In May 2013, I blogged about the tablet computer program that Opportunity Education Foundation would be piloting in Tanzania. Since then, a dedicated team has worked tirelessly to prepare for the launch of this important program.
So it was a real thrill for me last month to be able to personally visit each of the Tanzanian schools participating in the pilot. The schools were a mix of public and private institutions spread throughout the Tanzanian mainland and the state of Zanzibar. The excitement everywhere we went was palpable, and I was honored to meet President Kikwete of Tanzania and President Shein of Zanzibar, and to learn about their commitment to using technology to magnify educational impacts.
As I traveled to each of the pilot schools, it was truly wonderful to see the enthusiasm of the students, teachers, and school administrators. I made it a point to ask students what they wanted to be when they grew up. The answers were astounding and inspiring: a pilot, a lawyer, a neurosurgeon, a veterinarian, an astronaut, a teacher, and a psychologist. But most gratifying of all was seeing our Opportunity Tablets in the hands of children who are so keen to work hard and improve their lives.
The experience left me more certain than ever that education can be the catalyst for breaking the cycle of poverty. But that’s the “Think Big” part of it. First, we need to “Start Small,” and I believe this pilot program for 1,000 children will be an excellent way for us to quickly flatten the learning curve and find out how this effort could scale.
As the pilot year progresses and we learn more from it, I will post periodic updates.