Digital Library and Computer Project
Through diligent work, community support, and the generous contribution of Peace Corp's SPA grant, we have successfully completed our Library Project at the local school here in Essaouira, Morocco. With equal enthusiasm, I would like to further contribute to my site by supplying the school with more computers; a valuable resource which my community’s school can utilize to its benefit. After meeting with the computer science teacher, I became even more convinced that the school needs additional computers. Our middle-high school in Essaouira, has about 900 students from ages 10-18 years old. Among these 900 students, only the first grade of middle school takes computer classes; which equates to 37 students in one class using 7 functioning computers for one hour. In other words, 1 computer per 5 students is used to teach computer skills. Out of the 5 students per 1 computer, only 1 or 2 gain hands-on practice time within the one hour of class time that they have. Considering the essential need for more computers in our community’s school, my Moroccan counterpart and I will be collaborating with the school’s computer science teacher in order to take on this extensive project that will expand and enrich the technology curriculum. My counterpart and I are also working with the school's principal and the local parent's association to set realistic and achievable objectives for purchasing and setting up more computers and to develop educational and effective methods of utilizing these computers, as well as maintaining the the equipment long-term. The vision of our Essaouira Computer Project is to expand and enhance the existing technology curriculum within our school by increasing the amount of available, functioning computers per student and to install these computers with updated, educational programs. We are requesting $5,000 in order to add about 15 more computers to our school, which currently only has 7 functioning computers. As a result, the impact of our school having more computers will allow many more students to gain computer and technology skills that will later benefit them in the work sector. In order to prepare students for the modern technological world of work, it’s essential that they receive the training and skills related to this field at school using updated, functioning computers. Not to mention, the rise of telecommunications growth in Morocco has increased substantially. Using technology in informative ways increases literacy because it allows for more reading and writing, it spreads information and news throughout Morocco faster than before, and grants people access to content that they were never exposed to before; broadening their minds and also introducing them to new ways of thinking and living. Equally important, entrepreneurship related to technology has become more relevant in our modern day lives. Opportunities in entrepreneurship allows for reduction in poverty by allowing many more ways to create and run businesses online. This contributes to job creations and employment growth. Notably, there are already cities in Morocco that have STEM school programs and encourage degrees in social sciences that allows for Moroccan students to stay current on international technological developments. Overall, technology benefits people of all social backgrounds and ages in progressive ways and I would like to my community to be a part of that.
My counterpart and I received so much community aid and support when setting up the library at the school that it inspired us to continue working with the staff there to improve the school further. The school’s principal, teachers, English Club, and the community’s parent’s association have contributed many hours of their time, their ideas and planning, labor, donated materials, and provided transport for us to collect our materials while we were setting up the library and now they have eagerly agreed to do the same for the computer project. Also, the computer science teacher has offered to extend his classes to adults for evening computer classes and to teach some students how to fix and maintain the computers. The English Club members have volunteered to use the computers to install and maintain a digital record of the library books and materials. The maintenance staff will be extending the school’s security system to guard the computers. In addition, the school and parent’s association will contribute to refurbishing the computer room so we can create more space to utilize and store the computers. They will provide more tables, chairs, and other materials needed to establish a fully functioning, improved computer program. Furthermore, we are also hoping to add internet to our computers by forming an alliance with a Moroccan internet provider. In unified coordination, I am confident that my counterpart, myself, the school, and the parent’s association will create a useful environment that motivates students to attend computer classes with trained teachers and dedicated staff that will ensure the longevity of this project.
After our computers have been in use for a month, I will meet with the schools’s teachers to determine if the computer project goals and objectives are being met, and if not, we’ll work out an alternative plan with the same intentions. The main purpose of this project is for the students and the community to effectively improve technological skills as well as other computer related skills. Also, the computer science teacher has agreed to train some of the older students who are interested in hardware repair/installing software to help him maintain the computers. Prior to my departure, we will also assign reliable and capable students with individual tasks to help preserve the computers and activities as well as continuously adding new ways to enhance the technology initiative in the school. The school is a secure place with security cameras that will control theft of the computers. Also, the computer room has steel bars on the windows for additional security. It’s my sincerest hope that this project will enhance the technology curriculum at our school here in Essaouira and set the foundations for future Peace Corps volunteers to build on.