My computer switched itself off yesterday just after I uploaded the last batch of photos. Now it won’t turn on again. Bollocks!
Just as I was about to get started on a new web site to get people involved in the Brampton-Uru Link back in touch with each other. Now I will have to wait for my computer to be repaired in the UK, or replaced with a nice shiny new higher spec one, to get started on the programming required to make that work. I spent the last week on preparation and planning, so it really bites me on the arse that I can’t get on with the main work now.
Ah well. My computer is endlessly distracting. I easily sink into it and lose touch with reality. This should give me time to get on with other things which are really more important to me, such as writing.
Yuki is off to the US tomorrow. Her friend Sally is getting married next week. Yuki will be away for about 10 days.
I am going to go exploring for a bit while she is away. Not sure where to go. Perhaps the coast, or maybe the interior. We have been here so long, I am no longer sure what would be exciting. Maybe somewhere central like Dodoma. Maybe Lake Tanganyika or Lake Victoria. Getting on the road will surely do me good. Inject a bit of newness into what has become pretty monotonous.
I am having serious doubts about the wisdom of coming out here. When I look back at the time before we came out I was so full of hope and expectation. I felt I could really do something big and important out here. By the time we came back in April I had seen the writing on the wall for the Uru project. On return to Tanzania, the collapse of my involvement with the internet café really pulled the rug from under my feet, leaving me feeling pretty stupid. I was trying to get business designing web sites, but it wasn’t really getting anywhere. The one person I was negotiating with didn’t seem particularly serious about paying for his site, so I ditched the deal. The only thing I had going was a part time job with TechnoServe troubleshooting their computer systems. Not exactly what I had in mind when I came out here. Then I landed a column with the Arusha Times, which I am still writing. I guess that isn’t so bad, but what happened to getting Uru online?
After my initial shock and disapointment at discovering that the computers that had been donated to Uru School were either inappropriate or no longer working I was forced to look at the whole project again. After discussion with the headmaster of Uru school and others, I started to doubt that getting Uru School online was really of great importance
For a start, Uru school is short of basic textbooks that support the curriculum. An internet connection doesn’t feature in the curriculum at all. At the same time, internet access is available in Moshi from exisiting internet cafes. The people of Uru are only a bus ride away from access.
The internet connection required to get Uru online would cost around $180 a month. For the project to be sustainable it needs to cover this at minimum. But in order to do this, the project would have to charge for use of the machines, which in the end reduces it to yet another internet café. When would there be time for the school to use the computers for teaching.
Since the number of computers we would be working with would be reduced I don’t really see how they could be used for teaching – we would have about ten students per computer in any class – how much are they really going to learn in that time?
And finally, which is probably the real crux of the matter, is Uru School really in a position to use these computers? None of the teachers at the school really have much of a grasp on using them. Mansweth has taken some courses, but isn’t really at the level where he can teach. The school has to follow its curriculum as a matter of priority – would there be time for IT lessons? The school would have to be extremely committed to make a success of using any computers that were supplied. Should this be prioritised to the level it would require to be successful? Could it be? I am not sure that the commitment required is proportional to the benefits that would arise. Judging from the fact that most of the working computers are being used administratively (the headmasters secretary has two computers – she multi-tasks by working on different documents on each of them) or just stored in the headmasters office, I am not sure that the school is really capable of making that commitment.
I can’t forget that this was never something that Uru school actually asked for – people from the UK, including me, thought it would be a good idea.