The communities around the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) are set to enter the information age with a R2,5-million boost that will equip schools and a community centre with IT hardware, software and services.

Intel South Africa has launched several community projects in the tiny Karoo town of Carnarvon. The IT vendor is working with the SKA and the Department of Science and Technology to supply computers, educational
materials, teacher training and internet access to the Carnarvon community centre and five schools in the three towns closest to the main SKA site – Carnarvon, Williston and Van Wyksvlei.

These schools form part of the SKA e-Schools project, which will see a total of 10 classrooms and community centre equipped with ClassMate computers, teacher laptops, content, servers and printers in mobile
trolleys from SmartLabs, and free curriculum-based learning solutions through Intel’s recently launched Explore and Learn Education solution.

Each of the schools and community centre will receive a server for hosting purposes as well as internet access, while Carnarvon High School will also receive a mobile science lab from SmartLabs.

The teachers in each of these communities will be taught how to use the computer equipment as part of Intel’s Teach programme.

Intel’s director of High Performance Computing for sub-Saharan Africa, Hannes Steyn, says that for the surrounding communities to benefit from the SKA deployment, learners need to be exposed to maths and science skills from an early age, and communities need to be given internet access.

“Our partnership with SKA has been a blessing in so many ways,” says Steyn. “It’s not only allowed us to really push the envelope in terms of our technology, but it’s given us the chance to reach into some really
remote communities and give them every chance to get the best chance in life through getting a good education and becoming economically active.