We visited the Ukombozi school in Iringa together with our colleagues from the Finnish Embassy, Tomi Särkioja and Emmi Puputti and professor Matti Tedre from Tumaini University. The community had put together a great welcome, including a sign in Finnish, children singing and also lots of parents participating.
The school has been one of the beneficiaries in the global “One laptop per child” programme. Tumaini University students participated in a call a few years ago and won a hundred laptops and 10,000 dollars for the school. The programme has been running ever since with good success. Only one laptop has broken, all the others are still in use.
Parents and other members of the community have been supportive of the programme, and the teachers and the principal of the school have shown great dedication. Since the OLPC programme started in Ukombozi, the grades of the school children have improved dramatically. Ukombozi is now ranked 5th from the about five hundred schools in the district, and the schools ranking higher are all private schools.
I think we all agree that computers alone do not create this kind of effect, so one of the future challenges for the project is to try to analyze how exactly this has happened, and can it be replicated elsewhere.
We will now explore starting a Living Lab in Iringa together with Tumaini and Ukombozi, to create a research and collaboration platform to continue this project and create others. More on this after our next visit to Iringa in January.
See the story of the visit via photos in our Flickr gallery: