Apia, Samoa – The Samoa Knowledge Society Initiative (SKSI) is well on its way to being fully outfitted with the necessary accessories, thanks to the provision of more information and communication technology equipment and software.
About $190,000 US dollars’ worth of ICT equipment and relevant software, as well as internet connectivity, was handed over to the National University of Samoa (NUS) on Monday 15th March 2021 under the SKSI, of which NUS is a key partner.
SKSI is a joint programme of the United Nations (UN) under its agencies, UNDP and UNESCO, and is financed by the Indian-UN Development Partnership Fund.
The installation of this equipment will enable the functioning of the three online knowledge platforms that make up the SKSI, namely: the national digital library, lifelong learning, and the open access research platform and repositories. These will produce a user-friendly, accessible and localized platform providing access to full text, bibliographical and institutional information from Samoa and globally.
The Initiative is a crucial step in contributing towards Samoa’s vision of being a knowledge hub in the Pacific, and in fulfilment of Key Outcome 11 of the Strategy for the Development of Samoa, aimed at achieving universal access to reliable and affordable ICT services. SKSI seeks to establish an enabling environment for all people of Samoa to enjoy the fundamental human right of access to information.
“Access to information and knowledge is a prerequisite for building inclusive knowledge societies. Samoa’s population is exposed to living in hardship, with underlying vulnerabilities intensified by limited participation in decision-making at many levels. Information not only empowers people to make better decisions, but also allows them to exercise their rights, be economically active, learn new skills and hold their governments accountable,” said UNDP Assistant Resident Representative for Governance and Poverty Reduction, Christina Mualia-Lima.
The development of these online knowledge platforms is also timely in light of the restrictions brought about by COVID-19 as they can open up new ways of working, especially in the sphere of education. Not only does it allow Samoan citizens to remotely access learning materials, but it also promotes local research initiatives and knowledge sharing of locally produced literature.
“NUS has not only contributed to the implementation of this project but it has also aligned its plans to support the knowledge society initiative. To enable access to education for everyone, we have adopted a multi modal approach – investing in a broad range of technologies for learning delivery. We now have in our suite of technologies: radio, TV, online and offline thus ensuring that no learner is left behind. Furthermore, NUS will also be launching shortly a lifelong learning initiative in collaboration with COL – Coursera, Google, Udemy to provide learning opportunities for those severely affected by border and workplace closures and also offering opportunities to upskill and reskill,” said the NUS Vice Chancellor, Aiono Professor Dr. Alec Ekeroma.
The SKSI was birthed in 2018 out of a vision by the UN Resident Coordinator, Dr. Simona Marinescu and Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, for a multi-pillar project to promote knowledge-based sustainable development in Samoa, as inclusive knowledge societies are paramount for economic, social and political development.
“The SKSI allows us to look beyond focusing not only on the digital resources, but on designing knowledge societies and be one step ahead. Furthermore, while developing digital resources, we need to ensure that people make use of them so we can build on that demand for knowledge and awaken their curiosity and interest in e-learning,” said Dr. Marinescu.
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