I have now been two days commuting to EIT, 23 km from Asmara, in the staff bus, and I am glad to report that things are getting up to speed for the ICT4EEDU project.
Finns and myself are learning to trust our Eritrean colleagues. At EIT, everything that was planned to happen has happened. Certainly, having direct line to the acting president of EIT has helped, but the college deans are certainly happy of having capacity improvement projects, a good change from the recent Chinese infrastructure projects.
The expansion needs of the university has resulted in Chinese companies building lots of infrastructure. The beautiful library and the engineering workshops have recently been finalized and handed over. Management is now finding the way on how to best put those buildings into use, small details here and there hinder their immediate use. Moreover, a whole new and big building to host College of Science is being erected 400 meters from the campus. After it is finished (2 years?), Chinese will move on to build the College of Engineering and Technology.
ICT4EEDU and the Digital Library projects will support EIT to bring these new buildings to life: better networking, equipment will be in place and staff will be trained to better serve the academic community.
The edtech lab is my personal petty component of ICT4EEDU, and I am very happy that it is starting to take shape in the heads of the academic staff at EIT. I have had to explain several times what is my vision for an edtech lab. Part of my message is that edtech lab is whatever they want it to be, as it will depend and be built upon the strengths and experiences of the faculty members. Dean Teklay Tesfagazi has been quick to already see the link between the senior projects at his college and the role of the edtech lab. It has come naturally to him that the edtech lab will be the right place to nurture such kinds of projects that focus on education.
A visit to the computer labs has brought up the topic of maintenance. After a long life of more than 10 years, desktop computers are already giving up. Replacements are to be found soon if the quality of education is not to suffer. In a more positive light, I was impressed with the furniture of the labs: tables and chairs are locally made and perfectly suited for a computer lab, even if it is an old style one. This increases my confidence of procuring those items from Eritrean makers, rather than buying foreign ones. It will be fun to co-design the furniture for the lab in due time!