Ventures For Good
Serving the under-served in the US and Africa with education and technology

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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Friday, September 20, 2013Up and At 'Em! We had an early morning meeting with the Ministry and all the Members once again to report on our 10 day journey and the various meetings. I had to present a report. There were a few items that I typed in bold print. Diligently, everyone read the report and Mrs. Margaret Nsereko, the Commissioner really zeroed in on the bolded print and asked the members to comment. They disagreed with the finding that there was no ICT in the curriculum. Well, I explained that this item referred to the primary school children curriculum, so that was OK. They researched the teacher's curriculum and discovered that there was indeed some ICT training. I guess I was surprised there was any, but then surprised again when I saw it was only 3 hours. What can you learn about ICT in 3 hours. This just made me once again believe that the Microsoft ICT training was an essential piece to getting teachers up to speed. They were surprised that the Primary Teachers Colleges had no internet, pointing out that this was supposed to be in place because the teachers pay a fee for ICT. They were going to get to the bottom of that. In the end, I understood them all to be in favor of the project. I am now to send a Concept Note to Annet (to edit) with the eventual recipient to be the Permanent Secretary. Success! I must also compose a Memorandum of Understanding for Ronald Ssemyalo who will use it to seek funding for the research element of this pilot project. We were going to visit St. Lawrence University for Eric to give a talk to the students on Web development. He was so prepared, had his presentation on his iphone connected to my portable projector (small and charged) So elegant, really. Anyway, though, protocol set in. When I went to confirm the time, I was told that first, I needed to write to the University, then to the faculty to schedule the time. Now they tell us! Needless to say, we did not go as we were leaving the next day. We went back to the hotel to work on the Web. I now have as the Moodle Distance Learning site and as my facebook page and as my responsive web design site and tons of categorized photos. Eric DiBari, web programmer par excellence, is great!
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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Thursday, September 19, 2013Nancy's birthday! Today we left Jinja, but we decided to take a quick trip to the police station to pick up the stolen internet radio. It had been at Spire Road School but the guard was tied up and they stole the internet radio and a monitor, but in their haste, left behind the safes they had stolen elsewhere. So today, we wanted to get the radio back. We needed to take someone from Spire Road school with us, so that was one trip. The guard no longer worked there, so we had to go to another school. He wanted to shower first but Francis just got a note from him to speak to a certain police officer who was familiar with the case. Next we were off to the police station, finally found the right officer and he was going to help us. Unfortunately, he did not have the key, looked all over but the person with the key was “taking tea” so we had to wait for him. Then he came to open this garage with all the stolen merchandise piled up on each other. The radio was under a bicycle and a motorcycle in this really cramped space. Finally we had it and we were on our way. It was a long and bumpy ride back to Kampala. Before we could get to the hotel, we needed to get the XO tablet from Dr. Ssemyalo because I promised it to Annet at the Ministry. That took a while because the traffic was horrific and our driver had to circumvent it. Ronald and I discussed the pilot and how he would conduct the research, introduced me to Christine who will be working on it. He wants a Memorandum of Understanding so that he can use the project and our alliance to raise funds for research. One more stop to meet Kenneth at his workplace to pick up the faulty XOs to bring back to the US for repairs if I cannot fix them. I had picked up a cold so I was soooo happy to reach the Olive Garden Hotel again, where I could rest. Just one more thing on today’s agenda: writing a report to the Ministry on all we have done this week. I have a meeting scheduled for 9 a.m., God and Manisule willing.
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Wednesday, September 18, 2013This time, the director at Kampala University Jinja Campus encouraged us to hold the training at the Jinja Campus, that internet was available. I needed it to be able to show the teachers the new Distance Learning site, so I could continue with lessons. We arrived on time but we expected to be there two hours earlier to set up properly. Our driver’s clock battery died and he was very late. Anyway, according to protocol, we needed to meet with the director first. Do you believe he greeted me with "So, Joanne, you put on some weight since last year!" I was dumbfounded and couldn't speak, but he indicated that was a compliment. (Not so! but funny!) We chatted while he took a few calls in between, so class started late. The teachers who were there represented a few schools and they were very excited to learn about the XO tablet. I distributed about 12 of them. Some teachers partnered up. After introducing a few activities on the XO tablet which has a Career Dreams interface, I asked the teachers to pick a career choice and investigate one activity from that career choice. Then after an hour, I asked each of them to come up to the projector, plug in and tell the rest about their activity. That worked out so well, because as they explained the activity the others opened it up on their tablets. Then it came time to show the distance learning site, I must say that while the teachers were working, we were trying to get on the internet. The tech woman who was excellent last year tried everything. So did Eric. They called the provider. The director called the provider but it turned out that according to them, thieves cut the fiber optic cable behind the building. So we could not show the website. (Luckily, when we went back to the hotel, I showed Francis a bit of it on the REALLY slow connection there. I don’t think I can stay at the Brisk again until they get a better connection. Each page took a couple of minutes to load, at least and that was only in the lobby where we had to camp out.) At the end of the training, the director who wrote a speech delivered it, hailing Kampala University as the place to go to school. Then the inspector of schools came back and also gave a speech indicating that this innovation was going to bring the African students up so that they will be ready to enter the 21st century marketplace.
