PCs Go To Africa

February 3, 2006
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GRAND RAPIDS — It doesn’t take very long for a computer to outlive its usefulness these days. Technology continues to leap forward, making today’s cutting-edge PCs tomorrow’s desk calculators.

Even though technology-rich American individuals and businesses can easily declare a two-year-old computer “obsolete,” that same computer could represent the top-of-the-line model in another part of the world.

Recognizing that value of information technology is relative to what else is available, a local business organization has formed a partnership with a Kenyan educational charity to share West Michigan’s unwanted technology with African schoolchildren. Not only are the donated computers newer and better than what is available to these schools, in some cases they are the schools’ first computers.

“Computers in my school have helped a great deal, both for teachers and students,” said Millicent Oketch. Now an exchange student at Calvin Christian High School, Oketch received first-hand benefit from the computers donated to her school in Kenya. “The main beneficiaries are the students. As you know, sciences need a great deal of research, and with the computers we can get more information than from just books.”

For example, Oketch said that she and her fellow physics students were able to better understand principles of sound-wave transmission by watching computer simulations of sound-deadening technology in automobiles.

Next week, Tom Musili, the director of Computers for Schools Kenya, will present information about his organization and its partnership with Grand Rapids-based Christian business group Partners Worldwide.

Through this partnership, Computers for Schools in Kenya has received more than 5,000 computers, most of which have made their way into more than 200 educational institutions throughout the East African nation. In addition to the donated hardware, the organization provides IT training for teachers and school administrators, training more than 1,200 education professionals to date.

Musili and Partners Worldwide invite local business leaders and IT professionals to learn about their donation program on Tuesday, Feb. 14, from 7:30-9 a.m. at Bridgewater Place, 333 Bridge St. NW, Grand Rapids. Interested parties may RSVP by e-mailing info@partnersworldwide.org or calling 224-5874.    

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