Many things can cause a project to stall. During my visit to Kenya in April 2014 I discovered various problems that had caused projects to stall, each was fixable, and the fix will enable the schools to continue getting the benefit of their respective projects. These things, are similar to speedbumps on the roads, ubiquitous in Kenya and many other countries. If we stop when we reach a speedbump, because they take a little more energy to cross, we’d be blocked indefinitely. Instead we’ve learned to keep going, albeit slowly, to cross the speedbump and continue our journey.
The schools need to commit to crossing speedbumps in their respective projects by taking ownership and committing to get problems resolved. I, and others, are very willing to help people who make the effort.
Here are examples of some of the problems that had caused projects to stall:
- A Server computer wouldn’t start in a recently commissioned computer lab in a secondary school. The school was waiting for an engineer who hadn’t arrived in the last few months. The problem was related to the power supply in that computer. There are at least a dozen similar computers available and the hard disk from the server computer could be installed in one of these computers to restore service to the computer lab. It hasn’t been used for the last 5 months because of this relatively simple problem. Apparently the schools were offered free training when the lab was commissioned but declined. If they’d taken the training, perhaps they’d have had the skills and confidence to diagnose and fix the problem far earlier rather than waiting indefinitely.
- Another school’s computer lab had no internet connection any more. Apparently the SIM card had disappeared from the Safaricom network router. There seemed a lack of curiosity or interest to understand what had happened. A replacement SIM card, with data credit, would cost less than 2,000 Kenyan Shillings (KES) around $25 USD, a sum that the school can probably afford. The lack of Internet access severely limited how the computers were being used by the pupils and staff. Of course, it’d be wise to protect the replacement SIM card so it doesn’t disappear too.