In parallel to the E-Education and E-Training Task Force, a School IT
Project (SITP) has been prepared by the Ministry of Telecommunications and
Information Technology in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and
Scientific Research in 2000-2001. The SITP covers the pre-primary, primary,
secondary and vocational sectors but the first priority of the project is the
Primary School Sector.
In line with the reform proposals contained in the Primary School
Curriculum Renewal of March 2001, ICT will be first introduced as a subject in
primary schools – as from January 2003 - before being integrated across the
curriculum in 2006.
At the moment, there is only an average of two PCs and a printer
per school (with no Internet access) that are mainly used for administrative
purposes as they are placed in the Head-teacher’s room for security reasons. In
a few schools, the private sector/NGO’s have donated a Computer Room with a
number of PCs installed with educational software, etc.
There are however two private fee-paying primary schools which
have an average of 10 PCs per school and they both have access to the Internet
[Ref: Interim Report of the E-Education and E-Training Task Force, November
For the introduction of ICT as a subject in primary schools, some
330 ICT Teachers have been recruited this year and have started a 9-month
intensive Computer Proficiency Training Programme at the Mauritius Institute of
Education (MIE) since March 2002.
An activity-based ICT Curriculum has been worked out for all
Standards, i.e. Standard I-VI, by foreign consultants (Dr. H. Alles, Mr. A.
Taurisson and Ms V. Torrens) and local resource persons. The procedures for the
procurement of hardware, software, the establishment of the SchoolNet (national
educational network) and of a Data Centre are underway through a Request for
Information and Requests for Proposals which are being supported by the World
Bank as per the policy of Government.
The Request for Information (RFI) was launched by the Ministry of
Telecommunications and Information Technology (IT) in July 2001 and its deadline
was 7 September 2001. 37 firms/companies have replied to the RFI and a panel was
set up in December 2001, chaired by the Executive Director of the Mauritius
Research Council – which is, by law, the adviser of Government in Science and
Technology - with representatives of the Ministry of Education and Scientific
Research and the Central Informatics Bureau (CIB) of the Ministry of IT, to take
stock of the 37 replies to the RFI.
Mr. M. Pieters of the Amstel Institute of the Netherlands was
delegated by the World Bank to examine the 37 proposals from a pedagogical
perspective and he submitted his report to Government in December 2001 also.
Then, in April 2002, a Dutch team comprising of Mrs. Marjan
Vernooy-Gerritsen, Mr. Sjoerd Jan Spoelstra and Mr. Govinda Rajan, also
delegated by the World Bank, came to Mauritius to examine the 37 replies to the
RFI from a technical/technological perspective. The team submitted their report
Since 2001, it has been agreed between the Ministries of Education
and Information Technology and the World Bank that a Procurement Specialist from
the Bank would assist the Government to draft the Requests for Proposals (RFP)
which will be, in fact, the international tender documents.
Local and international resource persons (Mr. S. Rambelesson,
Procurement Specialist of the World Bank Bureau in Madagascar; Mr. R. Unnuth,
Director of the Central Informatics Bureau; Mr. A. Taurisson; Dr. N.
Chandrasekaran; Dr. Sukon of the Mauritius Examinations Syndicate and Mr. R.
Jhuree of the Mauritius Institute of Education) worked out the RFP and drafted
the international tenders, under the chairmanship of Dr. A. Suddhoo of the MRC,
in July 2002. The tenders will be floated for two months, as from the beginning
of August and after which, the evaluation and award exercise will take place.
A proper School IT Project Division is being set up at the
Ministry of Education and a Project Manager would be soon appointed to manage
and co-ordinate the whole project.
The Primary School Sector
As stated earlier, the first phase of the School IT Project is
focused on the Primary School Sector because ICT is almost inexistent at primary
school level and there is an urgency to introduce ICT at that level as the
Primary School Curriculum Renewal Project states that ICT would be introduced in
all primary schools and taught as a subject, whereas in the secondary schools
sector, more than 60% of schools do offer ICT as a subject and there are quite
well-equipped Computer Labs in these schools.
