Sunday, July 14, 2013

Computer Laboratory for Rwamagana

African Enterprises runs a Center for Champions in Rwamagana, 50 kilometers each of Kigali in eastern Rwanda. It has 500 students in its primary school for street kids. Some of these kids are in their 20s already yet they have not been schooled. The school runs a fast track primary school in which students complete the 6-year primary curriculum in 3 years. It has designated a room for a computer laboratory but it has no computers yet - until we arrived.

We raised some funds among our friends and bought 10 computers for the laboratory.  We also bought a server, a router, 2 switches, and hundreds of meters of network cable.  The laboratory was set up in an hour.  We set up an e-library of hundreds of useful e-books on the server.  Now the school can teach with its own own local area network, even though it has no access to the Internet (it it too expensive).

And then we ran 3 days of workshops for the ~10 teachers and ~30 selected students.  We taught the teachers basic computer network concepts, how to set up their own LAN, and how to make use of the resources in the e-library for teaching.  We also taught the students, many of whom had not touched a computer before, how to make and edit movies, as a way to teach them some common but useful IT skills, and motivate them to learn.  We seemed to have succeeded - many of them refuse to leave even after the class was finished.

This evening, while we were cleaning up after the lessons finished, the electrical power went out.  The whole place was plunged into darkness.  We quickly whipped out 2 solar power charged LED packs so that we can continue to work.  It feels great to be given a chance to demonstrate a practical use of the solar panels.

The head mistress of the school, and several of the leaders of AE thanked us earnestly and beseeched us to come back.  It it gratifying to know that our efforts are appreciated. If it is up to me to decide, we will definitely come back to do more.

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