schooltoolers team mailing list archive
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Report from Zambia
Jen Overgaag is an American who worked last year at the Mpelembe
school in Zambia, and she was instrumental in applying for a
SchoolTool development grant at the school and supporting its initial
implementation. She has subsequently returned to the states, and I
asked her to write a report of her experiences with SchoolTool
including an update on the current status there.
The report is here:
The tl;dr is things got off to a good start but then Jen, 3/4ths of
the IT staff and 1/2 of the teacher "power users" left the school. So
now they're trying to get rolling again with new personnel. This is
fairly typical, not only in the developing world, but it wouldn't be
that uncommon in low-income US public schools.
In terms of SchoolTool development, my main takeaway is that we need
to work on providing a package of automated supervisor, auto-update
and similar scripts for low-capacity schools.
In the bigger picture, the conventional wisdom among most people who
work on distributing an invention -- whether software, hardware, or
whatever -- in the developing world is that creating the product is
the easy part. Actually getting it into the field, used, maintained,
sustained, etc. is the hard part.
In this regard, SchoolTool seeks to make the easy parts easy and the
hard parts possible. We do software, some support and documentation.
But ultimately it will be up to people on the ground and on site to
make the implementations work.
The goal is that some people, when confronted with a problem, think “I
know, I'll use SchoolTool.” And they will still only have one
problem. But it will be easier than before.