The success of Camara’s efforts in Zambia in recent years has been contingent on a number of factors. Over the past few years, we have negotiated (and continue to negotiate) various obstacles that have hindered us in our goal to deliver 21st century skills to the country. There have been a number of variables at play in the implementation of the Camara model within Zambia. Factors such as infrastructure, skill level, government policy, finance and educational protocol have influenced Camara’s strategy on the ground. These aspects of the Zambian education system have shaped our efforts in developing a pragmatic approach to integrating ICT into education.
Zambia’s Minister for Education, Science, Vocational Training and Early Education, John Phiri, recently said that ICT is indeed a vital tool for boosting the quality of learning and teaching within Zambian schools. The country’s Parliamentary Committee on Education also recommended that the government adopt ICT into the school curriculum in order to bolster education standards. The chairperson of the Committee, Dr. Christopher Kalila, recently said “We are living in an era of technology and we can’t afford to lag behind as a country. We need to move with the times and we need to improve our learning methods and there is no other better way to go rather than the use of ICT.” There is a discernible appetite for development within Zambia. Central to the country’s ethos is the firm belief in the power of education to transform the socio-economic status of individuals through skill acquisition. While this belief has rendered the country susceptible to political gesturing since gaining its independence in 1964, it has also proven to be an opportune environment for Camara’s developmental projects within the region.
In order to Zambia’s education system, it must reach certain goals and achieve tangible results. For starters, the technology must directly impact the teacher/learner dichotomy by intensifying student engagement, which should hopefully, by proxy, increase student motivation. It should enhance teacher training, refining their skills and facilitating student skills acquisition. Ideally, the successful implementation of ICT into a classroom environment should recalibrate methods of teaching, shifting the focus from teacher to learner through an emphasis on interactive learning.
However, Camara have had to grapple with numerous infrastructural concerns in our attempts to implement our programme. Unfortunately, Zambia is afflicted with an insufficient, unreliable power supply (the government estimates that approximately US$1.1 billion is required to successfully enact their rural electrification master plan, which would aim to increase rural electricity access from its current figure of 8.8% to 51% by 2030). This, coupled with high internet connectivity costs, impedes progress. There are an insufficient number of schools equipped with adequate ICT furnishings, as well as a poor classroom to student ratio. The road network is lacklustre, and investment in alternative energy sources and digital learning facilities is sparse.
Camara operates within the social enterprise archetype, utilising business strategies to drive change. Thus, the needs of the end users inform our strategies. More to come on Camara Zambia soon!
Find out more about Camara Zambia on our blog.