ICT Literacy in Rural Schools: Ndorwa West’s Bahati Takes the Lead

On a cold morning, about 50 secondary school students stand in awe in a valley as huge mountains loom before them.

The dust raised by road graders cover a small convoy of cars in the mountains.

The students of Rubaya Secondary School, near the border with Rwanda, are expecting a high profile guest. The sun is already high in the sky.

The convoy of government officials is suddenly brought into sharp focus.

With their shirts gently tucked in, the students smile ear to ear as the guest arrives.

Ndorwa West MP David Bahati is in the area to monitor progress on development work – rehabilitation of roads, extension of water and electricity to homes and also visit churches and social groups.

Flanked by local government officials, Bahati is warmly welcomed to the school by administrators.

“The future of our students, country and Africa lies in the proper usage of these machines,” says Bahati, pointing at five new computers he recently donated to the school.

Bahati (in yellow shirt) being welcomed to the school

“Technology is important. It is changing the way we do business and educate our children. Every school, wherever it is must embrace technology,” he adds as excited students cheer him on.

“I used to sleep in a grass-thatched house and walk bare-footed to school. We didn’t have these computers for our learning. You need to make good use of these gadgets. The world is now changing at a fast pace. We can’t afford to be left behind,” emphasises Bahati as the school community listens attentively.

Research shows early ICT education improves engagement, enhances interest a range of subjects, improves knowledge retention, facilitates individual learning, encourages collaboration and students can learn useful life skills through technology.

Bahati had earlier donated 40 computers to the school. His recent donation increased the number of computers at the school to 45.

The development comes at a time government is struggling with a wide urban-rural disparity in schools in terms of access to teaching and learning resources and quality of teaching.

Most teachers especially in rural areas are using teacher-centred methods of teaching which develop mainly Low Order Thinking skills amongst students.

An elder leads Bahati to the school
The Minister with the students at Rubaya Secondary School 

Additionally, the country is grappling with limited collaboration among schools on joint learning activities and little opportunity for continuous teacher professional development.

If this digital divide continues, schools in rural areas will remain at a clear disadvantage due to their inability to maximize their knowledge and access to information through ICT resources.

Changing the tide

But Bahati says the introduction of ICT in rural schools in Ndorwa West will boost ICT integration in different subjects across the curriculum and encourage emphasis on application of concepts taught in class to daily life application.

He also is optimistic that graduates from schools like Rubaya Secondary School will acquire employable skills and competencies.

“I will meet the cost of internet connection for these computers for a whole year. The computers will help teachers in research. All the information you need for your learning is on Google,” says Bahati.

The school community receiving the computers
The new computers in the school’s ICT lab

“You need to be innovative to solve societal and country challenges. There are a lot of apps you can use on the internet. I use Google Maps to locate places.”

Until recently, the school lacked computers and decent dormitories for girls.

Administrators and students at the government school say they will put the computers to good use.

“The computers will go a long way in bridging the ICT literacy gap between our school and the rest,” one of the administrators said, adding, “The 200 bags of cement you gave us helped built a girls’ dormitory and office. The girls are happy to be in a modern dormitory.”

Experts say ICT literacy helps students obtain employable skills and competencies such as critical-thinking, problem-solving, innovation, creativity, teamwork and collaboration.

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