It’s easy to take the technology in our lives for granted. Simple things like being able to look up the answer to a question, find a new restaurant, or streaming a movie can be second nature to many of us. For students and teachers in the Mara region, access to a computer or phone that is connected to the internet can open a new world of opportunity. Late in 2019, we achieved a major milestone by installing a dedicated and reliable internet connection at the Library and Community Resource Center in Nyegina. Since then, teachers and students have taken full advantage of small computer lab by accessing educational videos and materials.
According to Joyce Masso, the LCRC Manager, more than 80 students have become members in order to participate in computer training classes that are held in the evening. On some evenings, students coordinate to play videos on different topics and the small room will be packed with students. English grammar and pronunciation is an especially popular topic, as you can see in the picture below. Currently, the LCRC only has 10 computers and is limited in the number of students that can take advantage of them. If we can triple or quadruple the number of computers, we think we can serve hundreds of students per week!
The community leaders that envisioned the LCRC knew that digital literacy was an important skill in the 21st century economy, which is why the facility was constructed with two rooms designed to be computer labs. Filling those two rooms has been near the top of our list of priorities since construction was completed in 2016. Unfortunately, a couple failed grant applications and falling short on a couple fundraising campaigns has left the rooms without computers.
However, following the 2019 Kilimanjaro Climb two important events occurred while we were visiting our partners in Musoma. The first was meeting a professor from the Dar es Salaam Institute of Technology (DIT) that is originally from a small village in the Mara region called Kinesi. That same week, a new version of an affordable computer kit called the Raspberry Pi was released.
Since then, we have developed a plan with Dr. Matiko to work with him and his students to build and program enough Raspberry Pi 4 kits to fill the two computer labs. Not only does this new strategy achieve our goal at a third of the price, it also provides an incredible learning opportunity for students at the LCRC to learn to build and program computers from scratch!!
Once we have secured funding to purchased 30-40 Raspberry Pi 4 kits and ship them to Dar es Salaam, students at DIT will begin to organize the necessary supplies and travel to Nyegina. Once they have arrived, DIT students and faculty will work directly with students in the area that are interested in learning to code to build their own computer labs! DIT students will receive the internship credits that are required to graduate and students in the Mara region will develop skills that can lead to affordable computers being built locally and making their way into other schools in the Mara region!
This new strategy checks so many boxes and opens so many doors to future trainings for students and teachers, but we need your help to make it happen in 2021. We are looking for donors or businesses that can step up and fund this project ASAP. Do you know an IT business or professional that knows the impact technology can have on education? Please help us connect with your network by sharing this blog post with people you know that would be interested in getting involved. If you have more questions, please email our Executive Director at JasonM@tdsnfp.org
Don’t know anyone, but want to support this project directly? Please consider purchasing one or more Raspberry Pi 4 kits for the LCRC by using the following link.