I just came back from a six day trip to four villages in Kaski district. These villages are in the mountainous region outside Pokhara. My mission was to add educational resources like school wikipedia, e-books, and the learning activities, among other things, to the schools in these villages, and to show students and teachers how to use and utilize them to enhance learning. In the process I leaned a lot about what information technology means for these villages, and how it is being used for education and development.
A little information about these villages and schools:
Village Name: Magh Jaun
School : Tanchok Primary School
Number of students (approx): 150
Number of teachers: 6
Number of computers: 2
Village Name: Tolka
School : Himalaya Secondary School
Number of students (approx): 400
Number of teachers: 12
Number of computers: 2
All four schools have internet access, and are connected to each other and to a larger network of many other villages through the efforts of the Nepal Wireless project. So what does it really mean for these schools to have computers, and internet? â€œIt means that our kids wont be like us,â€ says Heetman, a teacher at Himalayan Secondary School in Tolka. â€œI had only heard about computers until we got one a while back.â€ Its not about a bigger change. For the villagers it is more about being able to do smaller thing, like reading todays news online, and being able to type a letter. However, we should not expect any positive outcome in education in these schools because of these computers. As a matter of fact, most of the students i talked to complained that, they do not get to use the computers too often. Why? I asked the people in-charge. â€œWe do not have enough people to who know computers to conduct classes,â€ they said.
What is striking is that the villagers agree that these computers, and the VoIP service will gear them towards development. The value of the technology is understood, at least in parts, that they believe that it is concomitant to development. â€œWe want the information and communication technology to make a positive impact on the village.â€ But is it? My focus were school kids, the next generation of villagers who would actually be able to make any impact in the village, and sadly young generation here are still far behind when it comes to using technology.
Its not all gloomy though. It is already amazing that these villages have internet and VoIP services. It is only a matter of time before they can really start using it for development. All four villages do have the right idea; use information and communication technology for development.