Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town has inaugurated a new E-reader project to promote electronic learning in dioceses in the Western Cape and at the Province's principal residential college for ordinands. The project aims eventually to give students across Africa easier access to online lectures and electronic libraries.
Archbishop Makgoba launched the new initiative when he opened and blessed a new Centre for Reflection and Development at Bishopscourt, his official residence and offices in Cape Town, on January 28.
"We're continuing a tradition of a passion for education," he said during the opening ceremony. Bishopscourt has played a pioneering role in South African education, beginning with an exiled Xhosa princess and the boys of Bishops School in the 19th century.
Initially, students will be supplied with electronic readers or tablet computers to give them access to webcast lectures from Bishopscourt and other venues. At Bishopscourt, they will also be able to download readings, and at the College of the Transfiguration (COTT) in Grahamstown, they will be able to log into electronic academic library resources.
The inaugural director of the project, the Revd Godfrey Walton, said: "In the first phase of the project, students from COTT and students and ordinary church members from four dioceses in the Western Cape will be covered. In later phases, we plan to extend the project to cover the Church in the rest of southern Africa, and then to the whole continent.
"Currently, most theological colleges in the African continent have under-resourced libraries. The e-reader project will serve as a major electronic resource for students and clergy involved in academic reading and research."
Archbishop Thabo added: "Bishopscourt has a long history as an educational pioneer. The private church school, Bishops (Diocesan College), was established here in 1849.
"A decade later the sons and daughters of 19th century leaders, including Maqoma and Sandile of amaRharhabe and Moshoeshoe of the Basotho, studied here before the church launched Zonnebloem College in District Six. Their number included Princess Emma Sandile, a renowned 19th century writer of letters in English.
"Later, in the 1980s, Bishopscourt established one of the country's first electronic bulletin boards, used by Archbishop Tutu to circumvent hostile media reporting during the anti-apartheid struggle. It was here too that my predecessor, Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane, conceptualized and started the Historic Schools Restoration Project to revitalize schools played a pioneering role in educating black pupils.
"So the E-reader Project continues a strong tradition of educational and ICT innovation.
"We are grateful for support we have so far received from the Compass Rose Society, the Anglican Communion Office, Trinity Church Wall Street, the Motsepe Foundation and The Archbishop Thabo Makgoba Development Trust."