OLPCorps Massey University Tanzania

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OLPCorps: Massey University “Target Tanzania” We are a husband and wife team from New Zealand. We have each taught and served as school leaders for some thirty years. I am studying towards a Doctorate in Education at Massey University. My area of interest and expertise is in leadership and in particular the creation of strong and effective learning communities that extend beyond the school gates in cross cultural settings. My husband is studying towards a postgraduate diploma in business management.

We will be the team leaders: our team members are two young male students, one an arts student and the other doing a graduate diploma in theology. My husband and I are very familiar with using computers in education and our team members both have degrees in graphic arts which involved technical expertise in computing.

We see this programme as a wonderful opportunity to develop a transformational learning community in a rural Tanzanian village where my husband and I will live and work this year.

We believe that children learn best when the education they receive at school is strongly linked to the education they receive at home. Where school is disconnected with home there is less likelihood of children experiencing success. But in many parts of the world the learning experienced by children at school is far in advance of their parents’ experience. Perhaps children can be a catalyst in creating the desire for adults to continue useful and productive learning?

This calls for ingenuity. We need a tool that will promote learning for both adults and children.

We believe that a computer for every child, in their homes, as well as school, is that tool.

Our proposal is to target 100 homes with 100 computers, via children in Std 1-3 at the Joshua Primary School in Magugu, Tanzania. We would look to extend this to another three classes in the following year, Std 1, 5 and 6, thus increasing saturation.

The children would initially keep their computers at school where we could emphasize the concepts of ownership and care. The children would receive basic tuition in playing games, word processing, emailing and internet searching, along with basic fault prevention and solving and internet safety. We would invite the children’s parents to become part of a home-school partnership where they would attend class for one evening a week for 5 weeks, covering the same skills as their children. During this time, teachers and other community members who may already be confident with laptops would be invited to become mentors, and local technical expertise would be engaged. At the end of the 5 weeks training, the children will take their computers home to share with one another and their families. The mentors will be assigned to groups of parents and their children so that those who are less confident have someone to call on for friendly assistance.

In the second phase of our proposal, children and their families will come together with their computers to share ideas in a fun and engaging way in after school and holiday classes. The families live in walking distance from the school so this will be very possible. This would be an opportunity to continue to improve their computer skills and their ability in English language. Parents would be offered enquiry based learning activities within contexts of high relevance to them, such as health, social issues, agriculture, and skill development in English language. This would be in CD or DVD form or as down loads from the server.

Finally, parents and children will be invited to write and present in powerpoint or in a word document a story of their own heritage that can be published on the web, on the server and shared from computer to computer. This may be a simple photo story with few words, as a child’s book, a short story or a photo documentary, for example. We would assist the mentors to give technical help.

Our work in Magugu is with the Joshua Foundation, and as you will see from their website, www. joshuaonline.org the school and the Foundation’s support of it is secure and sustainable. Our contribution through the “One Lap Top Per Child’ programme will continue after we have left because of the strength of this connection. In 2007 we trained six young teachers from the school in computers and education. I am confident that they, the Principal and the other staff will want to carry this project forward.