ZAMBIA: New Japanese technology links universities

Zambia's two major public universities will soon have access to more research and learning materials, via a link between them using Japan's XVD video conference technology. The e-learning programme, launched in the capital Lusaka recently, is the first step in a government initiative that aims to provide higher quality, more affordable education to all citizens.

The universities of Zambia and the Copperbelt have been struggling with inadequate research and learning materials due to lack of equipment, the brain drain and limited funding. The University of Zambia, in the capital Lusaka, is Zambia's largest and oldest institution, and Copperbelt University is the second largest institution, based in Kitwe.

The XVD Espresso HD video conferencing system has created a link between the universities and enabled knowledge transfer between them. It is aimed at encouraging communication and resource sharing, greater use of distance learning and improved education quality.

Launching the technology donated by the Alliance Forum Foundation of Japan, Zambia's President Rupiah Banda said the more information and communication technologies were used in education, the more motivated and innovative students and teachers would become.

He stressed that education was fundamental to the development of individuals, "which translates into national development". New technologies enabled professionals the world over to share knowledge and experiences in order to overcome constraints of time and space, and could significantly reduce the north-south knowledge and information gap.

Banda said the XVD technology was highly versatile and could readily be deployed to all parts of the country for the purpose of delivering education. He implored the Ministry of Education to use it "at all levels from early childhood education to university level".

XVD technology is an advanced, appropriate e-learning method and, according to Zambian officials, this was its first launch in Africa. It is easy to use, affordable and requires lower bandwidth than alternative technologies. XVD Espresso HD was released in April this year.

Japanese Ambassador to Zambia Hideto Mitamura said the installation of XVD technology would enhance working relations between the universities. Lecturers would be able to interact easily and the technology could be extended to other institutions and areas such as science and technology to improve people's welfare.

George Hara, chairman of XVD Technology Holdings, said the XVD technology was an advanced and appropriate e-learning method for students at the two universities and also encouraged its use in schools and in areas such a tele-medicine and e-government.