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Tuesday, September 17, 2013We again went to St. Gonzaga. Today was about Problem Solving, but I wanted to finish Literacy first. We did an ART to Word exercise. We used the picture “The Sleeping Gypsy”. I asked them to probe what they saw, what it could represent, indicated that there are many literacies: art, reading, oralcy, content area, etc. Into the problem solving mode, we used the XO to do the memorize activity. They created new games. Some had never touched a computer or a mouse so there was help needed. One person, an ICT person from the Iganga Teachers Center, was advanced so he found the Gnome desktop. The next exercise was Tux Math, then GCompris (which Francis led), then we did a Scratch activity, making and animating sprites. Peter actually drew his own sprite. He will be good at the PTC center.
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Monday, September 16, 2013First day of training. It really took us awhile to find a place to conduct the training. Even though they knew I was coming months ahead, the director was putting Francis off. So it came down to the very day. When we went to Kampala University Jinja campus, the director was not there. Apparently he was in Kampala discussing the government alliances with the private universities. So, quickly, we used our back-up plan and went to St. Gonzaga, where Betty the head mistress, greeted us warmly. That school is the site of XO installations. We found the XOs in good shape, all chargers were working. They were secure in a locked closet, and we spoke to a student who said he loves working on them Betty rotates the use of them. Training still started late however, because Betty had to go with the driver to get the car battery recharged. Teachers came in whenever. We should have had from 2-5 with them. They came from many schools, some with and some without computers. The inspector of schools came in to interrupt and spoke about the damage the teacher strike is causing to the students. She insisted that they had to at least had to sign in at their home school before they came to training. Ironically, those from St. Gonzaga left to sign in but did not return. Politics! The training began with a presentation on Literacy in the 21st century, and we proceeded through Reading and Writing exercises. On the XO, I showed them how to access an e-book, Grimm’s Fairy Tales that I had pre-loaded. We read Hans in Luck and then I led a discussion on the meaning of the story. One of the teachers was studying philosophies of education and asked about Socrates. So I used some Socratic questioning to probe deeper into the meaning of the story. Next we talked about Writing, and I gave a presentation on all kinds of writing exercises: informational, creative writing and we used the Labyrinth activity to map out a story about Francis, my head teacher. I distributed some handouts and one of the teachers asked how I would relate the story according to the guidelines in the handout. I presented the background, the characters, the action, the climax and conclusion. The story was about Francis, his family and friends, and how he is the chairman of the Sports Competition, which just happened to win 2 gold medals. Very impressive, made a nice story too.They really liked that. We went back to the hotel. Eric is so helpful. He takes lots of pictures, keeps the good ones and uploads them to the facebook page that he created.
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Sunday, September 15, 2013Today we went to church at 10. Nice church, nice Mass but it wasn’t in English as we anticipate. Then Kenneth, Francis’ wife and children, Eric and I, along with our buddy, Manasule, went off to the Source of the Nile. We saw the exact spot where Lake Victoria meets the Nile River, where the spring bubbles up. Lots of pictures. Very nice boatride. Kenneth was scared, funny because he is big, in great shape and CAN swim, unlike myself. I guess I have been on more boats though. Following that trek, we took off for Itanga Falls, which Manasule said was only 30 minutes away. HA! Time stands still here. A couple of hours later, we got there over bumpy roads. Beautiful falls, really rapids, rushing, clean water over drops and rocks. Lots of pictures. Cool, refreshing and a really nice site to see. It only took an hour to return but we were very tired. We ate at a pork skewer local place in Jinja, delicious roasted pork served with avocados, casaba, tomato/onion salad. Manasule ate elsewhere because he is Muslim. We didn’t realize he wouldn’t stay.
