Computer training at Pandahill Secondary School Songwe

Felix and Tristan teaching

Because of the great success of our computer school in Iringa, where we have, since its inauguration in 2004, taught more than 650 Tanzanians (March 2011), we were asked also to send young volunteers as computer lecturers to Pandahill Secondary in Songwe near Mbeya. Computer are hard to find in Tanzania and the few existing ones prefer to work in the metropolis of Dar es Salaam rather than in rural areas . Therefore s drastic lack of computer lecturers is ubiquitous in Tanzania.

In a first step, we equipped the computer lab of the school with 25 computers donated to us in Germany because the existing ones were outdated and in a miserable state. The computers were installed by Steffen and Sebastian, who at that time were our volunteers at our computer school in Iringa, so that they could be used.

Since August 2008, two Germans do a 13-month voluntary service at Pandahill. They teach computer studies and offer optional classes on the basis of their own qualifications and inclinations and the interests of the students. At present, the fourth generation of volunteers is there: Tobias Ruby and Michael Swiacki have passed their A-level exams in Germany and are both very familiar with computers.

The two mainly teach the basics of computer studies: Microsoft Office, basic knowledge of network and Internet, HTML, CSS and data banks. For those students who are highly motivated, their predecessors have established a small, voluntary "computer club", in which a school-magazine is produced and perhaps later-on a website for the school will be designed.  Some students gave asked Michael to teach them German, and so he has started a German class, too. The students are mainly between 15 and 18 years of age.

The classes normally consist of about 55 students, which is huge according to German standards, but quite normal in Tanzania. The normal method of instruction is ex-cathedra teaching –  presumably the only method possible in such a big class. As the practical part of computer studies is not possible with such a big group, there is first a theory lesson with the whole class, in which the teaching matter is explained on the board. Then the class is divided into two groups so that the students can practice what they have learned in theory before.