Each school receives 20 PCs equipped with our eLibrary and a maintenance contract which lets us provide support and training for teachers and school staff. This means that students get the benefits of digital education from day one. We monitor our impact in schools and will continue to update our progress as we learn more.
If you would like to find out more you can read our Malawi Monitoring and Evaluation Reports.
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This year we were privileged to host an inspiring student from the University of Edinburgh, Madhu Sivaraman, who undertook his dissertation looking at ICT policy implementation in Northern Malawi. This involved questionnaires with teachers and headteachers from 16 schools and provided a valuable, independent insight into our work to date in Malawi.
From his research, Madhu identified some key issues faced by schools in Northern Malawi in integrating ICT into their teaching:
- Lack of Electricity and Infrastructure Support
- Lack of qualified ICT teachers and availability
- Scarcity of learning resources
- Lack of policy planning and ICT priority at school level: Poor understanding of ICT among school administrators and management
- Lack of financial support
- Curriculum limitations
His recommendations reinforce the need to provide effective teacher training in ICT and ensuring community engagement. He has also identified the need for organisations to work together to maximise their impact and to engage in working with government department to support access to infrastructure such as broadband connections and to ensure that our initiatives are aligned with the curriculum in Malawi.
You can read his full report here.
Nkhomboli Community Day Secondary School is a fantastic example of a school where we’ve set up a full lab and local area network, enabling students and teachers to share files from PC to PC without USB sticks. We delivered training to the teachers and school staff on how to carry out basic maintenance on the PCs and how to use them in lessons.
Reactions from the teachers have so far been very positive, with one, Mr Minthali saying:
“It is wonderful for a rural school to have a computer lab, which we were not expecting. We thank CYD for the commendable job they are doing.”
Students from Nkhomboli have also been positive about introduction of computers, believing that their grades will improve with access to our eLibrary software and this new platform to study.
Lura Community Day Secondary School were delighted with their new hardware. Headteacher Mr Phiri is very enthusiastic about the possibilities the new IT equipment will bring, and how the new Local Area Network will enable them to make use of printers and scanners to help with their lessons. He was also happy that the IT will equip the students with the computing skills they’ll need in the future.
The students at Lura said the new computers are a good starting point to learn how to use these complex machines. The students said learning word processing skills and how to navigate computers early will prepare them for more complex assignments later in their academic careers.
Study on Barriers to Participation in IT for Girls in Malawi
Less than a third of IT students in Northern Malawi are girls. Computer Studies is a core subject in the Malawian secondary school curriculum, yet female students are not engaging with, or seeing the benefits of digital education. In 2017 The Turing Trust, in collaboration with the University of Edinburgh, undertook research in schools in Northern Malawi to gain a better understanding of what is stopping girls from participating in IT. Our research found 4 key barriers to participation.
Whilst not specific to Malawi, male dominance is highly prevalent in Malawi culture and its presence in the classroom is having an impact on girls’ attainment, particularly in IT. Our research found that when undertaking tasks in mixed groups, it is often the boys who will take charge of the computer, leaving the girls to observe. This means that girls are missing opportunities to get hands-on IT experience and build their confidence in doing so.
Lack of Role Models
Many of the girls we interviewed told us they were discouraged from pursuing computer studies as this is seen as being a “boys” subject. Not only is the IT sector dominated by men, there is also a shortage of female IT teachers and so girls can’t picture themselves working either in the IT sector, or in a job that involves IT.
In Malawi, household tasks are divided along gender lines. Our research found that household chores left girls with less time to explore and experiment with IT than their male counterparts. There were also time constraints even in boarding schools, where female boarders had their access to IT curtailed by curfews that were not enforced on their male peers.
Gender Neutral Approach
Many schools take a gender neutral approach to teaching. Whilst this should ensure that male and female students have equal access to education, it does not take into account the obstacles that girls face and so makes it relatively harder for girls to make progress in the classroom.
If you are interested in reading about this study in more detail, please click here.
Our SolarBerry started life as the first container to transport computers from Edinburgh to Mzuzu, Malawi. Initial construction work took place in Mzuzu, and the SolarBerry was transported to Choma in Northern Malawi in April 2018. After the final touches and set up of the Raspberry Pi lab inside, the SolarBerry was handed over to the community in Choma on 22nd June, 2018. You can find out more about our Solarberry here.