The Intel Education Service Corps (IESC) is a short-term service and career development opportunity for a select group of Intel employees to support the deployment of Intel classmate PCs in developing countries. In this blog, Max Glover, a sales manager at Intel, recaps his team’s first week of experiences in Kenya.
It’s always nice to be greeted by 40 smiling faces. And this is exactly what our IESC team found when we arrived at Kisaruni Secondary School for Girls in rural Kenya. But it’s especially meaningful after you’ve had time to think about what odds these girls have faced just to get to high school.
Kisaruni was opened in 2010 by the Canada-based NGO Free the Children, and the talented teachers and staff embrace a philosophy of “active learning” – a higher level of interaction, inquisitiveness and participation than one might find in other schools in the region. Technology was identified as a necessary tool to facilitate the progressive curriculum.
After a touching welcome ceremony, we quickly worked to get the classmate PCs ready along with the network infrastructure. As the girls had never used computers before, they could hardly contain their enthusiasm to finally get started. They attacked our lessons with tenacity and focus, quickly learning how to operate the PCs, proper typing technique, mouse control, and how to run programs. Kisaruni’s philosophy of active learning was in full swing now – girls that grasped concepts faster were the first to help their fellow learners; as a result the entire class progressed quickly without stragglers. Application of the basics soon followed, as the girls built a personal journal complete with pictures, created a research project, and produced a weather trend chart after inputting data into a spreadsheet.
Perhaps the biggest door we opened for the students was the installation of an eGranary Digital Library. Think of this as an offline copy of the latest snapshot of the internet – over 14 million documents, including all of Wikipedia stored on a 2 terabyte hard drive and accessed over a server. Because this remote school does not yet have internet access, the ability to research almost any topic represents a monumental improvement over their existing library. It was amazing to watch the learners as they internalized the impact of this resource. Imagine being able to instantly receive an explanation for concepts that had previously remained a mystery – this was what we witnessed, and it was incredible.
The impact made this week at Kisaruni was at the absolute core of what the Intel Education Service Corps stands for. Our IESC team converged in Kenya from three countries -Joe, Meg and I from the United States, Fergal from Ireland, and Tawny from Costa Rica – to introduce new technology that will enhance the learning process. It’s clear that the computers, software and infrastructure presented to the school will not only continue to be well used after our team has departed, but will provide critical tools to help the girls make the most of their potential.