This Unusual Thing Called a Computer

The students and teachers of Baray, Slahamo and Endala Secondary Schools in Karatu District of Tanzania now have access to modern educational tools (computers). Many of these young people had never even seen a computer before Powering Potential implemented its program in October 2012.

See photos at the end of this post.

Powering Potential with our Educating-Through-Technology program has installed at each school, five computers, a solar power system to run them, and is funding two technology trainers for three months at each school.

A hallmark of our program is the RACHEL educational content from This content provides a wealth of current knowledge to the students and teachers – selected wikipedia sections, math and science teaching videos, medical reference books, ebooks from Project Gutenberg, and other content. Tanzania is suffering from a book famine and severe shortage of teachers so RACHEL fills a vital educational need.

This program is a collaboration with the local communities and the Tanzanian national government. The schools supplied the rooms for the computer labs, the tables and chairs, and they have agreed to continue the employment of at least one trainer for one year, after the initial three months of training. The Karatu District Council provided a four-wheel drive vehicle with driver to transport our equipment and staff to and from the schools for the installations, and the Tanzanian Rural Energy Agency helped fund the project.

The installations were managed by Albin Mathias, Powering Potential’s Country Director with assistance from Elibariki Magnus, our Karatu Representative.

After the installations Janice Lathen, the Founding Executive Director of Powering Potential, traveled from New York to the Karatu District to inspect the program. She was joined by Mr. Theo Mlaki, who until his recent retirement, served for 20 years as the Director of Information for the Tanzanian Commission for Science and Technology. He now deploys IBM consultants to Tanzania in his position as advisor to the Digital Opportunities Trust. They were both extremely impressed with what they saw.

Below are photos of the installation and the inspection at Baray school. Baray is in a very rural area, 65km (40 miles) from Karatu town over rocky, dirt roads and takes about 1 1/2 hours to get there.

There is also a photo of the celebration which the school hosted at the end of the installation to thank Albin Mathias and Elibariki Magnus for their new computer lab. Elibariki is a graduate of Baray school so it was an especially poignant experience for him to return to his alma mater to bring an Educating-Through-Technology program.


Below is a photo of Albin, our Country Director, briefing Mr. Mlaki on the technology. We use 15 watt computers with open source (free) software running on DC (direct current) electricity provided by solar power. We also install equipment to access the Internet through cellphone signals although the signals are sometimes too weak to get connected in these rural areas. We are working to find a way to boost the strength of the signals.

Baray, Slahamo and Endala schools have the same system.

This implementation was Phase 1 of our two phase Educating-Through-Technology program. Powering Potential has completed Phase 1 at five schools and Phase 1 and 2 at an additional school.

We are currently raising funds to implement Phase 2 at Welwel and Florian schools in February/March of 2013. Phase 2 is the addition of 15 more computers at each school. After Phase 2 is completed the schools can offer the Tanzanian national curriculum of Information and Computer Studies courses to its students.

Would you like to open up the modern world to eager students who lack adequate books and teachers? If so, donation information.

1 Comment

  1. Great work Albin and Janice, look forward to discussing RACHEL content with students from all over Karatu on my next visit. Keep it up!

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