News 2003: Quarters 3 and 4

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Report Elimu On Line Workshop 'Internet for Education'
8.3 Presentation Group III - educational/cultural

This group presented their findings by utilising the flip chart.    They introduced several new thought provoking topics including the impact of IT on the indigenous communities in Africa and the lack of an established curriculum for computer education in national schools in Tanzania. Their conclusions follow.
1 Problem: This group saw that there is much to consider when bringing internet technology into a village setting where the community has not yet been convinced of the importance of this technology.  One of the group members was passionate about the importance of the maintenance of traditional culture and that it not suffer extinction as a result of the introduction of modernity.
There was also discussion about the fear of machines that many people have especially in the village settings.
Solution: 1.   It was considered a ‘must’ that teachers be trained who are culturally sensitive to the community that they are serving.
2.   It was also suggested that internet sites that are relevant to the indigenous people in the community be utilised to erase fears of machines and also to create curricula that are suitable for each group
2 Problem: The group discussed the ‘digital gap’ or ‘digital apartheid’ that is now enveloping so many communities in Africa, and in Tanzania in particular.
Solution: 1.   It was determined that computer knowledge/learning should be part and parcel of the national school curriculum
2.   It was suggested that the Ministry of Education (with assistance from  relevant NGO’s and private schools), should come up with a policy on computer education/curriculum*

*It was suggested that a statement be drawn up and addressed to the Ministry of Education and Culture reminding the Ministry that several years ago they announced that all government schools would have computer education as a part of the national curriculum and calling for them to make good on this policy statement.  EOLer Gilbert volunteered to draw up the letter.  All members of the workshop are encouraged and welcome to provide additional input and suggestions for the letter.
It was also suggested that perhaps some kind of ‘credit system’ might be established to serve as an incentive for those taking computer studies in school settings.

3 Problem: The group discussed how there is often a problem of getting too many suggested sites (sometimes hundreds!) when conducting research on the internet
Solution: 1.   It was determined that a solution to this problem is to be specific about the topics one is searching for  (e.g. “colour patterns used in Maasai jewellery” as opposed to searching for “jewellery in Africa”)
2.   It was suggested also that community IT ‘bulletin boards’ be utilised more often
4 Problem: The group pointed out how English is the dominant language used on the internet, which can sometimes pose something of a problem for those not proficient in the English language.
Solution: 1.   The group pointed out that obviously people have to be taught English
2.   They suggested that it would be worthwhile to explore on line educational possibilities for learning English/additional languages
3.   The group also suggested that it is possible and desirable to search for Kiswahili web-sites and manuals*

* EOLer Alex pointed out that some of this information is already available on the EOL educational web-sites page where two downloadable computer training manuals in Kiswahili can be found.