Basic Keyboarding at the MultiMedia Center

Classes have been held for the last three months here in our temporary classroom, as we await the completion of the new Library! We are grateful to the students and teachers who remain committed to these classes while we develop.

Please click here to read essays written by the students of these classes as they practiced their typing skills!

Or read the essay below by a Byoona Amagara volunteer about the beginnings of these classes.

Following is an essay about the humble beginnings of our computer literacy initiative, written by Tom Mahon (UK), a resident volunteer at Byoona Amagara.

Our typing classes started in early October, 2004, led by teachers Asiimwe Sam and Sira Kabahena graciously volunteering from the Bwama Island schools. Working with handouts and displaying examples on a laptop, the teachers – who had computer training but had never taught keyboarding before – started with an introduction to computers, then began to competently teach typing. They were very focussed on the task, working through progressively more difficult typing exercises. Towards the end of the term, we had the students write small essays and had them copy short lengths of text. In two months of one or two 1 ½ hour lessons per week, the adults and secondary school students (senior 3 & 5) have gone from laboriously typing the “home keys” – asdf jkl; - to being able to type several paragraphs in a few minutes.

We have had a lot of interest, from these students and others from the community at large, about the possibility of computer training (beyond just the keyboarding) here at Byoona Amagara, and I believe that it would be a great success. We have been told there is the possibility of a donation of a small bank of PCs (like 5 or 6), and I know we would be very effective at putting them to immediate and valuable use in training local teachers, students and members of the community. It is exciting to think about this! We have one teacher here who is already competent with Word and Excel and another who is currently learning how to use this software. Also, one of our own staff members has shown great aptitude in computing and has learnt many of the functions of Windows and the Office software. I will be here through March, 2005, to teach computing, and assist with the start-up of our new library and media centre. The role of assistant computer trainer would also be very suitable for volunteers from abroad who may have much experience and many skills in this area. Indeed, many of the guests who stay with us have some knowledge of computers and are able to join in with my training and show the students and staff some new skills. I can also say that while I have been teaching the teachers about the computer, I have had to help very little with the typing classes – our teachers have taught these very well with their own training and research - they are extraordinarily independent, resourceful and totally committed!

The difficulties we have experienced have been mainly logistical. We received a donation of ten of the keyboards which allowed us to get started, however, two of them did not work and another has since failed. With only seven remaining, we are a bit stretched to meet the demand - we began putting two learners to each keyboard, and then one of our typing teachers, Sira, even began offering a second and then a third class, both which filled immediately!) As well, though the students and teachers have remained serious throughout, some lessons have been missed. This has been for several reasons mostly having to do with the basic challenges of life on a lake! We are working through all the problems though and everyone is cooperating and making the best of it... as is the African way.

From what I have seen, there is virtually no computer access at the moment for the majority who have little money. There is great interest from adults and students alike, who see computing as another step towards further or higher education and a practical tool in themselves for learning, writing letters, sending e-mails etc... So to summarise, it would make me very happy to see the typing classes progressing to computing classes, Internet use, networking, etc. The desire is here to have computer training and the teachers are becoming ever more competent as we work with the keyboard training and the one laptop computer we have here. The permanent staff here at the project have also shown a lot of interest in typing and computing, and they want to learn as much as the students do, in fact with more time to access the equipment, they have been able to progress further during their free time, typing, saving and opening documents, editing and changing font size, spell checking and using some of the features of Excel. The people here have little material wealth and something like this would improve the educational prospects SO MUCH.

Tom Mahon, Volunteer
Itambira Island
Nov. 29, 2004
© Byoona Amagara 2007