March 8, 2005
Two months ago, I walked into a remote school in southern Ethiopia and was amazed to see the children being taught via a plasma screen at the front of the class room. Lessons were being beamed in via satellite. I was told that every high school in Ethiopia was getting these screens.
At the time, it all seemed amazingly positive - an exciting and imaginative use of cutting-edge technology in a developing country.
If only things were so simple.
Two days ago, an Ethiopian student commented on my post about the screens.
At school the English in plasma is not good for me , It is too fast and too short, the supporting materials are not easily available particularly for those of us out side Addis. My teachers are not some times sure of the subject may be because of the English like my self. Most students are not happy with the plasma. We would like to get copy of the CDs so we could study at our own time. Please help us.
Then today, the Rev Andrew Proud, vicar of St Matthew's Anglican church in Addis Ababa, had this to say on his weblog Arat Kilo.
There have been two major impacts of this technology here so far: only those who have good English are able to keep up with the lessons, most students are beginning to feel left behind; and the teachers have become supervisors and technicians, turning the equipment on and off at the beginning and end of each session. The students even refer to them as DJs.
It is a useful cautionary tale for tech cheerleaders like me who automatically assume that hi-tech advances are good things in themselves. It is also something that Bono might want to consider before pushing on with his plan to connect every Ethiopian school and hospital to the internet.
Maybe we should be looking for something lower-tech, something that actually works.
Posted by aheavens at March 8, 2005 6:56 AM