A step back in time and a leap forward for Africa

15th July 2011 at 01:00
Christine West travelled to Tanzania to find out how donated IT equipment was changing young lives

I never contemplated doing anything other than teaching. I had been in the profession, on and off, for more than 30 years. But one day I was approached by the founder of charity Computers 4 Africa and all that changed.

They asked if I would like to become education liaison manager, take unpaid leave from my teaching job and travel to Tanzania to see what happened to the IT equipment the charity sent out there. Four of us would visit a university and a number of schools.

Our first port of call was Zoom College in Dar es Salaam, where students study IT and also learn how to mend computers so they can visit schools and carry out repairs.

On our visit to Twayambe Secondary, we were met by the headmaster, who took us on a tour of his school. It was like going back in time to when I was at junior school in the late 1950s, early '60s. There were desks with ink wells and green boards with white chalk. Textbooks that had seen better days and would have been thrown away in my current school were being used by staff. But all the pupils were focused and well behaved.

Rugambwa Girls' School had about 1,000 pupils. We were there for the opening of their computer suite, a narrow room that housed about 25 PCs. I thought back to my own school, which had seven IT suites for roughly the same number of girls.

I came back from my trip knowing that I would be leaving teaching, but could still help young people by making schools aware of how they could contribute to a child's education by donating their redundant IT equipment.

If you are interested in donating your school's used IT equipment to schools in Africa, visit www.computers4africa.org.uk.

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