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Saturday, September 14, 2013We drove to Mbale, a 3 hr. ride, to visit coffee plantations. We enjoyed a nice education, saw the coffee seeds growing on trees. We went to the “Experimental” Plantation, where they study growing conditions, diseases, etc. We waited for a gentleman to give us the information. He told us that the seeds grown there are sent all over Uganda; they are the source. The seeds are fermented and crushed there removing the pulp and then sent to the factory to be roasted and exported. They also grow the seedling plants, a variety of them to distribute to farmers who want to grow coffee. Then we traveled to town to see if we could buy some coffee. Funny thing! They do not brew coffee, they serve Nescafe! Was an adventure to a new town, a little bigger than Jinja, a little more on the dusty road side. We ate at a Chinese restaurant but everyone ordered local food, which they claimed to be more filling. I guess it was because I couldn’t eat much of it. Pasho, Matuka and Rice are staples here. Long ride home in the dark on highways crowded with trucks and people! Good driver, Manasule!

Friday, September 13, 2013More meetings today. First meeting was with the Primary Teachers College in Jinja where we met the Director. He was so impressed with what we are doing and happily agreed to have his teachers trained and we will probably put computers in his quasi demo school where his preservice teachers do student teaching. Francis Etyang, Eric and I demonstrated the XO and the XO tablet. We are fast becoming a dog and pony show. The Director will appoint a head tutor to be our first point of contact. Francis will be meeting with her to explain the program as well. Next, in our political correctness, we went to the municipal building to meet with the Senior Education Officer, who is an arm of the ministry in Jinja. On the way, we had a nice meeting with the Inspector of Schools who visits many schools to ensure quality control and report back to the ministry. She was so impressed that she made a strong case that she should have the XO tablet to do her reports. This was certainly a visible person with whom to place a tablet as it will be seen by many and her reports would be digital from the start. We thought we were done for the day, just going to say hello to the Senior Education office outside. But no, he led us back to his office and for the third consecutive time today, we put on our impressive show. They really loved the Brookstone projector as well. Then we came back to the hotel and did work on the XOs trying to put some new activities on them in preparation for the trainings next week. They are going to be limited to the hours of 2 to 5 as recommended by the SEO so as not to incur the expense of lunch and drinks. The teachers are striking so it took a while for Francis to get written permissions for the teachers to attend training. If they don’t show up for work on Monday they need permission to be away.
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Thursday, September 12, 2013We drove to Jinja to meet with Francis Etyang, our head teacher who has been continuing with the program in my absence. This was on our way to visit with one of the PTCs that the Ministry suggested. It was Bishop Willis Primary Teachers College. We spoke with Gracious Stephen Kalya, Principal at Bishop Willis Core PTC, Rosetti Naigaga, Deputy Principal Preservice, James Onyait, Deputy Principal Outreach, Peter Mukungu, Mathematics and ICT tutor. We explained how we wanted to include the pre-service and in-service teachers in the project by providing ICT education and training on the XOs. We demonstrated both laptops and they were thoroughly fascinated. They suggested we work with their demonstration school, which is a winning proposition. In this manner both teachers and primary students will benefit. They will be learning as part of their college studies and practice teaching the primary students as it integrates into the lessons they design and implement. Peter will be the point person. We were disappointed to find that they are not internet connected- were supposed to be connected by last December. We thought perhaps the Ministry, upon hearing this, will push the Internet installation. In the meantime, Peter would be able to save some of the lessons on CDs or flash drives and bring them to the teachers in the PTC ICT lab. We drove back quite satisfied, ate some delicious Jack Fruit and had Rolex (rolled eggs) for dinner.
