline as well.
>> KATHRYN BROWN: Very good. Thank you. So let me just ask our panelists if they have one more sentence, two more sentences, and then applaud everyone. Sylvia?
>> I think I'll quickly say one of the things that needs to be done to overcome resistance to change is lecturers need to be reassured jobs are not at risk because they probably think with the coming or the advent of offline technology they stand to lose their jobs.
The other thing is probably just to celebrate the students of online learning. I got some feedback from one of our content providers, cyberschools where we were told the best biology student last year was actually using digital content to LAN, a digital content so probably if we celebrate these students we'll be able to drag this from the demand side and get more uptick coming from consumers which then drives the supply side and then everyone becomes a winner in this equation. Thank you.
>> WALDA ROSEMAN: Thank you. I certainly would support that, and I would just note here that training, preparation, that begins with the universities even before there is broadband because time goes by quickly. I think there would be those of you who would find that the demand that you think you have now and therefore what you're scaling in terms of requests to ISPs and operators will actually disappear or be far smaller than ultimately what you're going to need once you are into a transformative stage by a few years so I, in East Africa, I think that with some exceptions, we see a situation which is not unusual which is that supply is driving demand. And at some point demand will drive supply.
Will the supply at that point be adequate? I would say it would be useful to try to reverse that.
>> KATHRYN BROWN: Thank you. Mark?
>> MARK OLWENY: There was a question and I'll answer that first about what happens in Uganda. We heard from Kenya. Only about I think -- maybe I stand to be corrected -- but only about 2,000 to 3,000 in Uganda are government-sponsored and even that only pretty much carries tuition. So majority of students are fee-paying. They come to university is a bit different from Sri Lanka.
But I think the reason why there's such a large uptick of IT has to do with the perception of higher education, a key force in driving demand. If the students accept that it is a big thing they will actively go out to do something about it. That is what we generally see happen, at least in the university I am in. We have a better chance of moving to the demand-driven.
>> PROF. MEOLI KASHORDA: I think in conclusion I would say that in Kenya, we have kind of solved the big part of the infrastructure puzzle but it is just the beginning because what we see is that obviously from the students' perspective there is unlimited demand for bandwidth from the students, but in terms of transforming the way we do things, we education and the way we research, that is where our effort is now going to be and we work with partners in other areas in this space, people who are doing learning technologies and see how it can be used to transform education.
>> KATHRYN BROWN: So I think from the beginning of education, beginning of universities in this world, it's been the universities who have led the huge transformations. It's the learning that happens there that foreshadows the whole next phase of civilization.
And we are now in the Information Age, Electronic Digital Age, and it will be the universities, as hard as it seems at this moment, who will lead the transformation of our societies, of this productivity that the Secretary talked about that is so important, getting more for the work we're doing, for individual folks and it's your students who are going to change the world.
I really want to applaud this panel and thank each of them for their contribution, and all of you, and let's give them a round of applause. Thank you.