PEAS is an education provider. Our purpose is to create exemplary school networks which increase access to quality education through a sustainable model, and, while that is true, it doesn’t quite tell the whole story. PEAS build school-bathrooms, which contribute to the water and sanitary hygiene provisions (WaSH) in underserved areas, we run school-feeding programmes which combat malnourishment, and we create ICT labs, which support the development of computer-literacy in areas where such skills are often not taught. PEAS may be an education provider, but we are proud to provide much more than education.
Our ICT laboratories are a particularly good example of the multi-dimensional work that PEAS does, and through our collaboration with funding partners like SITA, we have been able to construct over 30 purpose built ICT facilities in the last ten years. These laboratories are in place to ensure that all of our students have an opportunity to develop their computer literacy, an essential skill in modern economies, and to close the “the digital divide”. This refers to the impact a lack of computer-skills training can have on the productivity of emerging economies, and on the employability of young people in them, which is contributing to even greater divides between the Global North and South. Through our computer-studies courses, and the use of ICT in our teaching of subjects such as Business Studies, or Livelihoods, we are confident that we are helping young people to bridge the digital divide.
It is not just young people who are impacted by the digital divide. We believe that our teaching staff can benefit from increased computer-literacy, and in the process develop skills which help them to be the best teachers they can be. That is why we have conducted a comprehensive survey of three of our Zambian schools, to determine the areas in which our teaching staff feel confident using computers, and the type of skills which they feel could improve their lives and professional practice.
The survey’s results were eye-opening. We found that most staff only have access to a computer at school, which suggests that PEAS schools are providing teachers as well as students with access to computer equipment. Teachers surveyed also responded overwhelmingly that they are interested in the ICT professional development sessions that PEAS is introducing for our staff, which reflects quite how much they value the opportunity to advance their computer-literacy.
Finally, we found that the areas in which our staff really want to develop their own skills, are in data-management and learning to repair their own hardware.
Keep that in mind next time you call tech-support…