Fourth Annual ICT4D Postgraduate Symposium (I). Matti Tedre: A New Educational Program in Tanzania

Notes from the Fourth IPID ICT4D Postgraduate Symposium 2009, held in the Royal Holloway University of London, Egham, United Kingdom, on September 11-12th, 2009. More notes on this event: ict4d_symposium_2009.

A New Educational Program in Tanzania. A Rought Road to Success
Matti Tedre, Tumaini University, Tanzania

Project held in Tumaini Univeristy, a University in the Iringa region, to build the B.Sc. Program in IT.

A contextualized programme: practical, problem-based, interdisciplinary, context-sensitive, internationally recognized, research-based (the six pillars).

Learning is a strong commitment for the whole community: the community collects money to send one member to the University. This person becomes aware of the importance of learning and of strongly committing with his own learning. Hence, students usually collaborate and learn together.

Main problems: corruption, politics, natural disasters, economics, ecology and recycling, geography and climate, tropial diseases, bureaucracy, tampering and theft, illiteracy, power problems, scarcity of basic hardware, gender roles, lax standards, cultural conflicts, local purchase and manufacturing, manufacturer policies, customs and shipping, transportation, maintenance problems…

Things that you would have liked to know from the start:

  • Double check: remind people about stuff, double-check, follow-up, attend lectures to check lecturers are there, use a penalty clause in contracts to enforce them
  • Be flexible: adapt to the environment (my way is not the only way), plan short-term, readiness to change the plans, agile methods, democratic leadership might not work
  • Make budget locally
  • Make rules clear: very different “unspoken” rules, decide what you can’t give up, listen to others’ views, make the rules clear, share the pain
  • Clarify goals: to students (IT as a profession, life-long learning), to all colleagues (goals of their work, goals of education), find out motivations
  • Recruit early: staff, students, sudden changes, plan to recruit more than you need
  • Communicate: spoken and face-to-face is preferred, talk face-to-face even when you know it’ll end in a clash (you’d better face it), try to have someone who can smooth out the friction
  • Create ownership: if you install some infrastructures (e.g. a computer lab), you have to assign ownership of the lab to the community or to specific people, and they will take care of it. If there’s no ownership, it’s noone’s… or everyone’s
  • Don’t panic: most of the anxiety is needless, take it as it comes
  • See the big picture: try to distance yourself, try to see how your actions change the dynamics of the place

Summing up, some questions about what’s really important in this kind of work:

  • Why am I here
  • What is the most important thing I want to achieve in my work
  • What should i do today to get closer to my goal

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Fourth Annual ICT4D Postgraduate Symposium (2009)

If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:

Peña-López, I. (2009) “Fourth Annual ICT4D Postgraduate Symposium (I). Matti Tedre: A New Educational Program in Tanzania” In ICTlogy, #72, September 2009. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
Retrieved month dd, yyyy from http://ictlogy.net/review/?p=2682

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