Tweeting together, creating a louder voice online

Rudo Mungofa
Posted August 1, 2014 from Zimbabwe

My mother in law has possibly the most important job in the world, that of shaping the minds of the next generation...she is a primary school teacher. She teaches at a government run primary school in a small town in Zimbabwe called Chegutu which is not online and does not really empower teachers to be tech savvy. Nevertheless Mum is so open to us kids introducing new things to her and she likes to know how things work so she is always interested to hear about this whole other life I live online in social media though she does not as yet venture into that space.

One afternoon last month whilst surfing the net I literally bumped into an international twitter discussion on education: Teaching conditions and How technology can be introduced into schools. The discussion immediately caught my attention and I thought that it is something that required an African teachers voice as most of the participants were European or American. I thought how great it would be for my mother in law to be able to be a part of that discussion and have her voice heard on her own behalf and on behalf of teachers like here who are not plugged in to the world wide web yet are actively shaping minds in Africa as educators. I remember calling her and telling her about the discussion and how I felt she had something to contribute to it and if she wanted to contribute I would tweet her questions and comments from my twitter account. She was initially hesitant at the prospect of my suggestion but then agreed to participate and share her views with the other teachers from around the world. I used the hashtag my "#MumTeacher" to show that I was tweeting on her behalf and read out the comments being made by others to her over the phone and typed in and tweeted her comments / responses and questions [See screenshot attached].

It was an awesome experience being able to enable her to be connected to the web in this way and for her voice to be added to the discussion which was very first world centric in its ideas on introduction of computer skills into schools and teachers using the internet more. At my Mum's school there are a total of 15 computers spread across the school and she has 40 children in her classroom so the idea of computer classes being part of the schools curriculum will require major investment which presently the government cannot afford. Furthermore teachers are not given access to computers or the internet for those who do have computer access so we are still a very long way from being able to offer and form of computer based learning in our government school. These facts were a real eye opener for some of the people in the discussion who had taken for granted that all teachers had better access than we do in Africa.

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Comments 4

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Kristina M
Aug 15, 2014
Aug 15, 2014

Hello,

I really enjoyed reading how you made sure your mother in law's voice was heard by posting to Twitter on her behalf. I also think it is great that she has a curiosity about new things. Hopefully in the near future, her school (along with others) will have access to more computers so she can teach the next generation about the big world that is out there.

Rudo Mungofa
Aug 17, 2014
Aug 17, 2014

Thank you for your kind comments, I think it would be awesome if there was a bank of computers that could be donated to the school, what a difference it would make to the teaching experience and the future of those children in a small town in Africa... the possibilities are endless!!!

Mary S
Aug 19, 2014
Aug 19, 2014

Hi Rue

It is great to see that you were able to get your mum involved in the Twitter conversation. Were you able to get any good advice for how she can teach the kids using the computers they have? It is not ideal if they have to sit three to a machine, but they may still be able to learn the basics.

You might want to request a set of free DVDs from Edubyte http://edubyte.org/wp/ as these are designed to help with education on computers that are not connected to the internet.

Information from their website:

"Edubyte ships compilations of educational resources to communities with limited internet access worldwide. These open source compilations are stored and shipped via DVDs. The updated Edubyte Resource Bundle includes material for a K-12 audience and covers nearly all academic subjects to a high level of detail. Multiple types of media (e.g. video, article, textbook) are used to convey the material.

In a great number of schools, in regions throughout the world, students often gain access to computers far before gaining access to the Internet – due to the infrastructure necessary to install Internet access in remote locations. Unfortunately, this severely restricts the amount of educational resources available to these students. The non-profit Edubyte initiative answers this problem with a straightforward and cost-effective solution: Offloading the web’s major Open Source educational resources to a series of DVDs, and shipping this DVD series to any school or community which seeks access to the Internet’s tremendous educational capacity – however does not have direct access to the Internet. With this method of resource sharing, Edubyte is able to ship over 2,000 educational videos, millions of encyclopedia articles, 18,000 books, numerous pieces of educational software and hundreds of digital textbooks to remote locations throughout the world."

Mary

Dani26
Aug 28, 2014
Aug 28, 2014

Hi Rue

Thanks so much for sharing your story - like you, my mum is also a primary school teacher and I have on a few occasions helped her with doing various things on the internet. Here in Australia schools are quite connected to computers and the internet, but I agree that it is so important for more than just first world voices to be included in these conversations, especially to open people's eyes to inequalities in access to ICT around the world. I think it's fantastic that you were able to facilitate your mum's participation in the conversation on twitter (I haven't managed this so far with my mum!)

Best wishes to yourself and your mum :-) Dani

PS Love your quote - I think you are indeed being the change you want to see in the world!