Give more to those who have less! This has always been an important objective of our organization, les Amis de Hampaté Bâ. Our charity is constantly searching for ways to give better opportunities and a quality education to our students who come from under-privileged backgrounds. Achieving this goal is especially critical for students in the last year of Middle School and High School, as receiving the BEPC Brevet Diploma in 9th grade or the BAC Diploma in 12th grade could make a big difference in their future, giving them opportunities for jobs or continued studies.
Computer Lab gives access to equal opportunities. It is not easy for our students to succeed when they have long distances to walk to school and at home have no electricity to study in the evening when it gets dark, nor support for help with homework from parents who are illiterate. In addition to a specialized tutoring program set up to help struggling students improve their level, we are now offering the availability of our computer lab after school. Needless to say, our students DO NOT have computers at home, so this opportunity to use Internet with free access after school is a tremendous gift. Our idea is that through the computer lab, even though Niger is one of the poorest countries in the world with the lowest of the UN Human development index out of 187 countries, our students have access to the same tools as students in other countries.
Computer Lab gives access to new research possibilities. We have opened the computer room after school not only for students to better learn computer skills, but especially to conduct research on various topics pertaining to their studies like history/geography, vocabulary, grammar, natural science, physics, philosophy, etc. Students are independent and autonomous, have a sense of liberty and freedom. It motivates them to study and they are proud of mastering computer science.
As Ibrahim, one of our star students, remarked, « I go to the computer lab as often as I can since I want to be sure to have the best chance possible to get my BEPC Diploma. I do research on history and also on geography, which are subjects I am weak in. On Internet after school, I learn better because I can explore these topics calmly at my own rhythm and deepen my knowledge on topics I don’t understand that well in bigger classes, and I can study in a cool place. »
A cool place to be! Of course, the computer lab is not only a perfect place to study and gain knowledge, but it is also an air-conditioned space which beats being at home with 45 degree temperatures common at this time of year in Niger. The after-school computer lab is of course supervised at all times by the computer teacher who keeps an eagle eye on the use of internet, which is restricted to using educational programs and doing research.
Technology effects on students. So far our students are often found to be challenged, engaged, and more independent when using technology. By encouraging experimentation and exploration of new frontiers of knowledge on their own, through the use of technology, they seem to gain a greater sense of responsibility for their work — producing higher quality assignments that reflect the increased depth and breadth of their knowledge and talent. And technology energizes students.
Sidi was proud to observe : « I like to come to the computer lab to improve my skills in typing and making word documents and soon I hope to learn Excel. I feel good about myself because I even know more about using the computer than my teachers! »
Reading and Writing. Students are able to read texts, find information, organize and evaluate it, and express their new knowledge in compelling ways. The use of technology seems to improve students’ motivation and attitudes about themselves and about learning to read and write.
Djamila was happy to say: « I feel so good in the computer room, because I am able to explore texts in French and English on my own and verify my knowledge. It gives me confidence in myself and I feel satisfied. I can work independently and I am so motivated to make progress in my studies. I have definitely improved my capacity to write and express my ideas. »
Hadiza, a young student having problems reading and writing, mentioned: « I love coming to the computer lab, because I can read different texts, improve my vocabulary and check on the spelling of different words which gives me self-confidence. I can also look for definitions and do on-line exercises. It’s simpler than a dictionary, which could be eaten by termites! Since I can’t stay too long after school, I go to the computer lab during recess. At first I was alone, but now the room has groups of students working together. Thank goodness the computer teacher is there during our break too! »
Students help Students: Ability to teach others. Razak feels respected since he masters the computer programs better than his peers. « I am really happy that the computer teacher has given me the task of explaining different programs to other students so they understand better and improve their skills. I am proud to share my knowledge and help others. »
As a result, we believe our students will be far better able to connect with the world through the Internet. We hope that positive effects of implementing this program will include increasing writing skills, better problem solving and critical thinking skills, greater self-esteem and lower drop-out rates of underprivileged secondary pupils with reading and writing deficiencies. Our dream is to bring underachievers up to level and to turn struggling students into confident above average achievers.
We have been able to create new programs which successfully help our students thanks to your generous contributions. Please give any amount possible. Your donations fuel our projects and really make a difference in our students’ lives. Thank you so much!