Deploying Computer Labs in Schools in Tanzania

Goal: Deploy computer labs for the first two schools of 14 in Tanzania

Project: Our latest Team4Tech returned from Tanzania in mid-November.  We were there with five volunteers from Intel, four from Intuit, and two from Facebook to help World Vision deploy computer labs.  The team also supported a week of business skills training  for entrepreneurs at the King’ore village Community Knowledge Center.

Everyone worked together to accomplish a very full scope of work in under two weeks:
  • During the first week, we trained 35 master teachers from the 14 schools, so that they can be the leaders at their schools for the new technology. Most had never used a computer before  and many had never even seen one.
  • We set up the first two model computer labs in two rural schools during the second week. We helped the master teachers in these schools train the other 10 teachers per school, and start using the computers with the first students.
  • We helped the youth entrepreneurs at Afritech create a business plan focused in IT training and refurbishing. We helped them create a logo, business cards, pitch deck, Facebook page and promotional video.
Here is a couple of outstanding moments from the trip:
  • The teachers who came to the master training traveled by bus from up to six hours away, and they slept in tents in the rain all week. Everyone morning they would emerge early from their tents, dressed in suits and ready to start the day’s training. Most of them showed up a day early and asked to stay for 4 more days after the week was over, so that they could continue practicing what they had learned. Such dedication! 
  • On the first day of our second week, we traveled out to the first two schools where we would set up the computer labs. I was brought to tears when we arrived at the first school in Ngarash and were greeted not only by the principal and teachers, but also the entire school committee (sort of like the PTA in the United States), the village council and many other local officials. They had the room beautifully redone with fresh paint and flooring, and were eager to get started. Many of the parents from the school committee stayed for the training, including Masai housewives who had never seen a computer but wanted to see if they could learn something to help manage their businesses.
  • When we went out to the schools the second week, we kicked off the first day by introducing ourselves and telling a bit about our families back home. It seemed like an obvious and innocuous bit of information to share. I was surprised when the teachers began to introduce themselves, and about a third of them explained that their children had died as infants or very young. Such a sad part of life in most places in this world.
  • The project culminated in the last two days, when the principals at the two schools brought in the first children to begin learning how to use the computers. Their eyes lit up as we showed them all of the educational games and content. As soon as we explained the children’s version of Wikipedia cached on the machines, the boys immediately began searching for Manchester United to read about their favorite soccer players. When we asked for anyone in the class to come up front to share what they had learned, the first volunteer was the youngest in the room – an incredibly bright third grader named Robert. He confidently came to the front of the room and taught a lesson on how to use the camera included on the PCs. The light in these first students’ eyes was the gold at the end of our rainbow on this project.
Future: Team4Tech plans to continue supporting World Vision on this project as they roll out the technology to the remaining 12 schools, and then look to scale the project to an additional 36 schools over the next two years.