The Okurase Electronic Classroom provides the opportunity for students to learn to use computers and the internet to facilitate their learning.
Prior to the electronic classroom, neither children nor adults in Okurase had access to computers. Many had no exposure. Lack of computer access put students in particular behind their age-mates in Accra because all were required to take computerized school exams.
The Electronic Classroom Program
In 2013 a group of students from La Jolla Country Day School in La Jolla, California traveled to Okurase and spent a week helping with a community activity – to build an Electronic Classroom. The village took a rented space and put two buildings together. They put in a floor and put on a roof. When the students arrived the space was ready to be cleaned, painted, and have flooring installed. This task was carried out as a joint effort by the students and mainly village children. After the building was ready, a local carpenter made desks for the classroom and the La Jolla students sanded and painted them. When the entire room was finished, the La Jolla students placed the 15 laptops they brought onto the desks and the Okurase Electronic Classroom was born.
The Electronic Classroom has been invaluable to the local schools but we have also had students from schools far away come to use the classroom. A dream we all hoped for, introducing computers and training students to use them, came to fruition. As a next step, students from Miami Valley School in Ohio brought 30+ new laptops and 3 desktops to the Electronic Classroom in January 2017. These laptops moved us a giant step forward in supporting the needs of the local schools and our new Internet Cafe. With the addition of these laptops, we were also able to initiate a program to loan each school in Okurase a laptop to be used by their technology teacher during the school year. This will enable the teacher to provide some basic instruction prior to the students going to the Electronic Classroom and will allow the teacher to prepare for the lessons.
The Electronic Classroom has been wonderful but we have not had internet services in Okurase. To use internet, people in the village would have to travel at least an hour away and catch an internet café open. Few people travel for internet because transportation is not affordable and few have been exposed to computers so they would not know what to do once they arrived at the internet café.
Developing internet in a remote village that has never had internet before is no easy task. After a year’s intensive work and with the support of a generous donor, we opened satellite internet to the Electronic Classroom in July 2016. The service has a large startup fee and hefty monthly fees. So we will be continuing to raise funds to keep the service going as this service alone will greatly support education and learning in the entire village.
The addition of internet services has allowed us to open a small internet café to serve people traveling through Okurase and to open use to residents who do not participate in Electronic Classroom activities.
Already the benefits of the access to computers and internet have been shown. Students can now take exams on computer. Many have learned keyboarding and are using the internet for projects. Luckily we had a few excess laptops and we have been allowing teachers in local schools to check those out for use. This is huge resource that they did not previously have.
Our goal is to keep the computers and internet services functioning well.
How You Can Help
You can help by funding internet services. At approximately US $900 per month for services, any amount defrays our costs and helps us keep internet going in the village.