Campaigning for change

COMPUTING

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Image: John Mkumbo. By Hudson Kazonta
John Mkumbo

By Hudson Kazonta, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

A young school teacher in Tanzania’s Singida region is helping drive a project to equip schools with ICTs, to improve children’s access to learning materials.

The teacher, John Mkumbo, notes that ICTs are important for development – particularly in schools, where children can surf the internet for learning materials and research.

However, with too few people having internet access – 6 million in Tanzania, according to International Telecommunication Union, World Telecommunication/ICT Development Report and database – more needs to be done to take access to schools.

Mkumbo, a qualified school teacher with a Bachelor’s Degree in Information Technology, tells Biztechafrica this is what drove him to introduce a project aiming to provide computers to schools in collaboration Friends Family Community Connection. The plan is to take computer access to students and their communities.

Mkumbo says the project, which is known as “Rural Schools computer project in Central Tanzania” will help selected few schools to have computers for their students and is being provided at no cost.

The beneficiaries of the project will be students, teachers and the community who are living near the school, whereby will be provided computers which will be connected with internet.

He says the project will run under the supervision of a project supervisor and the head of the school concerned. Other stakeholders will be involved too, including students, teachers and community members.

The project aims to use computers to train students, teachers and community members and to serve as a resource centre for the community, as well as providing provide stationery services.

Mkumbo says the project will address two big problems in Tanzanian schools: a lack of enough teachers focusing on science subjects, and a lack of teaching and learning materials.

“Therefore with this project students can access materials and other resources if he/she has a computer. Using computer aided teaching, one teacher can teach many students at once. Another reason is because I myself I have a Bachelors Degree in information Technology so I felt responsible to help my fellow Tanzanians to get used to this very new Technology,” he adds.

Explaining about obstacles which can face him during implementation of the project he said, lack of enough computers for at least every school to have its own computer lab is the one big problem which facing many school in the country.

The project has so far installed one lab, with only 10 computers, at Gunda Secondary school. This lab too faces challenges, because it does not meet the full needs of the school’s 600 students. However, thanks to the lab, the students are getting some access to word processing, spread sheet and graphics programs and are able to search for materials and answers from the internet on their own.

In addition, teachers are now able to source supplementary materials from the internet instead of depending on limited books. Science teachers can now demonstrate experiments by using videos online, he says.

“One challenge is a lack of strong internet connection. Currently they are getting little and limited internet connection from Tanzania Telecommunication Company Limited (TTCL). The only alternative is to get internet dish,” he says.

Speaking about the cost of implementing the project, Mkumbo says the project is being rolled out in collaborationwith Friends Family Community Connection (FFCC) from USA, who are helping to get computers and other necessary equipment.

Mkumbo urged the government to increase its support to local entrepreneurs even in remote areas because they have a very big contribution in the development of the country.

He said also other NGOs who are working in providing the computers to school are being welcomed to work together with him in order to sustain the project and make many schools to get the computer services.



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