How ICT is changing lives in Tanga, Tanzania

by ACT

  • Posted on October 4, 2019

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“Those people who develop the ability to continuously acquire new and better forms of knowledge that they can apply to their work and to their lives will be the movers and shakers in our society for the indefinite future.”

– Brian Tracy

Can you imagine your daily life without a computer? How would it work? Would you manage? This is the reality for thousands in Africa alone.

Over the next three months at ACT, we want to encapsulate what we as a charity represent with three main core objectives: Enriching, Education and Empowerment. For the month of October, our focus will centre on how ACT has enriched the community through a variety of projects in Africa and what we’re doing here in the UK. In collaboration with Computer Learning Month, this week’s focus is on our ICT Project.

At ACT we believe that the main barrier to success is poverty. Poverty comes in many forms and in areas we may often take for granted. At home, school, work, the library, or wherever it may be, we can quite easily find access to a computer. However, there are many across the world who cannot afford such a luxury. In a world that is massively technology driven, computers are at the centre of progress. In response to this, we launched our ICT project almost 10 years ago to help to alleviate poverty of resources for people of all ages in seven community secondary schools in the Tanga and Moshi municipalities of Tanzania.

The project began with raising awareness and funds for new computer equipment in the UK. We were only able to do this through your support. An appeal was launched, and a trust fund created, which proved a great success. The first 20 computers were generously donated by Imperial College London, and further funding was received from the Department for International Development (DFID). We then rallied together a team of carefully selected volunteers to test and install the new equipment. The team was made up of those who have expertise in IT, Project Management and Organisational Development. This was the start of our project to change lives.

Before we arrived in the Tanga and Moshi regions, ICT was not even taught in secondary schools. Indeed, there was a lack of ICT facilities in the community; therefore it was hardly surprising that there were no ICT trained teachers. With this knowledge, we decided to take action to improve the skills of teachers and school leavers by providing ICT training and supporting the inclusion of ICT in the school curriculum.

Work initially started in March 2010, where the group of volunteers carried out a complete hardware and software overhaul, as the pre-existing equipment was questionable; workstations were missing mice, keyboards, and power cables. Wherever possible, the working computers were salvaged and restored. Additionally, the latest IT programmes, from Microsoft Office to Java desktop, were installed. A Local Area Network was set up, giving the locals access to the files and printers across different computers. Most notably, a key part of our project was the train-the-trainer program. Each trainer would be able to offer training to students and teachers in the community. Through this initiative, we were able to kick-start teachers’ abilities to independently train others once our project ended. In doing so, this fulfilled ACT’s mission to help vulnerable persons to help themselves, increasing self-reliance and autonomy in the local community. It was refreshing to see that the course participants were very eager to learn, having expressed appreciation of the volunteers efforts after every class and they quickly developed a sense of trust and mutuality of purpose with the volunteers. This attitude encouraged the volunteers and they looked forward to every day of the course.

Sunset over Tanga Port, Tanzania

As a result, this project strengthened the relationship between ACT and the local community in Tanga, enriching the community with basic computer competency. Across the seven community Secondary Schools in Tanga, 100 computers were installed which ultimately benefited around 14,000 pupils at the time. 155 teachers were trained in ICT and hardware maintenance. Since 2010, immense progress has been made. Now ICT is routinely taught as part of their curriculum from Form 1 up to the 6th form. Twenty-two students have been registered to sit for national ICT exams. All teachers are using the computer facilities for their day to day work. The impact we have witnessed in Tanga and Moshi is incredible, and it was a delight to discover that the progress the locals were making was moving at a rate faster than we could have expected and are using computers

Projects like this can only be achieved through your generosity and support. This is just one example of many of how your donations go a long way to see lives changed.

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