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Jakalas 1 school chases ICT dream

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In 2010, the Vision 2016 commemoration event swept through the village of Jakalas 1 in the North East District like the infamous Tsunami hurricane in a bumptious mode.

When all the dust had settled after the event, the local primary school had a fully-fledged computer lab, and, with 10 computers the institution was on its way towards achieving the principle of an educated and informed nation.

All welcomed the noble gesture as, for the first time, Jakalas 1, the last village towards the Ramokgwebana Border Post, witnessed their local school being connected to the Internet, thereby joining the information superhighway.

An event of such magnitude and pomp had the support of the then vice president, Lt Gen Mompati Merafhe, who bore witness to such a lab, which made the school one of the few in the district to have such Information Communication Technology (ICT) equipment.

Fast forward to 2013 and the computers are still there but they however do not have any connection to the Internet.

Forty-seven-year-old school teacher, Ms Lydia Moatshe, who was part of the 2010 team that witnessed the historic event, recalls that the computers came courtesy of the Office of the President (OP), as a donation to Jakalas 1 Primary School.

The school head, Ms Ottellia Chakalisa, who is still new at the school, chips in to say that, although the students have been taught how to use the computers, they have lately not been utilising them due to frequent power load shedding.

The 52-year-old Chakalisa says that the power cuts occur in the afternoon, an ideal time to have students at the lab after their morning classes are over.

Power cuts are not their only problem though. They rely on the goodwill of three individuals to help the students go through their computer lessons as primary schools have no subject specialisation such as a dedicated computer studies teacher.

A local teacher, Mr Martin Mbisana, a cook, Mr Gofhamodimo Musa and a cleaner Ms Patience Mokhwanani, volunteer their time to help the students learn the basics of computing.

Ms Moatshe indicates that students are very much interested in using them and some have an idea of how Microsoft Word works, thanks to the tremendous work of the volunteers.

“We were excited with the internet connection during the Vision 2016 celebration and we did not anticipate that it would be disconnected once the event was over,” says Ms Moatshe, looking above as to ponder what led to the disconnection.

She explains that the lack of the Internet is affecting them as teachers, especially when it comes to doing further research. They rely on the few books available and the absence of a library at the school or the village means the information they have has become monotonous.

If only they had the Internet connection, they would be able to move away from communicating through phones and writing letters, which often delays the intended message or it get lost before reaching their destination. They would also save on the stationary used as an email account would have eased their woes.

Ms Chakalisa believes it might even help in addressing the issue of subjects, which are being failed dismally by students, such as agriculture.

Meanwhile, in the absence of an internet connection, the school head and her teachers have not folded their arms and allowed the computers to gather dust. Their cook, Mr Musa comes in here.

 The 24 year-old cook says he did his basics in computer studies at Masunga Senior Secondary School in various Microsoft Office applications during his school days.

That knowledge is now being transferred to the young primary school students and he has already seen some with the potential as they learn very fast.

His ‘students’ are not limited to the kids only, but he has amongst those he guides, the school head and some teachers.

“They are doing well although the school head tends to be truant sometimes,” he says as Ms Chakalisa and Ms Moatshe burst into laughter.

The computer lab has grown tremendously from the initial 10 computers to 20 with some of the latest models decorating the lab.

It is also host to a television set used for the Tuesday live Botswana Television (Btv) Talk-Back programme targeting mostly teachers.

They also have laptops, a state of the art photocopier and a four-in-one machine that can print, scan, fax as well as photocopy, but due to the lack of networking, they only use the machines for photocopying only.

Their hope is that once all these things are fully up and running, they would also be able to help bridge the digital gap and not wish the Vision 2016 Commemoration can be held again in their village so as to relive the moments. Ends

Source : BOPA

Author : Kesentse Ketumile

Location : MAUN

Event : Vision 2016 commemoration

Date : Aug 28 Wed,2013

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