Powering up: Catholic Education delivers PC training in East Timor

05/11/2010

Catholic Education East Timor Computer Training News Story
Computer training in East Timor.

Catholic Education, Diocese of Parramatta and Broken Bay Catholic Schools Office have overcome the tryanny of distance and a shortage of power to successfully deliver computer training for 18 teachers in an East Timorese village.

Bethany Catholic Primary Principal Ted Langford and Parramatta Diocese Teaching Educator Jenny Langford conducted the five-day basic computer training workshop for 18 teachers in the village of Same in East Timor during September. Joining Ted and Jenny was John Hession, an Education Officer from Catholic Schools Office, Broken Bay.

The Parramatta and Broken Bay Dioceses have an ongoing partnership to provide teacher training to teachers in the Manafahi district in Maths and English.

While visiting the district earlier this year, the Executive Directors of Schools for Parramatta, Greg Whitby and Broken Bay, Br Anthony Whelan, met with the superintendent of education for the Manafahi district, Sen Carlito. It was during this meeting that Sen requested the computer training classes for him and his staff.

Ted Langford said that the computer training for teachers was timely with the growing demand for technology in the region.

"Each school in the Manafahi district will soon recieve a computer and with the availability of 24-hour electricity coming at the end of the year, computers and laptops are becoming more sought after, particularly by young people," Ted said.

"Through the computer classes, we aim to upskill the teachers so they will be able to integrate technology in the best possible way to support learning for their students."

When the group arrived in Same after a bumpy five-hour drive from the East Timorese capital Dili, they had to figure out how they would source sufficient power to run the computers for the training.

"The village conditions weren’t very conducive to computer education. There is no daytime electricity and very limited numbers of computers," Jenny Langford said. "The plan was to power the laptops overnight when power was available and then run on battery power for the daytime training, however, this did not provide sufficient power for the laptops to last the entire day.’

In the end, the trainers conducted the course in a covered outdoor area which gave them access to a borrowed fuel-based generator to power the computers. Tables, chairs and the whiteboard were transported to the area by truck.

The students used six laptops donated by the Dioceses, as well as four laptops from the village’s teacher resource centre. Each computer was shared between two students.

Despite the challenges, the training was a success.

"The students were so keen to learn," Jenny said. "We began on day one with the very basics, identifying the different parts of a computer and how to turn it on, and ended on day five with each participant presenting their own PowerPoint presentations and word documents which contained graphs, tables, images.

"It was an amazing experience."

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