Overview of SchoolNet
School Net, a nationwide network of Ethiopia’s secondary schools, is the second of three phases by the Government of Ethiopia to expand the reach of the schools connectivity in the country. This network is under the Ministry of Education and was designed to provide connectivity for the more than 2000 secondary schools nationwide.
Currently, SchoolNet is managed by Center for Educational ICT (CEICT), which is the organization within the Ministry of Education currently with the national mandate to not only expand and integrate ICT in General Education, but also conduct research and development work to be able to use new and latest technology for General Education. Presently, CEICT is under the State Minister of General Education, CEICT started as independent institution in the early 1960’s as broadcasting agency focused on producing and broadcasting educational radio and television programs.
Today, CEICT has initiatives that are still centered on using radio and television technologies for delivering educational content to primary and secondary schools although there is a recognition and effort to utilize new and latest ICT tools.
CEICT’s main activities today include the production of curriculum based educational materials for Educational Satellite Television Program and also the Interactive Radio Program (IRI). The actual recording and production of the programs is actually outsourced to a third party vendors; initial programs were produced by a South African based company, now it is given to a Canadian based company and some materials are currently in production by a local company for the first time. It is worth to note here that there have been some intellectual property and copy right issues with the programs produced by the South Africa Company that impacted the ability of the organization to limit the use and delivery of the contents produced by the supplier, however the near future plan is to produce all the programs using the local capacity.
Now, as part of its efforts to enhance the quality of general education through ICT, MoE have designed a program targeting 300 secondary schools nationwide, which are already connected to the independent and secured SchoolNet VPN using 2 Mbps bandwidth supporting both data and internet. This program hopes to
- Enhance the existing in-class video learning service
- Establish a computer laboratory-based learning experience managed through a private cloud service, and
- Expand the reach of online-based out-of-class learning using mobile devices. An extension to this program will include the participation of twelve secondary schools in an innovative program to explore the use of mobile-based technologies for strengthening the quality of general education in emerging regions.
As part of the program, the following implementations will be conducted,
- There will be SchoolNet VPN network and will be connected to the CDC (Central Data Center) that will host a private cloud service for the schools and will avail all the networking and computing devices including servers, network & security devices and storage. After the completion of this pilot project , MoE will do a proper feasibility study and evaluate for having an independent data center for SchoolNet and may be use CDC or EthERNet data center as a disaster recovery site
- A network operations center (NOC) will be set up in the CEICT headquarters for the management of the private cloud services.
- Participating schools will have connection points to the SchoolNet network, whereby 2 computer laboratories with 40 thin client terminals each will be connected to a local server for both online and offline access to the private cloud-based educational services.
- Existing plasma screens in participating schools will have set top box (STB) installations as an alternative for receiving video on demand service (VOD) through a local media distribution server that automatically syncs video content from the private cloud.
- Wireless access points will be established on the premise of participating schools so that students and teachers will have access using laptops, mobiles, and tablets
Through this architecture, we plan to provide the following tools and services:
- Uninterrupted VOD service to classrooms with the option of streaming media content through local or central media distribution, using scheduling or the teacher can start and stop video whenever needed. So this project shall provide the Schools, teachers and students the privilege of managing the schedule as per their convenience. With the existing setup they have to stick with the central schedule and they don’t have the means to re-view the programs.
- Learning Management System (LMS) for teachers to effectively manage and execute their lesson plans. The development of LMS is part of another project and will be ready before the end of this project for integration purposes
- Private Cloud-based and local access to digital content and e-learning applications. This is an infrastructure project designed considering the current video content for the schools and future e-learning and e-library applications. Sizing for hardware and Network is done based on this and we believe prospective suppliers have been provided with enough information with this regard at different sections of this document.
- Access to external educational content and applications (i.e. Coursera, Khan Academy).
- Wireless Internet access within each school’s premise.
- Teaching tools and online training for teachers.
- Content backup as a service.
- Remote technical support & maintenance of ICT infrastructure in schools.
- Monitoring and evaluation of content and application usage by schools.
In order to successfully institute this program, MoE is looking for a supplier who can propose robust systems, procuring hardware and software, implementing, maintaining, and training human resources for the aforementioned education private cloud solution and service.