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Pole pole is a Swahili expression for slowly, slowly and this is how we are tackling the task of teaching 50 very excited Moshi teenagers how to navigate the world of modern technology that is so second-nature to industrialized societies.
First, a word about how computers are taught in most government primary and secondary schools – functioning computers are a rarity as are computer teachers.  Where computer classes do take place, instruction is overwhelming “theory.”  What this means is that students are taught from some type of text – multiple students to each copy – or simply by directions and perhaps, illustrations on the blackboard. Therefore, many students who have supposedly completed some type of computer class have, in fact, never touched a computer.
So you can imagine the eagerness of our students to get started when they saw 10 Toshiba laptops that we were lucky enough to bring to Tanzania in our luggage without loss.  We began classes with the eldest “Form 3” and “Form 2” students – roughly 15 to 18 years old – who are part of Kiimahewa’s Qualifying Test program to gain entry back into some kind of formal post-secondary studies.  Although Microsoft’s Word was a natural starting point…. Not really!  We took a step back and instead began with Mavis Beacon keyboarding software.  The students loved the interactive learning and soon the younger Form I (think 8th or 9th grade) students were peering in the windows, begging to join class.
Tom Kway and Maya, one of our U.S. teen volunteers, teach computer during our summer camp.
This July, Godlisten, a Kilimahewa teacher, Tom Kway, EdPowerment’s Operations Administrator, and Shay Bell, a founder of 1Ndoto foundation who is living in Moshi for an extended period, are continuing to join forces to teach the entire school computer skills.  We are talking to several other possible funders to install a satellite and bring the Internet to Kilimahewa.  Again, pole pole.  It’s amazing how young people learn about Facebook before they even understand the World Wide Web as a learning tool!  We are determined to educate our students on the educational and informational aspects of going online before venturing to the social outlets.
Godlisten and Shay guide students through keyboarding exercises.
So there’s the gist of how we are bringing the world – hopefully the best of the world – to Kilimahewa’s youth.  We hope that those who want to learn can check out a book to stimulate their thinking at home. Then, computer access will stimulate and satisfy their curiosity at school, offering new levels of understanding and paths for their future.