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How eLearning Africa helped a school in the Copperbelt

Sister Clara Mukuka Mulenga

Thanks to a meeting between a Franciscan missionary sister and two British educationalists at the eLearning Africa conference, a Zambian school has opened its first home economics classroom. At a 2010 Lusaka conference workshop, Sister Clara Mukuka Mulenga discussed problems at St Theresa’s Basic School in Luanshya with David Lumsdon of the Oxfordshire IT firm RM Education and his friend Ian Painter. She was also inspired to strongly advocate the use of ICTs in education and in the community.

By Brenda Zulu in Lusaka

Sister Clara, a Franciscan Missionary Sister of Assisi, said that ever since its founding in 1938, her school in the Copperbelt had lacked a home economics classroom: “I shared with them our hopes for the school. We kept in touch after the workshop.

“David is a business development manager at RM Education in the United Kingdom and was able to organise a charity bike ride for us with his friend Ian to raise funds for our home economics room.  They were successful and the money was sent to our school.”

A new home economics teacher, Mrs Machile, has now arrived at the school to teach in the new room, equipped with a stove, a refrigerator and a full set of kitchen utensils.

Mini workshop on ICTs at school

eLearning Africa 2010 inspired Sister Clara to hold a mini-workshop at her school, sharing her new Information and Communication Technologies experience with the other teachers.

“I showed them one of the lesson CDs which were produced in India and how interesting and simplified teaching can become. They were interested and wanted to show this to their pupils.

“The only barriers are the lack of a projector, a screen and the necessary computers. Teachers are asking whether the school could buy at least two computers and a projector to show these lessons to the pupils.

International computer driving licence

Sister Clara heard Geoffrey Shakawa from the Ministry of Education in Namibia speaking on Preparing Africa’s Teachers of Tomorrow: Integrating ICTs into Pre-Service Teacher Education Programmes” at eLearning Africa 2010. Mr Shakawa explained the importance of International Computer Driving Licence (ICDL) certification, now required after teacher training, and Sister Clara has since registered for ICDL and hoping to be certified later this year when she will have completed seven modules.

Change in mindset

Sister Clara says other teachers have expressed an interest in ICDL training if it can be introduced at the school or if they can join a course at Mpelembe Secondary School in Kitwe. Some teachers have said they plan to buy their own computers: “It is a great change. A few years ago, computers were not even discussed in the school.
“My hopes are to improve teaching and learning with computers by instructing the teachers first on the use of ICTs so that they can in turn show the pupils.”

A community computer lab

Sister Clara said members of the local community, including school leavers, hospital staff and trades people in Ibenga, are keen to learn about ICT: “They have expressed an interest in wanting to know how to use a computer and the school has enough land to build a computer lab to cater for the needs of the whole community.

“In Mpongwe District, as in all other districts, we have started preparing electronic exam entries for the grade 7 and grade 9 pupils. These trainings are offered by Examination Council of Zambia (ECZ) once a year. Once we have a computer lab and computers at the school, we can cater for the needs of the district in terms of training teachers. It would also be a centre for training of electronic exam entries since most of the basic schools in the district are located in remote places and in some there is no electric power.”

At present, teachers and head teachers must travel to the office of the District Education Board (DEBS) for their examinations.

“They do not have this facility due to lack of power. A lab in the school would answer the problem.”

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