News & Views

Gamo: Indigenous Knowledge and I.T.

Ethiopia is undergoing a transformation in education access country-wide, including in Indigenous communities like the Gamo of the Western Rift. To assist local students with their studies and to encourage the healthy integration of modern I.T. and Indigenous knowledge, the zonal departments of education and the local NGO ILCA (Initiative for Living Community Action) – a Christensen grantee –  have teamed up to provide 520 XO computers to 13 schools using the One Laptop Per Child system.

The students in these photos are from Sikella school in Arba Minch and Dega Otchollo school near Chencha, in the Gamo Highlands. In addition to using favorite applications like Wikipedia and the Tom Tom music program, students are avid media makers, using the laptops to take photos and record videos, including documenting the activities of elders and parents. Some students have created a computer-based Climate Change Knowledge Club in Arba Minch, and a 1:5 cooperative strategy has each student with a laptop engaging and teaching five others about the technology.

The introduction of the laptops in Dega Otchollo has encouraged some students to stay in school rather than skip class or move to more urban areas, and educators say that many students have become more motivated to learn. Some of the students in these photos include Biniyam, 13, Bereket, 12, and Meskerem, 15.