January 14, 2005
The shock of the new
The scenery was stunning and the rural development sites we visited (with the UN's World Food Programme) were fascinating. But, for me, they were topped by a visit to a remote high school, a day-and-a-half's trip on rocky, unmade roads south of Addis Ababa.
As we walked up to one of the outdoor classrooms, we heard the voice of a Maths teacher going into great detail about the angles of a parallelogram. When we went in, we found the 60 or so students were all taking their lesson from a professor speaking through a state-of-the-art Samsung plasma video screen that would be way beyond the budget of many schools in the UK. The lesson was being beamed in from Addis via a huge satellite dish outside through a rack of Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB) receivers.
Headteacher Mohamed Nur Osman said there had been an initial adjustment period when the screen was first installed six months ago. Students had found it hard to keep up with the English used by the Addis-based teachers. But they soon got used to it and grades had improved by up to 45 per cent over the period.
These days students at Mudula Senior Secondary School receive Maths, English, Civics, Chemistry, Biology and Physics lessons by satellite. They have a computer room stocked with 35 Acer PCs. And they also have a handful of Dells which they plan to use in two months time to access the internet, also by satellite.
Apparently, every high school in Ethiopia has similar equipment (including the plasma screen), paid for by the Ministry of Education.
The technology and its application were interesting enough. I also liked the sheer excess of it all. If someone is going to provide you with lots of gear, why settle for a boring old TV monitor. If in doubt, go for plasma.
Posted by aheavens at January 14, 2005 5:34 AM