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The World Bank has predicted that 70% of children in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) could face learning poverty because of COVID-19. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, many children without access to technology were already at an educational disadvantage. The surge in digital learning during COVID-19 made it worse. Computers can reduce learning poverty when children in low-income communities receive them. Also, access to computers helps children develop the skills they need to succeed in school and beyond.

The “Homework Gap”

Even if students access technology during school, a lack of access outside of school hinders many. Students may be at an additional disadvantage if they live in areas without libraries, churches or other community organizations. These places have computers that students use. Without a personal computer or a local public facility that offers one, students may have a hard time studying and completing homework.

Access to computers can reduce learning poverty by bridging the gap between students who can readily complete homework and those who cannot. As digital learning becomes increasingly popular, unequal access to digital learning tools becomes a more urgent problem to address.

COVID-19’s Devastation on Technological Learning Gaps

Technological learning gaps became more damaging during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some schools taught classes online. However, others had to shut down completely due to a lack of resources and funding. The World Bank found that some schools in LMICs have been closed for up to 250 days since the pandemic began. Some are unable to reopen. As a result, hundreds of millions of children around the world have lost a full year or more of schooling.

Girls in low-income communities are at a heightened disadvantage because school closures can perpetuate inequality and poverty. Access to computers can reduce learning poverty by giving children and teachers the opportunity to continue their courses online, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the World Bank, studies in Brazil, South Africa and India concur that a month of school closure translates into a month of learning loss. These learning losses then translate into a 10% lifetime earning loss for children in countries where school closures are long.

Camara Education

Camara Education is a charity that provides computers, learning programs and teacher training to schools in Africa. The charity, founded in Ireland in 2005, receives donations of computer equipment from companies that no longer need it. Camara works with specialist partners to wipe the technology and remarket it. This raises money for refurbished computers. Then, the charity sends the refurbished computers to schools in Africa. “Hubs” of Camara staff in Africa help schools install the computer equipment and download software. They also train teachers on the technology. Camara has provided more than 3.7 million children with computer access since 2005.

Camara as a Model for Decreasing Learning Poverty

Access to computers can reduce learning poverty by closing the “homework gap.” It allows children to continue their education online until COVID-19 no longer poses health risks. Organizations like Camara Education are working to help provide low-income students with the technological resources they need to escape learning poverty. As the pandemic continues to close schools and force them to teach online, millions more children could benefit from access to digital learning resources.

– Cleo Hudson
Photo: Flickr

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Does your computer process slowly? Are you in need of new software? These are two common reasons why people dispose of computers and laptops. Although they are still in working order, they are tossed away in garbage bins. Is there a sustainable solution? Camara Education thinks so.

Camara Education is dedicated to improving literacy and believes everyone deserves quality education. They collect technology such as computers, keyboards, tablets and smartphones and donate them to developing countries. They hope that by improving education, these communities will be able to lift themselves out of poverty.

Founded in Dublin, Ireland in 2005, Camara Education has been highly successful. Because of their efforts, around 1 million children have had access to technology in classrooms. In the last 10 years, they have shipped 62,000 computers to countries in need.

The organization has donated eLearning centers to over 2,000 schools in Ireland, Africa and the Caribbean. They have installed 40,000 computers, trained over 11,000 teachers to use technology in classrooms and are currently in operation in Jamaica and seven countries in Africa: Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Lesotho, Tanzania and Zambia. They also have headquarters in the U.S. and U.K.

Camara Education believes that technology can open up an entirely new world of information for students and teachers. For this reason, they believe it is essential that all children have access to computers and information and communications technology (ICT).

This year, they plan to provide approximately 3,500 computers to students in Kenya.

“There’s no way the schools could afford this on their own,” Chief Technology Officer of Camara Education for Africa Aseidas Blauvelt says. “They could buy from their informal market, but they’d have no guarantee anything would work, they wouldn’t have training from us and they wouldn’t have a server.”

The team members erase all data from donated computers, keeping all personal information safe. The hard drive is wiped using a U.S. Department of Defense program, which makes it impossible to retrieve any data.

Recently, Camara Education has partnered with the Ministry of Education in Zambia to integrate technology and ICT into schools. On July 16, Camara Education in Dublin sent 1,110 computers to Lusaka, Zambia. With this new shipment, the organization has sent over 11,000 computers to Zambia.

CEO of Camara Education in Zambia says, “There is a strong demand from educational institutions for Camara services. Camara Zambia has been working with the Ministry of Education here to expand our reach to schools. The government this year added Computer Studies to the curriculum for grade 8 and 9 students, so there is much more interest in ICT and education.”

Ultimately, the Ministry of Education and Camara Education hope that the technology will teach valuable tech, communication and learning skills, alleviate poverty in Zambia and promote a prosperous and educated society.

Instead of throwing out old computers, visit http://camara.org/give-computers/ to donate and find drop-off locations.

Kelsey Parrotte

Sources: Camara 1, Camara 2, Camara 3, LinkedIn
Photo: Camara