The Genius Plaza Africa Expedition trip was an amazing two weeks that took place in the second half of April. Our delegation was composed of a diverse group of four individuals from all different job functions and backgrounds.
Our first stop on our journey was to a small farm school just outside of Johannesburg. It was an incredibly sobering experience for all of us, where we began to truly see the depth of how these students lacked. The school was made up of a cluster of 12-15 portables huddled together behind a tall, barbed wire fence and guarded by a few volunteers that served as the school’s security detail.
Touring the school, it was like walking into a different world. Compared to the schools that we are used to in the United States, the experience was like night and day. Many of the students were only motivated to come to school because of a feeding scheme – they would be fed a meal and a half every day for attending school, provided by the state. Teaching materials were basic and use of technology in the classroom was even more rudimentary. The “computer lab” was composed of half a dozen broken down computers that had never been turned on and had never even worked.
After this school, we visited a few other schools in the area before moving onto Kampala, the capital of Uganda, for a brief stay before heading to Lira, a remote town in the remote north of Uganda only a few kilometers from the Sudanese border. There we explored another set of schools ranging from primary catholic schools to private secondary schools. These schools were similar to those that we had found in South Africa, with again, very obvious issues of students not being able to successfully leverage technology in the classroom.
In summary, our experience was an amazing learning experience that really shed a lot of light on the challenges that faced those trying to implement and utilize technology in the classroom. There were a wide variety of issues that we saw, and we’re hopeful that with the introduction of the Genius Offline and other products, we can hopefully facilitate the process and help with the process integrating technology into the classrooms in Africa.