As part of the Education Technology Project we ran in 2021, we worked closely with a local secondary school for running focus groups and user tests. It is eye-opening seeing the conditions the students live in, when you compare it with what we have in England. Most students live too far away to walk in each day, and instead stay at hostels in the school. It’s a government school, so is meant to be free, but the funding doesn’t cover boarding students as it isn’t officially a boarding school. Since the government announced that all education would be free, many parents also believe that this should include living costs, so refuse to help pay for food or water for their children while at the school. Of course the teachers can’t just watch the children starve, and have to redistribute their already limited funds to help cover costs. The result is a shortage of chairs, desks, textbooks and beds for students, which naturally impacts their ability to focus and receive a quality education.
We also spoke with a teacher who writes textbooks, and he said how difficult it is to market them as no parents want to buy them for their students, believing the government should provide.
The secondary school recently got connected to the grid, enabling it to have lights in every classroom and the dormitory, and enabling activities and studies to continue after dark. A generous local businessman also donated a number of computers for the school’s first computer lab. It is a great first step for introducing the students to IT, but it is clear the resources are still very limited. With no projector, the teacher struggles to describe how students should interact with the computer interface. He told us about how when he first learnt about computers at school, his teacher spent about 4 lessons drawing computers and their interfaces on the blackboard, and only after that did they first see a computer. Even then, it would have been one computer shared between the whole class. They’ve come a long way, and I’m excited to see the school and the opportunities available for its students continue to grow.