In 2015, Determined to Develop (D2D) constructed a physical building to be used as a technology center for youth in the local area. Until recently, the technology center remained an empty building, waiting for funding to furnish the room with computers, projectors and other useful technology.
At the end of last year, and in partnership with US Peace Corps Volunteer Cory Sugerik, D2D received funding from “Let Girls Learn,” a US government initiative to ensure girls get the education they deserve. We are pleased to report that in August 2017, after receiving and installing the technology, D2D began delivering computer literacy classes to local female youth; the first project of its kind in the area.
With a fully equipped technology center, D2D is hosting computer literacy training conducted by two Advance Diploma ICT students from Soche Technical College in Blantyre. Access to the technology center will allow for diversification of skill sets through access to electronic based resources and ultimately increase employability and competitiveness in further education for those who attend the computer course.
By youth having access to computers, we will help to address disparities between rural and urban youth in terms of educational achievement and access to skills and resources. The program will help to empower youth by allowing them to obtain skills and knowledge necessary to be more successful in the increasingly competitive tertiary education system and job market.
“We have learned about the computer systems from the very beginning, learning how to switch on and off computers, change text color and style and navigate a desktop. I’m learning about things I never saw or touched before. Taking part in the course is going to benefit me because in the future I will be able to write letters on the computer which is more professional than using pen and paper. I can apply for a job this way! Maybe one day I can even teach someone else who has never seen a computer before.” (Florence Mhango (17) is soon to start her first year of high school).
Malawi has a chronic technological deficit in terms of both skills and resources. Outside of urban centers, there are extremely limited computer learning resources, like computer hardware, and there are subsequently very few individuals in rural areas with the knowledge to effectively teach or utilize technology. This means that young women in rural areas do not have the same advantages as those in town, who are exposed to this technology. It is for this reason that this project aims to increase access to technology, as well as train trainers, to ensure project sustainability and improve knowledge base among local male and female leaders.
“In Malawi we are now seeing a rise in technology use. Those who in future want to attend university, college or be employed all need to learn computer skills to keep up with the country demand. As the country strives to be more advanced, students need to strive to become more advanced in their knowledge, too. Learning computer skills gives you the option to learn information from wider sources and opens you to more knowledge and opportunities.” (Steven Chilemba, ICT Teacher).
So far, 52 female youth have graduated from a 3 week beginner computer literacy course. 24 more are currently undertaking daily classes during the current school holiday and D2D will incorporate male students once the current group has completed the course.
The room houses 16 fully functioning computers and two projectors for ease of teaching and other activities. 32 students can participate in a class at any one time, with two to a computer. Current teachers plan to train other members of the community to pass on their knowledge and ensure that the program continues to be a success. D2D congratulates the recent graduates and look forward to seeing many more.