by John Fitzsimons, CEO Camara Education
Top of my list during trips to our regional hubs is visiting schools. For all of the work that is carried out in Camara, and there is a lot, the rubber hits the road in schools. Playing with the kids is always such fun. Their enthusiasm and engagement is brilliant.
To test their Digital Literacy skills I always run a simple test. The first question- what is the capital of Ireland? It took them five minutes- Open Wikipedia, search the right page and get the answer. When I asked the second question- what country has won the world cup the most? – Twenty hands shot up with the answer, Brazil, immediately! The insatiable appetite for football in Africa always amazes! It is no surprise that half of the world (over 3 billion) watched the last world cup.
The other reason why I love visiting is to talk to the principals and teachers. Rule 101 of business is to talk to your customers, and I always learn. The capacity levels in most schools can be forgotten and visiting reminds me of the collective challenge we have to make ICT in Education work. Everything needs simplicity and thankfully we have refined our offering appropriately, however more can be done.
It is also great to get some feedback on the performance of the local hub and the level of customer service. Thankfully it was all positive from schools in Kenya and Tanzania. I also love the dynamic, we are usually showered with thanks, which would be expected in a traditional donor- beneficiary relationship, however with the Camara social enterprise model I remind them that we are the ones to offer thanks, as the school is our customer!
In Tanzania we have no shortage of customers. It was encouraging to walk into the hub and see the stock levels at less than 100 computers. They can have no impact in a store room, so it is great to see them going out to schools where they are much needed and appreciated. The team explained that their biggest problem was having sufficient stock to service the demand. They have a waiting list with some schools paying in advance to ensure that they don’t get bumped down the list. This is the best problem to have as it is validation that our offering is needed. So if you are reading in Ireland, Northern Ireland, England or the USA – Tanzania needs your technology. And lots of it!