Computer Literacy In Developing Countries

n 1989, the Hasegawa family of the Kyoto Computer Gakuin (KCG) established the International Development of Computer Education (IDCE) program, a special program to expand computer education. Over the past six years, the IDCE program has donated almost 2,000 computers and provided computer instruction to countries in Asia, Europe, Africa, and South America. Hundreds of computers have been sent to secondary and upper level schools in Thailand, Ghana, Poland, Kenya, Peru, and Zimbabwe. IDCE’s goal is to widen access to basic computers for educational purposes in developing countries, where often there is no public access to computer technology. The program aims to increase basic computer skills and encourage computer education.

One Dream Foundation, believes that the spread of education in science and technology can be the key to a country’s future economic independence and prosperity. Not everyone agrees with us, however. Some say what Africa needs is not computers, but water and clothes and other necessities of life. But we think they need both. The African people have a great desire to learn and to utilize the tools of modern technology just like anyone else on the globe. One Dream Foundation just like IDCE believe that if we provide the seed, this capability will flourish.

The IDCE Five Step Program

The program entails the following five steps:

1. KCG donates one to three hundred computers to the government of the participating country.

2. The recipient government is responsible for maintaining and distributing the computers to schools all over the country.

3. KCG provides instructors to the recipient country to teach an intensive course to selected teachers of the schools receiving the computers.

4. Local instructors are taught how to operate the machines as well as educational strategies useful for teaching computer skills. This is a two-phase instructional program. The first technical training is a 15 to 21 day intensive session in the recipient country, during which time local teachers learn the basic programming skills and tools. According to IDCE Curriculum Director, Mark Johnson, the goal “is to teach instructors how to think linearly like a programmer. Once this hurdle has been crossed, the rest of the course is a snap.”

5. The second phase is a more intensive session that takes place at the Kyoto Computer Gakuin for a few trainees who excelled in the first phase. The session in Japan is an international joint training program with teachers from East Europe, Africa, and South East Asia. The instructors from Japan who had taught the graduates of the first phase in the home countries are available to welcome them and to continue this education process. There have been two joint training courses so far. In 1992, 40 people from around the world enrolled into this intensive program, living and studying together. In 1994, the joint training session was held in October as part of Kyoto’s 1200th anniversary. The session involved over 40 teachers from Peru, Zimbabwe, Thailand, and Ghana.

After going through the five steps in the program, the recipient country establishes a computer education program at schools for the general public. KCG and the countries continue to work together in encouraging and supporting computer education.

The program is most successful in a country with a government that understands and appreciates the value of computer education. Governments should be aware that teaching computer information processing skills are a basic requirement in education for young people, and not just for the corporate world. The goals of IDCE are simple and yet will have a significant impact on the increase of computer literacy in African countries. One Dream Foundation intends to make education in science and technology available to the ordinary people in developing countries.

The spread of education in science and technology is the key to a country’s future economic independence and prosperity, and we, One Dream Foundation wish to participate in the promotion of global computer education by passing on our own experience now and generation to come.

The following article is copyright © African Technology Forum.

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