The Arusha Project

Rotary Club of Paddington, Qld (formerly Brisbane Planetarium)

November 2014

Jeanette Johnstone and Patrick Hackett trialled raspberry pi servers in a number of locations in and around Arusha, Tanzania. Whilst the concept was fine, constant power outages uncovered shortcomings with the delivery devices that were not apparent at home. As an added bonus Patrick was able to work with local IT professionals to show them how to load educational materials onto the servers at several educational centres.

The Arusha Project 1
Team member Patrick Hackett meeting with academic staff at the School of St Jude to plan the Teacher in a Box deployment
The Arusha Project 2
Children checking out a computer at the library for the very first time
January 2017

In January 2017 team members returned to Tanzania with our new hardware solution, repurposed laptop computers, aka Teacher in a Box. With the support of the Rotary Club of Arusha, several Teacher in a Box servers were deployed in the region including schools that were not involved in previous deployments.

Dr Louise North reported on a school visit: The East Meru Community school co-founder and director Tanzanian-born, Mary Horne was thrilled to be shown the TIB server that would benefit all of her primary-aged students. In less than 15 minutes Jeanette had shown Mary the program and before she could get to the end of the presentation, Mary declared: “It’s going on the system, this is very exciting”.

“My mind is just exploding with how it is going help our kids and teachers,” Mary said.

Teacher, Absalom Shanguya, was almost as excited as the kids, and said that the program would make teaching more effective.

“It’s got visual, audio‚Ķ. It’s very special it will keep them creative and interested in the material,” Absalom said.

Earlier that day he had spent a large part of lesson time drawing a map of Africa on the chalk board, while the children watched on, losing interest as they waited. With TIB, he said, he could simply take the children to the room with electricity and show his students a map of Africa, zoom in to Arusha and Mt Meru or anywhere else and engage the children via technology.

As Mary said, “This is amazing, I am so excited, it will help the children with ICT skills and English language development” aside from the obvious educational information.

The Arusha Project 3
East Meru Community School students with teacher, Absalom Shanguya. (Image: Louise North)
The Arusha Project 4
Tuleeni Orphanage in the Kilimanjaro region of Tanzania. Home of the first Digi Truck. Jeanette & Ric with Mandy and another Neema International representative.
The Arusha Project 5
Teachers at a government school accessing Teacher in a Box via wi-fi on their laptops
The Arusha Project 6
Rotarian James Mepham showing IT staff at another government school how to access Teacher in a Box from their phones
The Arusha Project 7
Teachers at Arusha Meru International School checking out the materials on Teacher in a Box via their wired network
December 2018

Jeanette, Julie and Pam Carne returned to Arusha to attend the graduation of one of their sponsor children. Unfortunately most of the schools were starting their break and that left only the School of St Jude and the East Meru Community School to provide us with personal feedback on the Teacher in a Box.

The School of St Jude runs a “Beyond St Jude Program” through which students can give back to the community for a year in return for assistance with their tertiary goals. Angela Bailey who runs the program was happy to report that past St Jude students were taking Teacher in a Box servers into government schools to improve the educational experience of the students.

Feedback from the East Meru Community school is provided in this interview.

January 2020

Mary Horne of East Meru Community School advised that ALL of their Standard 4 class passed their national exam with 26 students getting As and another 3 students getting Bs.

This is also the first year that EMCS has students graduating into secondary and all have been given a place at the nearby Maruvango Secondary School. Reports from their new headteacher are that the ex-EMCS students are currently “leading the class and helping their fellow students”. One teacher was heard to say that the students from EMCS “are challenging us a lot, they are very well prepared with lots of confidence”. The students have been given the nickname the “English teachers”!