Computers for Lesotho

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How to more than double the online access for Lesotho University:

The National University of Lesotho would like to train more students, for less money. One straightforward issue is using electronic learning resources (online books and coursework) rather than requiring students to buy textbooks. This approach is part of a general move in university libraries from books on shelves, to 'learning centres' based on electronic resources.

But e-learning needs computers, and the National University of Lesotho (NUL) needs many more computers.

My partner 'Madibuseng and I are going to NUL next January (2008), where 'Madibuseng will help with nursing education (based on her 40 years of experience here in the UK, as a nurse and a lecturer in nursing). Nurses and other trained health workers are essential to all progress in work on preventing HIV transmission, treating the results of AIDS where prevention is too late -- and working with the orphans and families of the victims of AIDS.

I'll do what I can to help the library with learning resources. Probably the biggest thing I can do is arrive with more equipment. A 20-ft container holds 225 computers (refurbished, of good spec, and ready to use at NUL), and £11,500 will pay for the computers and get the container to Lesotho.

I'm pretty sure I know what I'm doing. I have contact (over several years) with several university libraries in the UK, and with the academic infrastructure programmes that support them. Nothing replaces good teachers, but online resources can replace unaffordable (and often over-priced and out-of-date) textbooks, especially of the sort that I've seen dumped onto the third-world because the developed world knows they're poor quality, dated, and low value-for-money.

Libraries for Lesotho: in addition to the university, I have contacts with local schools, and with a Lesotho organisation that provides adult education centres in rural areas. Some of these computers (where appropriate; many Lesotho primary schools have no electricity) will also be used, loaded up with open-source books, as low-cost bookmobiles to provide access to thousands of books, in rural areas, at very low cost.

So please donate your money to send a container of computers to the soon-to-be Learning Centre of the National University of Lesotho, to lower the cost of university level education -- and increase its quality.

The goal is more health workers where they are needed, but we're starting at the "point of supply": professional training.

Thank you for your consideration and support.

Digital Libraries at NUL

The NUL has recently organised a workshop on Digital Libraries called Greenstone. Greenstone is an oen source software and can be downloaded at Greenstone Website