Before: An empty computer room
For a long time the 300+ students and staff at our partner school, Stepping Stones Model Nursery and Primary School (SSMS) shared a single desktop computer and a laptop. Both computers were running out-of-date software and the school had to contend with frequent power outages. The head teacher of SSMS, Mrs Grace Udua, was concerned that students were missing out on an opportunity to acquire the skills required for active participation in today’s ICT focused society. In response to this SSN and SSMS embarked on an exciting new project, Computers for All, with a view to installing a solar powered ICT suite in the school.
SSN bought six solar powered computers, batteries and solar panels from Aleutia, a UK based company that specialises in ultra low power PCs for use in the developing world. To overcome the costs of purchasing and updating proprietary software, the machines arrived pre-installed with Edubuntu an open source operating system designed for schools as well as a wide range of open source software.
After: A fully furnished ICT suite
Working with Aleutia’s Nigerian partner LL Media, a solar expert and an IT specialist in Akwa Ibom the solar panels were fitted and the computers installed in April 2012. A photocopier, printer, laminator and binder were bought from local suppliers in Nigeria. In the same month LL Media trained key staff on how to use the computers.
The project was completed in time for the start of the school term and all the students have had a chance to use the computers. This is the first computer centre of its kind in the area and for many of the students the centre will be the only place where they are able to use a computer.
The addition of ICT classes to the school’s curriculum will ensure all 300 children receive ICT training appropriate to their age The school’s ICT teacher has also developed a timetable for teachers to improve their computer skills after school. Teachers and students have reported an improvement to overall learning environment as a result of the new teaching resources. Most importantly the school’s board has devised a business and marketing strategy to ensure the centre’s long term sustainability. The provision of adult ICT literacy classes is included in this plan ensuring that the wider community will also benefit from this project.
SSMS Students in their new ICT room
The only challenge at the moment is internet connectivity. The school’s rural location has made it impossible to connect to the major networks and internet service providers. We hope that in the near future one or more of these providers will extend its coverage. In the meantime however, SSN, and the staff and students of SSMS are extremely grateful to all those who have made it possible. In particular we wish to thank A Wa Po, The Besom, Virgin Unite, Aleutia, Jeremy Weate of LL Media and Ifacool Multimedia for the role they have played in transforming the lives of hundreds of children in rural Eket.