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 Education Solutions in developing countries. In this blog, Courtney Harrison, a Field Sales Engineer at Intel, recaps her team’s work with World Vision in Matete, Kenya.
“I want to learn. Can you teach me?” asks a young Kenyan girl who has just walked into a new computer lab at her rural primary school. It was this overwhelming desire for knowledge and excitement for learning that we encountered as we established the first six computer labs in Matete, Kenya.
This project marks the launch of the Spark a Child’s Digital Future initiative, a collaboration between World Vision, Intel, Microsoft, The British Council, GreenBridge Computing, and the Kenyan Ministry of Education to improve learning outcomes through access to education technology, training and technical support. Our IESC team had the goal to establish the first six labs and provide the training and documentation needed for World Vision to sustainably scale the project across Kenya and the region. Each lab contained 20 Intel Classmate PCs for students, a GreenBridge Windows Multi Point Server, and ten full-sized workstations for teachers and adults from the community.
In addition to technical set-up, we also provided extensive training for the lead teachers from each of the six schools. In just five days these teachers went from never having touched a computer to thinking of themselves as digital leaders for their community. Wikipedia proved to be the biggest hit with the teachers who could immediately see the power of knowledge right at their fingertips. While we focused on training the teachers, the students were too excited to stay away. Every day they would peak through the windows and anxiously watch us work. Just turning on a Classmate PC webcam and letting the students see pictures of themselves brought shrieks of joy.
On the last day we were working in the labs we made a surprise visit to Nzoia school to put the final touches on everything before the grand opening ceremony. As we walked into the lab we found three third grade girls giggling as they excitedly played a math game and two teachers creating grade books in Excel – and getting rid of stacks of graded papers and exams. While the lab was not yet even officially open, we could not have hoped for a better preview of the good work to come. That evening we went home with the great feeling of a job well done.
The grand opening ceremony brought hundreds of parents, teachers, students, VIP guests, and community members together to celebrate. Each school sent a delegation of students to provide entertainment. Students from Chenjeni school performed a poem they wrote about their new technology resources, which included the phrase “No longer remote. We are digital. We stand tall.” The pride of the students, teachers, and community was glowing as they left the ceremony and returned to their schools and the new computer labs. Our team left with a sense of pride as well and optimism for the community of Matete. We just helped to light the first spark!
For more photos and stories from the IESC Kenya Spark a Child’s Digital Future team, go to http://scdftech.tumblr.com/
For more information on the World Vision Spark a Child’s Digital future initiative, go to http://www.worldvision.org/bethespark