In Africa’s most iconic lands, gearing up for a life-changing edtech experience.
EDTECH+WILDTECH | by Lou August with Victor Rivero
The United Nations identified that improving education and economic development are the two most significant factors in improving the lives of children. Nowhere in the world is education and economic development more in need of improvement than in rural areas of Africa.
During the summer of 2023, the Wilderness Technology Alliance (WTA) is convening a 15-day technology service-learning program in rural Tanzania, East Africa.
Our goal is to create alternatives to subsistence farming jobs by improving education and creating new career pathways in technology. We will accomplish this through technology access, teacher training, vocational training, and facilitating technology entrepreneurship in two high schools and five vocational schools in the Northern Zone of Tanzania.
‘Our goal is to create alternatives to subsistence farming jobs…through technology access, teacher training, vocational training, and facilitating technology entrepreneurship in two high schools and five vocational schools …’
In the process, we will provide life-changing cultural, technical and character-building experiences for ten IT volunteers from around the world — creating new horizons of opportunity for all.
Not the “Africa” Tourists See
This is not the “Africa” tourists typically see, it is a “deep field” experience, living and working closely with teachers and students in the traditional lifestyle of the Maasai and Meru tribes. It takes place in the most iconic lands on the continent of Africa: In the shadow of 19,350 foot Mount Kilimanjaro and at the epicenter of Africa’s greatest wildlife preserves.
In rural areas of Tanzania, students rarely get hands-on experience with computers, and when they do, they typically return to subsistence farming because there are few technology jobs in their communities.
Cycle of Transformation
WildTech solves this through its 5-step “Cycle of Transformation” model that addresses the entire continuum, from providing technology access to creating technology entrepreneurs:
1. The program begins by understanding the lifestyle and challenges of the people we serve by actually living their lives: picking bananas and coffee, plowing a field, planting corn and cooking on an open fire.
2. We will then build two computer labs in two impoverished rural high schools from 40 laptop computers, educational software, two LCD projectors, curriculum, and networking equipment we bring with us.
3. We then train 10 to 20 teachers in each school to deliver compelling technology-enabled curricula, who use those new skills and technology resources to create better-educated and digitally literate students.
4. We will also host a Cisco Networking Academy attended by 15 teachers from five vocational schools, providing a pathway for digitally literate high school students to learn advanced technology skills they can use to earn an income. Each teacher is awarded a laptop computer for completing the Cisco training.
5. Some students who complete the Cisco training will gain employment due to their skills, including secretarial and office work. Yet there are few of these jobs in rural areas, so we will then facilitate a pathway for students to establish and/or work in community tech centers, introducing needed technology products and services to rural communities (internet access centers, photo services, print services, more).
Implementing this complex model is no small feat. That is why ten top IT professionals from around the world have agreed to volunteer, donating hundreds of hours of preparation time each, then fifteen days in Tanzania passionately working long hours to help extremely disadvantaged youth and teachers.
Together, we will improve education in areas of extreme poverty and provide new pathways to economic opportunity through technology access, curriculum and training – creating new horizons of opportunity for all. Ultimately, we will provide $250,000 worth of educational hardware, software and training at no cost to seven Tanzanian schools.
July 15-16: Fly to Tanzania, arrive at JRO Airport
July 17: Actually working the villager’s lifestyle
July 18: Create computer lab at Nkoasenga High School
July 19-21: Train 18 teachers at Nkoasenga High School
July 22: Take a break in Arusha National Park
July 23: Arusha waterfall & travel to Babati
July 24-27: Cisco Training – 15 teachers/5 vocational schools
July 24-27: Setup lab & training at Kwaraa High School
July 24-27: Train teachers/students in village IT Center
July 28: Travel to Arusha, present to Ministry of Education
This technology service-learning program in rural Tanzania, East Africa will be the first of many more such expeditions in the coming decade. As the old movie line goes, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship—one between WildTech and EdTech Digest, between individuals in parts of the world with technology and individuals in other parts of the world wanting to connect to opportunities beyond.
For those who would like to help these efforts, all donations are made to the Wilderness Technology Alliance (WTA), a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, and are tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law. To see precisely what donations are used for and to donate, visit the WTA GoFundMe page.
If you are interested in traveling, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. We will help you fundraise for your trip costs, ideally enabling you to attend this life-changing experience at no cost to you at all.
Lou August is Executive Director of the Wilderness Technology Alliance. WildTech was founded in 1995 based on the principle that combining outdoor adventure leadership (the “Wild” in WildTech) with project-based learning in technology (the “tech” in WildTech) is a powerful combination, transforming the lives of both the service providers and recipients. Lou has years of experience designing and leading technology programs in remote, impoverished areas of Africa, Asia and South America.
Victor Rivero is Editor-in-Chief of EdTech Digest. In keeping with its mission, EdTech Digest, in exclusive media partnership with WildTech, seeks to recognize people in and around education for outstanding contributions in transforming education through technology to enrich the lives of learners everywhere—including some of the most remote and least developed areas of our world. Write to: email@example.com