At Uconnect we recently started also providing elearning in homes. We train women who sign up with our program to become agents of learning for their own families and neighbours. For the first project we partnered with CARE Tanzania, and brought computers to Dar es Salaam to provide elearning to low income inner city women and their families.
Hawa and Lisa explain the program to the first agents in the Chairman's office
A meeting in a Cafe helps to launch the first outreach
Lisa Stern and Hawa Jahazi met in Cafe Fairy Delights in the Shoppers Plaza Michocheni, Dar Es Salaam. Hawa's bright and beautiful smiling face caught Lisa's eye and, seeing she was alone, she asked to sit at her table. Hawa welcomed Lisa to join her, and after a time getting to know each other Lisa shared about a plan that she was working on to start an outreach of elearning for women in Dar by providing computers with elearning in homes of women and training them to be elearning agents from home for their own families and others living near them. Hawa told Lisa that Manseze, one the biggest slums of Dar, would be a good place to start. Hawa shared the sad story of her beautiful and intelligent young cousin, Msekwa, who had lived in Manseze. Msweka, was in her teens when she got pregnant, contractedAids and a short time later lost her life. Hawa said that she had always wanted to do something to help women, and asked if she could help with the project. Hawa and Lisa became partners in a program. The aim of the project was to make elearning and computers affordable to low income women, and teach them to teach other women and the children in their own neighbourhoods.
The first girls signing an agreement committing to to use their computers to reach out to others around them.
The local Chairman signed each contract as a witness. This helps with accountability.
First Steps in Project
Walking the narrow back streets to the new agent's homes carrying the computers to be installed.
Hawa's mother knew the local chairman Salea Kawambwa of Manseze Argentina area of Dar. The chairman, after listening to the program plan, welcomed the idea and arranged for Hawa and Lisa to meet young women community leaders who he knew had enough schooling and spoke English well enough to participate in the program. Four young women in their twenties were selected to help start the program. We named our elearning agent group in memory of Hawa's cousin Msekwa.
HAWA works in the marketing department of AZAM five and half days a week and comes to help us on her day off, She is a natural community organiser.
The first training of the agents in Karuthumu's family home.
Build a firm replicable model.
Each of six women agents in Manzese received a Dell desktop computer in her home with headphones and speakers. We taught each agent how to manage the computers and provided power surge protection since the local power supply sometimes cuts or voltage surges. After only two months of training each week, we began the Msekwa Manzese Computer Health & Life Skills Club on Sundays with training for young girls ages 8-16. We have also allowed some boys of the same age to mix with our girls for the second hour and learn from them. Skills that are being taught include English, computer basics health and life skills. The instructional library includes health care training videos on Infant Care, Nutrition, HIV prevention, Family Planning and Hesperian Health guide material in Swahili. The lessons are held in the home of one of our trained agents. All the agents bring their computers together on the day of the Club meet. The first agents were already earning money from the project at month two, teaching the basic skills they had only just learned from their own homes. One of the best ways of retaining newly learned lessons is by showing others what you have learned.
The second Club meeting in Pili's big living room.
At the second Club meeting in Pili's living room we doubled in size. We added another agent that day, so there were five agents engaged in teaching 18 children ages 8-16. We allowed some boys in too.
How we identify community leaders who can start other elearning agent groups
Agape is a strong English speaker active in her community, and leader of the local choir. She has worked for English speaking expats as a nanny for several years. Agape also has her own farm. She requested to become a part of the program so that she could expand it to the area where she lives. Her home is in a poor suburb North of Dar where many people commute to the capitol. Lisa went to Agape's home to set up her computer, and provide her with training.
Observations, adapting to the needs as we go along.
The first Computer Health & Life Skills Club meeting held in Nadia's home
We found that most of the people coming for lessons with our elearning agents are friends and close neighbours. This is quite a natural way to reach out to families of our agents and, through them, teach others in their neighbourhoods, showing them how to acquire computer and life skills, and provide access to highly engaging elearning content including health information. We found in Dar that most young people want to be able to speak better English, so we added English language lessons into the program.
Expansion and sustainability: Supporting distribution of computers and training of more agents on a rotating basis
FIRST FOUR left to right: Zane, Kuruthumu, Nadia and Pili. They are now a solid team and already helping us to train more agents
Learn and adapt as we go
We are learning fast what works and what does not work. We found that it took two months for the girls to have enough training to start to give lessons to others. As they were shy to begin with, we helped them to start a Computer Health & Life Skills Club where they bring their computers together in one place and work together.
We had originally thought to have ten agents in a group, but since classes are held in very small homes we decided to keep it at four agents per working group. For Tanzania we have added English lessons into our program as there is a high demand and need for that. We plan to add Internet training and offering online courses to small group classes to be held in our agents' homes. We expect that an Internet Service provider may wish to sponsor this.
Agape watching Kahn Academy from offline RACHEL repository
Hawa giving the technical lesson while parents and children partake in the exercise.
After six months of use, two of the machines went down but only one technical session fixed that.
One needed the CPU would not show up on the screen so Hawa explained the first thing to check is the cables and then the memory. Sure enough after resetting dims the computer worked fine again.
The other computer needed a new power supply which the children helped to do.
Mother of our youngest agent (Islanyi Juma age 6)
We found that most of the people coming for lessons with our first e-learning agents were the young children of the friends and close neighbours. It only took three months for these very young children to become e-learning agents themselves. We gave each their own computer to teach with.
The big surprise was that the younger agents (one only 8 years old) were far more active in teaching others. The average number of students that they teach is four other children on top of their family member and that happens three times a week! On weekends the time is often stretched to many hours of sharing e-learning together. This is exactly what we wanted to happen. Now we just need to scale up!