Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Computing Update

Computing and computing knowledge is an enormous advantage for Sierra Leoneans and the younger people in particular are acutely aware. Sheka shown here is under my training at the City of Bo. Knowledge and the need to get ahead of peers in the high stakes job market is extremely important. Many of the best opportunities for work are with the government and importantly international non-governmental organizations. Otherwise jobs are scarce and limited to labouring, farming and market selling. A primary requirement is to have computing knowledge and the challenge in acquiring the knowledge is a) access to hardware and software, b) hydro to power the computers c) teaching d) money to afford a, b and c.

In Bo a city of 150,000 people and the largest outside of Freetown the education system is poor and does not have access to any computing. There are several private schools that offer courses but have limited access to very old machines and limited numbers of good instructors.

Altus Group headquartered in Toronto has a program of renewal and updating and as part of the program the company generously sent me 5 laptop machines. The machines were cleaned and software loaded by Altus in-house technician Mitchel Smith before they were shipped. Thanks go to Altus and Mitchel.

Two of the machines were placed in a local printing shop whose owner Joseph Kamara agreed to be a host without charge. Joseph is a local entrepreneur who sees an opportunity to earn future revenue from a more knowledgeable local youth. He has already opened an internet café next door to the printing shop. The printing shop is ideal because it has a reasonably reliable source of electricity driven by a back up diesel generator. The power supply is needed for the printing machines and is available to power the computers as well. Software was installed to self teach all of the Microsoft features and programs such as Word and Excel. The computers are made available to students at a cost of 1,000 Leones (30c) per hour and reports from Sheka Kamara who monitors the program, the students, find the availability of machines and the teaching aids very useful

One of the remaining lap tops was placed with the Mayor Wusu Sannoh of the City of Bo. The Mayor is a former academic, a professor of chemistry at Fourah Bay University in Freetown. He was delighted since he had had an old machine that had failed. Another laptop went to the local Njala university and specifically to the campus where nursing is taught. The last computer was given to a local individual Ramiatu Abu Mussah who was entered into a draw for those who had paid their local City of Bo property tax. The City of Bo had run an incentive program to entice people to start paying property tax and this has now proved to be most successful.
In Makeni a computer school was started by Peter Lansana a graduate of a local college partnered with Adikalie Kamara my City of Makeni technician and trainee. They are still looking desparately for some laptops since their power supply through back up generators lacks fuel and is eratic. The photo shows Adilkalie in training at the local UN office allowing us to use reasonable space and importantly power.

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