Our partners, Centre for Youth and Development (CYD) are crucial to the deployment of the computers we send to Malawi in schools across the Northern and Central Regions. They also have a significant role in training to ensure that the computers provide maximum educational benefit for teachers and their students. Wongani Phiri gives us a fantastic insight into the work done by CYD and the impact it is having.
I have an amazing opportunity to work as a full-time, Intern for the Centre for Youth and Development. This opportunity has been life-changing and I have gained a lot of experience working with this organization in fulfillment of requirements for the award of a Degree in Information and Communication Technology at Mzuzu University.
I couldn’t have asked for a more rewarding experience. I am extremely grateful for the hands-on experience in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector and exposure to the work environment gained over the past 2 months of the 3 months internship duration.
Centre for Youth and Development’s mission is to empower children, youth, and women through improved access to education, health services, and economic opportunity. I interned in their Improving Access to ICT program which creates computer laboratories in schools, with each school receiving a minimum of 20 computers loaded with offline e-library software; they supply IT maintenance services to repair or replace any non-working equipment in schools; and they provide training for teachers on how to use e-learning resources in lessons, PC maintenance, and troubleshooting, and how to get the most from the offline resources they provide through our e-library.
I work as an ICT Technical Assistant, and I have had the opportunity to be exposed to both software and hardware maintenance; installation of computers in schools; one to one mentoring sessions with teachers; career guidance, and role modeling sessions to inspire students especially girls to take computer studies subject; workplace management practices; reporting and gained confidence and I look forward to finalizing my internship a changed person. The support from my supervisor Sylvester Mtumbuka is so enriching, he shared some practical tricks in fault finding.
For Instance, a red light or yellow light on the CPU means that there is a RAM problem, I have to open the CPU and clean the RAM chip, and put it back. If the problem continues, I have to replace the RAM chip. If that is not the issue with a yellow light, then it means a power supply problem on the CPU outlet. To know if a monitor is dead, I would replace the one not working with another monitor, if it is working on the same CPU then the other one has a fault and needs to be replaced.
The most exciting moments are the field trips to install computers in schools. The traveling and the interactions with students are so priceless. Students, especially girls, admire me working on the computers, some don’t believe that I can actually install the computers and after installation is done, they cheer for me and approach me and tell me I am inspiring them to take a career in ICT. One touching moment was when:
A male student at Robert Blake Secondary School approached me and asked if it was okay for him to have a female Role Mode. I told him motivation doesn’t need gender. He then said; ‘you are my motivation, and I am eyeing a career in ICT’.
I realized that the motivation was mutual, the smiles and excitement from them motivate me, knowing that I am contributing to positive change and I am always happy to help them and encourage them.
The most fulfilling moment of all is when the students test and use the computers to see if everything is working. For many, this is the first time to use let alone touch a computer. The students are always excited and their smiles melt my heart.
This is an opportunity for me to teach the students the basics of using a computer because most of them don’t know how to operate a computer. Mostly 3 out of 10 students would know how to use a computer and in some extreme scenarios, none of the students in school would know how to use a computer. I take them through the basics; how to hold the mouse, basic computer applications, and typing. I am always happy to help them because every student deserves to have basic computer knowledge.