NORTEL Networks South Africa has assisted the University of Cape Town's Health Sciences Faculty with the establishment of a new computer laboratory by donating infrastructure worth approximately R2-million to the Faculty.
This comes after a decision by the Faculty to undertake an in-depth curriculum transformation in view of changes in health care trends in the country. Central to this transformation programme was a new emphasis on the use of information technology in the health sciences.
"The new curriculum will make extensive use of learning opportunities offered by general and specialised medical software, and will ensure that medical professionals are properly equipped to utilise IT resources effectively after graduation," said Peter Stutz, senior account manager at Nortel Networks.
According to Diane Stafford of External Development Relations within the UCT Development Office, the computer laboratory that the Faculty was equipped with was inadequate to handle the increased number of students, which the new curriculum was expected to bring to the campus. "It also wasn't adequate to deal with compulsory computer literacy classes and assessments for all first years and the increased amount of computer-based coursework in the new curriculum," she said.
The new laboratory includes a helpdesk, lab supervisor office, as well as security access and departure controls, and students will be educated in various IT learning areas, ranging from basic computer and Internet literacy to the use of more sophisticated systems, including specialised medical teaching and learning software and computer-aided assessment.
"Students in Health Sciences can now be trained in the use of information systems to enable them to access quality learning resources, receive and present quality feedback, participate in computer-aided assessment, submit work electronically, have e-mail access to lecturers, as well as engage in intranet dialogues with student groups, tutors and lecturers," said Stafford. "Without the infrastructure provided by Nortel Networks, these facilities would not be accessible to our students.
"This donation will also help expand our Faculty of Health Sciences' position as an outstanding health sciences research and education institution, both within Africa and internationally. Through this partnership, we will be able to cultivate a pool of highly skilled health professionals to ensure a major contribution to South Africa's health care needs."
UCT has been using Nortel's equipment throughout their campus network, and the new computer lab will be seamlessly integrated to form part of the bigger campus network.