This morning we had a meeting with HDIF, so needed to be ready to leave our accommodation by 9am. We were collected by a delightful man named Henry, who is the official driver for HDIF. I went down to reception to find him and was asked by reception if I was one of the University students being collected. It turned out Henry had received quite an interrogation about who he was and why he was there. It was reassuring to know our hotel was very conscious about who was coming into the hotel, and luckily Henry found it very amusing. We went outside to find a huge 4×4 waiting for us, after a month of rickshaw’s it was nice to drive in luxury and especially air con to the offices. Henry pointed out key areas of interest to us along the journey, it was hard to take it all in, Dar Es Salaam is such a contrast to Morogoro.
Upon arriving at HDIF we met David McGinty, Team Leader for HDIF, and proceeded to discuss with him about our time in Morogoro and our projects. He wanted to know about any preliminary findings that we might have, I had been expecting to find a gender element to mine but upon quick inspection poverty is the most prominent factor to technology access and usage. It was an incredibly interesting and insightful conversation. HDIF aims to promote sustainability, David explained this meant they did not have company commitments. If another business uses the same business plan and makes it work, that is the important part. This had me thinking about the sustainability of technology. Surely we should be focusing on improving what already exists, rather than trialling new projects would could result in more waste. We also talked about digital literacy and the principles of digital development. Myself and Runi had both been thinking about app designing with the user in mind, basing it on our own research. Runi thinking teachers were most important and myself thinking students. They reminded us that digital learning doesn’t just have one user. It’s the teacher, student, parent, headteacher etc. This reminded us of how complex digital initiatives for education really are.
HDIF works by receiving business plans for education, health, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) which they then assess as to whether a venture will be successful or not. This is the key difference between working with practitioners and researchers. Researchers need to have the proof that it will work, practitioners are aware that the evidence comes later. They were really interested to know how the project could be improved. Access to Shule Direct influenced schools had been our biggest problem. If access had been given before we arrived, there were several more schools we could have visited. However, we did explain that we were aware how difficult school research actually is in Tanzania. I would have liked to spend some more time in Tanzania and to research another area to compare access and response in other places. Did everyone had similar experiences to Morogoro or are there problems centred to that area?
I have really enjoyed getting hands on experience working for the HDIF grantees and seeing where the funding goes. Sustainability is always a huge concern, why fund something that won’t exist when the money goes? It seems that the grantees are hugely aware of this and are making changes as they go to try to ensure this happens. For instance, CSSC where having issues with the Studi Academy app so made key hardware changes. This is something that can’t happen if the grantees are being researched because the changes don’t allow for this. The companies have to be able to adapt to situations if they are going to thrive. It was amazing to be able to have this conversation and to feel that what we had found might be beneficial to both the schools but also the grantees.
We then decided to have a luxurious final day and went out to visit the slipway. This is a complex which has hotels, restaurants, bars, shops and market stalls. Our hotel advised us to visit here, as the whole place is enclosed it has a very safe feel to it. The view onto the sea was amazing and the whole place felt incredibly calm. After the chaos of Morogoro and Dar city centre it was amazing to just relax and explore. It was nice to sit and reflect on this whole month. It has had its ups and downs, but I wouldn’t have changed this for anything. We’ve had a very realistic research experience and getting to know Tanzania has been amazing. Leaving tomorrow is bitter sweet. I wish we had longer to explore and do more research. I hope this isn’t goodbye to Tanzania but see you soon. Karibu Tena Tanzania