Four years ago, UNESCO gave Camara a small fund to make videos of our programme in Ethiopia. At 14 Haregewoin was one of the students who was a part of the video. She was excited to be a part of the programme and in Amharic, her native tongue, she told us how she had used a computer for the first time, aged 11, in a Camara Education classroom at Jerusalem Primary school in Addis Ababa.
When we planned a trip to Ethiopia in April 2018, we asked Haregewoin to share her story and experience with Camara in the fours years since we had last spoken. She told us how she had used the Camara Education computers to further her education, and how her teachers had inspired her to apply for a special programming course. She had gone on to win multiple recognitions, amongst them a scholarship to attend a university for nine months to study coding. Her most exciting news was that now, aged 18, she had won a place to study Computer Engineering at Bahir Dar University.
Haregewoin then astounded us all by presenting at a large Camara Education event in Addis Ababa, on stage, to over 1,000 people. She made her speech in English and Amharic, all without looking at her notes. We could see the confidence beaming from her, and she looked so comfortable. She finished her speech by telling the audience about her ambition to start up her own tech company and create jobs for her fellow Ethiopians. Watch this space!
Wilfrida, Principal of Ganjoni Primary School, Kenya
The Ganjoni Primary School in Mombasa, Kenya has a student population of about 1,400, leaving the average class size to about 80 pupils. There are only about 45 teachers for the entire school.
The principal, Wilfrida Odongo, is an early adopter of computers in her school. The school started with one IT lab in 2006, and they now have two labs with 30 computers in each. They are looking to expand further, so full classes can use the lab at one time.
Wilfrida’s concerns before putting in an IT classroom were based around cost. She was worried about how much electricity was going to be used and how they were going to supply and pay for it. There was also the matter of funding for the computers. The final concern was regarding the teachers. She was worried that her staff would not accept the big change that computers in a classroom would bring. She wanted to make sure they were engaged and trained properly so the children could get the best possible use of the technology.
With Camara Education’s help Wilfred solved these problems now sees huge benefits and opportunities that computers offer to the students, teachers and parents. The parents see how much the computers benefit their children, and it has allowed the Ganjoni school to be ranked as one of the best. Literacy rates have improved and the school has seen a resulting higher use of the library. Wilfred also talks about the teachers performing better.
These Ganjoni students are one step closer to receiving a similar education as their peers in the global north, giving them better opportunities for the future.
Lotta, Camara’s Head of Africa Operations
I had been with Camara Education for about six weeks when I went on my first trip. I had bought into the theory that computers could make a difference in the quality of underdeveloped schools. It made sense that computers and educational packages could change the face of education, but I wanted to see it myself.
I was in a haze of new job, new organisation and new culture when I landed in Mombasa, Kenya. I went to the Tom Mboya Primary School where I met the principal. Looking around his office, I was immediately drawn to the school’s budget. The entire budget per term was something equivalent to $200.
I then went to the computer lab, and that’s when it clicked for me. I noticed the kids were engaged with the technology in front of them. They were genuinely interested in the material. Three boys were engrossed in session of Maths-Whizz, a game that helps with learning arithmetics.
What sparked for me was these kids were getting the same opportunities as kids in developed countries now that they had access to technology. I hadn’t taken the time to appreciate how technology acted as an enhancer for learning opportunities. The lab was leveling the playing field and allowing the students to have similar life opportunities as their peers in developed schools.
Zemin Mulatu, a 12th grader in Assai Secondary School, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, is very enthusiastic about both her future and the future of the next generation of females in Ethiopia. She comes from a long line of women who had no access to education and were discouraged from attending school.
“Being a girl was hard for my parents and grandmothers. In their day, they were not encouraged to go to school. Life was very hard for females. You were expected to marry young and focus on family life. There was no time for education. One February morning, Camara Education arrived in my school with computers and set up an eLearning Centre. The world opened up before my eyes. We learn so much through the computers.”
Zemin had never studied subjects like this before, and she realised she loved them and was hungry to learn more. She found her fellow female students were experiencing the same feelings. A world of possibilities was opening up for them. Now they had a reason to persevere with full support of their parents. She wanted to create opportunities for future generations of Ethiopian girls by leading the way.
“The world opened up for me. I have dreams and hopes for the future. I want to study medicine. In particular, I want to be a neurosurgeon. I want to help others and believe medicine would be a rewarding career choice. I strongly believe Ethiopian girls have the ability to lead our country. I look forward to playing my part.”