According to the SITP, all the 277 primary schools of the Republic
will have, at least, a Computer Lab with 21 PCs, two printers (one ink-jet
colour and one laser black & white), a scanner, a digital camera and a
server with a LAN. They will all be connected to a network (SchoolNet)
controlled by a powerful central server, based at the Ministry of Education,
through which Internet connection will be possible and on which server on-line
educational resources will be available.
330 ICT teachers have been recruited this year and they have
started a 9-month intensive training course at the Mauritius Institute of
Education (MIE) since March. Out of these 330 ICT teachers, some 270 will be
teaching on a full-time basis in schools while the remaining 60 will be either
floating ones (replacing teachers on leave, etc.) or will give assistance in
schools where there will be more than a lab.
Some 317 Computer Labs will be needed for the 277 schools and,
therefore, some 40 schools, which are among the most over-populated ones, will
be having two labs instead of one. Out of the 277 schools, some 90 have a spare
room where a Computer Lab may be set up whereas in the other 187 schools, a Lab
will have to be constructed.
The reason for having ICT as a subject in primary schools from
2003 to 2005 is that the teachers have not been trained to use ICT as a
pedagogical tool and many of them are not even Computer Literate! This is why
the next big step is now to plan, structure and organise the Training Programme
of ALL the 5,400 primary school teachers in ICT Curriculum Integration from
2003-2005 so that they are all skilled with the use of ICT as a pedagogical tool
in their classes as from 2006. Preliminary contacts have already been
established with experienced foreign organisations to support this project.
The Secondary Sector
For the secondary sector, which is the second priority of the
School IT Project, there will be mainly capacity building in the short term –
i.e. Setting up of Computer Labs (through grants to the private secondary
schools) and offering of Computer Studies/Computing Courses in schools where
there is presently nothing and increase the capacity and bring the
student-computer ratio in schools where there is already a Computer Lab to 1:1
and where Computer Studies/Computing is already offered.
In the state secondary sector, all the 39 schools are equipped
with a Computer Lab with an average of 15 PCs and the plan is to gradually
increase capacity so as to reach almost a student-computer ratio of 1:1. All
state secondary schools’ libraries have access to the Internet.
To date, all state secondary schools (about 28% of the total
number of secondary schools) do offer Computer Studies from Form I-III as a
compulsory subject; 75% offer it at O-Level/School Certificate (SC) and 25% at
A-Level/Higher School Certificate (HSC). On the other hand, about 77% of the
private colleges offer Computer Studies from Form I-III but only 60% of them do
offer it at O-Level/SC and 20% at A-Level/HSC.
Apart from a few priviledged private fee-paying schools, ICT is
not yet used as a pedagogical tool in the learning process in secondary schools.
It is however the intention of the Ministry of Education and Scientific
Research, in the review of the Secondary Curriculum next year, to lay emphasis
on the compulsory teaching of Computer Studies at the lower secondary level as
well as on the use of ICT as a pedagogical tool across the curriculum.
The Pre-school Sector
At the pre-primary level, there is only 39 pre-schools out of the
1,100 or so (3.5%) which have dedicated computers for children – Out of which,
only 7 pre-schools have access to the Internet [Ref: Interim Report of the
E-Education and E-Training Task Force, November 2001]. In the School IT Project,
the introduction of ICT in the Pre-school Sector is the third priority of
Government and it will not materialise before 2-3 years.
In the School IT Project, it is mentioned that there would be two
PCs and a printer per pre-school with the relevant educational software.
The Vocational Sector
The Vocational and Continuing Education Sector reckoned up to
16,212 enrolments in IT courses of various levels in 1999 [Ref: Interim Report
of the E-Education and E-Training Task Force, November 2001]. An enhanced
participation is expected this year.
Of the 151 institutions registered with the Industrial Vocational
and Training Board (IVTB) – which is the official body for the regulatory of the
vocational sector in Mauritius -, 65 do offer IT courses at varying levels,
ranging from short non-award courses to structured ones. A number of the
non-award courses are continuing education activities*.
The Vocational Sector will be the second priority of Government
(along with the Secondary Sector) in the School IT Project in which it is
recommended that a Computer Lab be set up in each of the Vocational Centres with
a student/computer ratio near to 1:1.