The computer literacy program in Grande Saline, which started with one laptop powered by a gas generator in July 2014, has continued to expand and grow. Now, technology and computer classes are part of the graded curriculum at the primary school in Grande Saline. Students in all different grade levels enjoy computer classes taught by teacher, Mr. Elysee. The computers were donated by the Pall Corporation, the SUNY Broome BIT program, and Geodis. All of the computers were refurbished and set up by Bridging the Digital Divide volunteer, Jack Rappaport. And thanks to Dr. Gay Canough and ETM Solar Works (as well as our Health for Haiti students), the computers are powered by the sun. This is a great use of “old” technology that, in most cases, was just gathering dust here in the United States. Now these laptops are the center of a vibrant computer literacy program for hundreds of children. Most of the primary school students have now moved beyond the fundamentals of learning the parts of a computer and basic hardware, to mastering file structure and word processing skills.
In addition to learning “offline” computer literacy skills the students in Grande Saline also have some access to the Internet, which allows them to reach far beyond their classroom. They recently enjoyed a lesson where they visited this Health for Haiti blog and were excited to see pictures of their school and community as well as their friends from SUNY Broome. The students are learning how to use a browser to search the Internet and developing plans for communicating with students in the United States.
It is easy to see that the children enjoy their computer class, and their teacher often reports that the kids are very enthusiastic about what they are learning. Much like students here in the United States, the students in Grande Saline get comfortable with the computers very quickly. The videos below show the 3rd and 4th year students working together in class.
The enthusiastic students have made quite an impression on adults in the local community. There have been several requests to begin an evening or weekend adult computer literacy class in Grande Saline. Mr. Elysee is working on developing a training program that would last nine months, with an assessment every three months. At the end of the program, adult students who successfully completed the program would earn a computer literacy certificate. Adult students would also learn the fundamentals of computer hardware, basic word processing skills, more advanced lessons about spreadsheets and presentations, and some basic training in search engines. Although there is a lot of interest from local adults, there is still work to be done to arrange adult classes in Grande Saline. We hope to help the community to set up this new program in the future.
Grande Saline is not the only site that has seen a transformation from access to technology. Health for Haiti is also helping to support a few similar computer literacy programs in Port au Prince, and is very happy to hear that children and adults are making great progress towards achieving basic computer literacy skills. Below are some pictures from a busy computer lab in Cite Soleil.
We are grateful for all of the support for this and other Health for Haiti programs. We hope that new educational and economic opportunities and access to technology might provide some tools that could help each community to make sustainable positive changes. One thing is for certain, as these programs continue to grow and reach more learners, they become a source of pride for the entire community.