Sunday, 21 June 2015

A library on an SD card – for less than a fiver…

I met Omar in Itongoitale, a small village an hour out of Shinyanga.  He teaches Geography and History in the primary school here.

Itongolitale has no electricity and the only water supply is from ponds shared with cattle.  There is no mobile signal and only very occasional minibuses into town.  Some people have radios but batteries are scarce, only five people have solar.  So many people are entirely cut off from the outside world.  They rarely have the means to leave the village, and were not even aware of the Tanzanian election happening in October.  If there is a death, or other newsworthy event, in the next village, someone will walk the 15km to come and tell people face to face..

Malaria and water borne diseases are rife.  People don’t boil or treat their water and there has never been a deworming programme here.  I was told that the water was safe for them because they are used to it but it would be dangerous for me.

There are no computers in the village, and Omar has never used one.  But they teach IT in the school – by drawing pictures of keyboards and hard drives on the blackboard…

Omar told me he liked reading, so I asked him to show me his books.  He had three:  a Swahili/English dictionary, a photocopy of a university text book on African History, and a Geography text book for 13 year olds.  Yet Omar is very affluent by the standards of the village.  He has a smart phone which he uses when he goes into town each month to pick up his salary.  

I gave him a 16Gb sd card for his phone, with hundreds of ebooks in Swahili and English, plus health videos from Thare Machi on avoiding malaria and the need to boil drinking water. He promised to share this content in the school, and as we left he was proudly demonstrating it to a colleague..

A library on an SD card in a village without computers – cost:  less than £5..


  1. So much can be some with accessible technology on the increasingly available mobile phones in rural areas to support education, reading, knowledge and communication.

  2. Hopeful the 16GB sd card will be very useful to him as well as benefiting to all students for study materials.