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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Wednesday, September 11, 2013A day in history to always remember! We met Dan Bwanika along with Madut Peter, Guild President; Lawrence Nserevo, Human Resource Director; Frank Mbaaga, Vice-Chancellor; Jane, the External Director (student exchange),; and student Geuma Yona, I presented the project, speaking about the Ministry, the PTCs, the XOs and the tablets. I could demonstrate the tablet on the projector but passed around the XO1 and the XO tablet. Everyone was pleased with the work being done and proposed but really wanted to know how they could connect with us. I explained that I could not add more schools to the project at this time, but Eric is going to give a lecture to the ICT students next Thursday or Friday. Next we met with Prince Joseph Mulongo of the UNESCO site of Kisubi Tombs and purchased some more paintings for sale at the next benefit. We stopped for lunch at the Chinese Restaurant again. We tried to make contact with a Fabric Retailer who could help us find a distributor. Unfortunately, she wanted to be a middle man and this would be too cumbersome, especially in expediting fabrics to use in the next fundraising Fashion Show. Next we drove to meet with Ronald Ssemyalo and discussed how Kampala University can use this project as a research project. He was enthusiastic and had a few suggestions. He now has the XO1 and an XO tablet to review so that he can suggest a distribution of the 12 XO1s and the 12 XO tablets that provides for a good research study. The computers are different, the XO1 focusing on activities around a generic user, while the XO tablet is based on potential career choices. I spoke about running a distance learning group of classes, perhaps in conjunction with my colleagues who service Kenya, for the pre-service, inservice teachers in Jinja and Uganda, including those who come to the trainings next week. That would be for ICT (Microsoft) and the XO integration. Ronald asked if I could become a Fulbright Scholar and come to work on a curriculum for integrating ICT into the teaching curriculum. I described our EdMedia program and told him I could help him develop such a program. Next, we met with Chris Salide from MTN, a huge internet provider. We explained the project. Unfortunately, I could not show him the XO1 and the XO tablets because I loaned them to Ronald Ssemyalo. I showed him pictures, and the projector. He was impressed enough to set up an introduction to their MTN foundation Head. We are to write a proposal and set up a meeting to discuss. Next, we met up with Lawrence O, who was a fashion designer. Amazing guy. Creative designer! He wants to be involved in fashion show. Gave us some good leads as to where to find fabrics and we received an education on which fabrics were best and why. He gave us two leads to follow to find wholesale fabrics shipped from Ghana, using DHL at the best and safest cost. One was (they would send us samples before an order is to be placed) ;the other could be gotten by another contact he would mail to us. He can be reached at
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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Tuesday, September 10, 2013We were up early this morning to visit with the Acting Director of the National Currriculum Development Center, Angela Kyogaba. We explained the project, demoed the XO1 and the XO tablet briefly. We spoke about integrating technology into the primary curriculum. She indicated that there was no part of the current curriculum, even the revised areas, that use technology, that some schools where parents pay had technology but not the public schools. She was very interested in the project, wanted one of the tablets for her son. We purchased the curriculum from Grade 3 through Grade 7 so that when I am working on lessons with the PTC teachers, I will be able to follow that curriculum. It was about $28 US dollars. She also supported the project. Must keep her in the loop. Great meeting. Next we (Kenneth’s brother David, Eric and I) left to go back to the Ministry to meet with the Assistant Commissioner, head of ICT, Patrick Muinda. He was very busy as the teachers are going to strike on Monday. He met with us because he thought this was a running initiative of which he was unaware. We explained that it was a pilot, that we wanted him in the loop, but as we make progress and achieve success, we would expect him to participate in a wider implementation. He was happy that we explained it properly. Again, I demoed the XO1 and XO tablet briefly. Very good meeting. Next, we went to Kisubi Tombs and met Prince Joseph Mulongo. We took a really nice tour of the tombs and purchased some paintings. David and the driver, ManaPrince Joseph is now an old friend. His paintings were among the art works that I sold at the Dominican College African Art Exhibit. We went to lunch, ate some terrible local food (first time it was bad). Then Eric and I headed back to the guest house and Eric miraculously installed Moodle on my Ventures for Good Website, so that I now have a place to host classes for the teachers! It is at and I can now start. I am very familiar with Moodle as I administer it for Dominican College, but now I understand even more about how to set it up initially. Great day! Kenneth met us for dinner, Indian restaurant, Pavement. Excellent!
