The Intel Education Service Corp (IESC), a team of Intel volunteers, went to Egypt in November 2010 to help children and teachers more effectively use the Intel-powered Classmate PCs. Mustapha Abdulai, a test research and development engineer, recaps their second week in Al-Minya, Egypt:
"Al-Minya which was once the capital in ancient times is very different from Beni Suef, it’s larger and a bit more dense (though not as large or as dense as Cairo). We decided to follow the same script as in Beni Suef, so we got our NGO CARE International to get at least one teacher and one technician from each of the 10 schools with CMPCs installed to come for a two-day training at Madrasa Munkshat Al-Fikr. This time the teachers and techs were allowed to take the two training days off so we were ready to go by 9:30am on each day. On the first day we separated the teachers from the techs and gave each the applicable training. As always the teachers and techs had tons of questions so the sessions lasted about an hour longer than we anticipated.
The students couldn’t hide their excitement; in one school they asked the teacher if they could skip their break to continue the lessons being delivered via the CMPC. Hadj showed one girl how to take her picture with the built-in camera. Suddenly murmurs could be heard across the room as all the girls started asking each other how to do that, and within 3 minutes they were all taking pictures of themselves.
Before we set out for this trip we expected that most of the reasons for the low utilization would have been technical, but at the end of our two weeks here in Upper Egypt we found that the greatest obstacle is that the education ecosystem is slow to adapt this technology. Most teachers will use it if it reduced their workload. Most principals will incorporate it into their curriculum only if that was a mandate from the ministry, etc. But we left very hopeful that all these obstacles will be cleared sooner than later. The students love the CMPCs. The few teachers who are using it love it and the remaining teachers that we trained now see how much more effective they can be by using the CMPCs. Things are looking up."