Using Tablets to Replace Teachers in a Poor Ethiopian Village
Mobile devices cater to a multitude of needs, but one of the most important and perhaps interesting is learning. Even in a country like the United States, where education and learning content isn't hard to come by, many parents have begun introducing their children to tablets. It's a way they can learn interactively, while having fun. Now, imagine the potential this sort of learning could have in a country like Ethiopia, where many kids don't have access to something we consider basic on these shores: a teacher.
Early this year, the One Laptop Per Child project delivered 20 tablets to a village that has become a common sight in the country. Cleanliness doesn't exist here, but that's certainly not by choice. Along a volcano rim, the village is dusty, and the clothes worn by its people, filthy and raggedy. The scene is a stark contrast to any we'd picture when thinking about mobile devices. This is a village where the adults themselves don't know how to read, so what could happen when the children are introduced to something as simple as a tablet?
Well, believe it or not, the results so far have been nothing short of impressive. The children seem to be learning at an incredible rate, using nothing but the tablet as a teacher. Many of them are able to not only recognize certain English words but write them as well - and we assume say them also, although it's not explicitly stated. They're also able to recognize colors - something seemingly basic, but obviously important in the development of a young mind.
In one funny incident, one child, eight-year-old Kelbesa Negusse, managed to enable the camera that was disabled by default for the sake of saving battery-life. This is something simple if you understand English menus, but a great feat if you don't.
So far, it looks like the project has proven to be a great success, and we can only hope that the learning continues well into the future.