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Monday, September 9, 2013

Monday, September 9, 2013We had a very productive day. Kenneth Mwandara, Eric DiBari and I visited with the Commissioner of Teacher , Instructor Education and Training, Mrs. Margaret Nsereko, along with the Assistant Commissioner of Secondary Education, Mr. Ndyabahika Elicab Web; and Principal Education Officer/Health Teacher Education, Nabunoni Alice; Education Officer/Secondary Teacher Education, Andrew Taburo; and SEO/Secondary Teacher Education, Nabirya Sarah Hilda; and SEO/Primary Teacher Education, Annet Kajura Mugisha. We discussed our proposal which was originally written by me and revised by Annet Kajura. It calls for a collaborative effort of the Ministry, the Teacher Education Institutes (PTCs), Kyambogo University which conducts teacher training of the tutors who train the primary school teachers, and NCDC, the curriculum writing body. All agreed that the proposal should go forward as a pilot. We should work with 2 PTCs in Jinja because that is where our pilot will be based. We should visit them later this week, determine their needs, investigate their internet connectivity and their knowledge of ICT. These pre-service PTC teachers at Wyangoga and the pre-service/inservice teachers at Bishop Willis in Iganga will be trained on campus in their ICT labs through distance learning and also trained on the use of the XO computers. The inservice teachers also work in the schools and they should extend their knowledge to primary school students. We will also continue to work with the 3 schools already established as XO sites in Jinja, Spire Road, St. Gonzaga, and the Army Boarding School (additional training is planned for next week) and extend training to teachers in the neighboring schools. We agreed that we could not extend too far, because success in this pilot will be the feedback needed to get this kind of instruction into the primary school curriculum and into the teacher training institutes. We are expected back next Thursday with a report of our findings in Jinja and Iganga. Next we met with two ICT officers, the first: Senior Information Scientist, Mukooyo Geoffrey Humphrey who explained the internet backbone is in place in Uganda and schools should be receiving Internet access within 3 years. The second ICT officer, Patrick Muinda, was busy and we made an appointment to see him tomorrow at 11. I emailed him the proposal for discussion. Next, we went to Kyambogo University and we met with Dean of the Faculty of Education, Akikoni Joyce Asiimuve (sp?) and Lecturer in ICT, Ssemanda Emore (sp?) We explained the project. At first, Mr. Ssemanda wanted us to include another PTC that was a bit more advanced and in an urban area, but we explained that we needed to localize our efforts to be able to monitor the activities. They were very supportive and we gave them a copy of the proposal. They explained that Kyambogo University trains the tutors who go to the PTCs to train the preservice and inservice teachers. It is a “train the trainer” model. They also wanted us to investigate what is currently being done at these PTCs. We plan to visit them Thursday and Friday. Time ran out so we didn’t get to visit the NCDC, National Curriculum Development Center but will go at 9 tomorrow morning. The NCDC develops the curriculum for the primary schools. It was recently revised with thematic units, transitional units. We will try to get a copy either there or at the PTCs. If our project shows success, the feedback of best practices may find itself included in the next revision. Eric and I returned to the guest house, ate, wrote and rested. A Good Day!
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Sunday, September 8, 2013Bobby’s birthday! We woke about 9 and had some breakfast. Great little guest house with nice internet connections and plenty of space in my room and outdoors under a lovely hut where we are able to work. Kenneth came to visit at about 10 and we worked on what we wanted to discuss with the members of the Ministry of Education and Sports. We reiterated much of what we had discussed through email, reviewed the proposal we had earlier submitted to the Ministry. Eric was so helpful in creating LiveCDs and Sugar on a Stick. I had done some of the work at home, but was running into problems but Eric was able to save the day. We worked until 4 when we left for a church service. About 7, we went for Chinese dinner with David and Joseph who returned. Back at the guest house, Eric and I plugged in the electronics we would need for our 10 a.m. appointment tomorrow. I am getting bitten by one little mosquito, so I will close for now and get under the tent. It is about 1 a.m.
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Saturday September 7, 2013We arrived in Entebbe, Uganda at 10:30 p.m., actually early. We stopped in Brussells for a 4 hour layover. Kenneth, Joseph and Doreen picked us up. By the way, I am traveling with my nephew, Eric, who is an excellent companion and a superb web developer. What a find! We stopped at a local restaurant and ate local food. Excellent. We arrived at the Olive Garden and finally went to sleep about 1:30 Ugandan time. DOG tired!!!!
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Friday September 6, 2013We left from JFK in NY on Brussells Airlines for our over 24 hour trek to Entebbe, Uganda airport. It is Harper's (would be) 2nd birthday. She is now the angel who watches over me and I thought about her throughout our trip. She is my inspiration and she motivates me to do good! The flights were long and uneventful, thankfully. Brussells Airlines and its attendants MUST be commended on their polite efficiency. They fed us a lot too!
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