One of the major problems facing developing countries today is the issue of the ‘digital divide’, or the ability of individuals to utilize modern information technology to evaluate and interpret information. Bolstering digital literacy in developing countries is central to the work that Camara does. In partnership with Dell, we have undertaken a ‘global recycling initiative’, whereby companies can donate their old technology to be reused in youth education programs in developing countries.
Generally, companies tend to replace their IT equipment every three years or so, with the supplanted technology usually still fully functional. Camara, working in tandem with Dell, gives customers an avenue to safely and sensibly dispose of their old technology while simultaneously allowing them to reach their sustainability goals, as illustrated in the informative video below, produced by Dell.
As there is often no concrete solution for dealing with extraneous technology, companies can often be quite wary about the donation process. However, the benefits of the approach taken by Dell’s non-profit partner Camara are manifold. Not only does the donation of old technology benefit students in developing countries immensely by meeting their education needs, it also allows the donors to responsibly dispose of technology that is no longer useful to them. Through this model, donors can build rewarding relationships with the schools in question: tracking how their products are used while involving their employees in an altruistic, mutually beneficial program.
The main thrust of Camara’s efforts abroad involves the upskilling of teachers in developing countries. Assisting them with their foray into digital literacy gives them the confidence required to use information technology in a classroom environment, which in turn gives the students themselves the confidence to pursue their education within an entirely new and exciting framework. The work of Camara is therefore not just about the technology itself but how that technology can be used constructively in an academic context. For students in developing countries, education through IT broadens their horizons immeasurably. By integrating children into a vast global network, they become exposed to new curricula, new schools and new cultures. Access to online tools like Wikipedia opens their eyes to the world, encouraging entrepreneurship and creativity.
Improving education through used technology is also incredibly beneficial to students with special needs. The potential of educational technology allows these children to transcend physical barriers to learning; programs championing interactivity encourage students with special needs to actively engage with their education. More often than not, students with special needs have never before been exposed to information technology, and the stimulating nature of these programs (the sights, sounds, colours and games) means the students take to them enthusiastically. This offers them a unique gateway into learning. For example, deaf children begin to learn of other kinds of sign language, effectively allowing them to learn new languages through IT. The inherently democratic nature of this program ensures that children in developing countries are given the chance to compete.
Camara’s efforts, through its sophisticated Three Year Strategy, tries to ensure that as many African children as possible within the next decade or so progress through their education with some modicum of digital literacy. Camara is a staunch advocate of digital literacy, a skill that ensures students in developing countries have a stronger hand in shaping their futures.