Technology vendors Dell and Microsoft have been working to deliver classroom technology for remote regions and, in particular, into schools that have not previously had access to any form of computing technology.
Mamoeketsi School in Lesotho is profoundly aware of the importance of technology in educating and empowering young people. The school is located in Lesotho
, near Maseru. HIV/AIDS affects a third of the population and around 50 per cent of the school’s students are orphans. Most are familiar with poverty. Although the government invests 12 per cent of its gross domestic product in education – and the country’s literacy rate is one of the highest in Africa – few students have access to technology. Less than 5 per cent of the population has access to the Internet or even basic mobile phones with text and call functions. However, through the efforts of Moliehi Sekese, a charismatic maths and science teacher at the Mamoeketsi School, students now have access to affordable technology that is significantly raising their academic achievements and enhancing their potential.
After attending a Microsoft Shape the Future event – an initiative that supports access to technology in developing countries through partnerships with companies such as Dell – Sekese was inspired to see how technology could engage pupils in a dynamic way. She devised a project about native plants and herbs, requiring students to report to her by text message through mobile phones borrowed from relatives or friends. The project was a huge success, exciting students so much that Sekese found herself receiving text messages in the middle of the night. Sekese realized that the school needed to empower students with access to technology, but cost was a major barrier to this.
Mamoeketsi School wanted to implement an affordable, low maintenance IT solution to provide its students with access to the internet, supporting research and collaboration, so the school implemented a shared computing solution with Dell ‘zero clients’ and Microsoft Windows MultiPoint Server to deliver a lowcost, centrally managed computing environment for students.
As a result of its dynamic use of technology in teaching, the school has reduced truancy. While access to technology can be a big motivator for students and increase attendance and engagement in learning; it can be challenging for students who are slow learners. Shared computing addresses this by enabling the teacher to remotely monitor and interact with an individual student from the teacher’s computer station. Sekese says: “Children who are slow learners often feel embarrassed about asking questions in class and so they stop coming to school. Truancy has stopped being a problem since we deployed the solution because I don’t have to disrupt the rest of class or call attention to the slowest learners”.
“Technology Enhances Learning and Life” is one of the twelve opinion pieces featured in the eLearning Africa 2013 Report. To read more about the annual publication, please visit: http://elearning-africa.com/media_library_publications_ela_report_2013.php
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