Africa Trip 2012 – Week one
Kurasini Secondary School has a plan. It has 42 pages and lots of detail. This government school in Dar es Salaam is not unlike other schools in Tanzania or indeed Africa; 1,573 students with 27 classrooms and teachers mean most classes contain over 50 students and some have up to 85. It is hard to see how a quality education can be delivered with these constraints, however it is ambitious. And it has a plan.
In line with the government’s objectives, Kurasini wants to focus on Science and ICT. Both the government and the school know that these are essential to societal progress, job creation and employment. So the plan includes very specific details on the construction of new buildings, laboratories, a library and a computer lab. However Kurasini has history on the latter.
The school was kindly in receipt of 18 PCs from the Tanzanian Cigarette Company (TCC) a few years back. However, the lab was not properly prepared (surge protection, security and furniture) and the teachers were not trained. Now the PCs are in the Principal’s office awaiting a recycling solution.
In the budget there is a line item for new PC’s at US$700 each. The plan is impressive, however the main problem is that the €250k required to deliver it has not been forthcoming.
In the last few weeks, Camara Tanzania was in touch with Kurasini. Now they have a functional secure computer lab with power protection and furniture. Camara supported them in preparing the lab and after the teachers were trained in how to use and maintain ICT in Education, 20 PCs loaded with educational software were installed. All of this was achieved at US$100 per PC, a fraction of the budgeted cost. Plus Camara is taking back the old PCs for recycling.
From meeting Ethiopian and Tanzanian Ministers this week, two things are clear. ICT is a significant priority for both governments generally and specifically in education. The second is that the challenges are significant and innovative solutions are needed to meet them. Kurasini’s plan is great however it predominantly remains a dream. Unlike the computer lab which has become a reality.