To educate children today, teaching ABC is not enough. They also have to learn QWERTY. I remember in one of my first classrooms in a London primary school, 15 years ago, where we had one computer in the room and I struggled to do any meaningful whole-class teaching of IT skills. In desperation I finally photocopied the keyboard so that each pupil had a copy in front of them, and together we talked through shift keys and space bars and negotiating the order of the letters.
Of course those kids and their equivalents in London today not only have an IT suite in the school, but each probably have in their pocket an iPhone with QWERTY keyboard. In Fushe Kosove we are still struggling with the challenge I had at Montem Primary School in 1996. We have been IT-free – until yesterday.
Yesterday was a big day. A colleague of Rob’s had heard about our work and offered to help. Would we, he asked, be able to put a secondhand laptop to good use?
Of course yesterday was a big day for others too. And the Royal Wedding meant that British Embassy staff in Pristina had a day of holiday. One of the staff offered to come to Fushe Kosove on her day off. Suddenly we had a mini IT department.
Rachel sat in the smallest of our rooms, and one by one children came out for an encounter with the laptop. Some said they had used a computer before – at an uncle’s house for example – but for others it was their first engagement with a world of electronics. We’ll be able to connect the computer to the internet next week, but for now we just familiarised the children with typing. Some wrote their name, others managed a sentence.
I am arijeta fazlija i live in fush kosov three brothrs two sisters tweve years old
wrote one (in Albanian). And what she wrote means I am here, world. I am connected to you. You can’t ignore me now.
Gjelane’s story is now told in a book published as The Rubbish-Picker’s Wife; an unlikely friendship in Kosovo (Elbow Publishing, 2015) and available on Amazon