This blog post first appeared on Tablab. It is written by Indranil Das, a rising executive with Ericsson. Indranil participated in a leadership development program alongside Zach Mbasu, TabLab’s Tanzania teacher trainer and Chief Executive Officer of African Maths Initiative.  This program, called Ericsson Global Perspectives, was facilitated by a team that included Ross Wehner, TabLab Founder.

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Few months back, on a bright sunny afternoon I was waiting for my ‘homestay’ host to arrive and pick me up from a school compound in Tanzania. We were there for a global training program and ‘homestay’ was a part of our immersive learning experience — moving us out of our comfort zone, understanding new culture and country. While waiting, I struck a conversation with Zach whom I met few days back.

Zach is one of the NGO leaders who is working on an ambitious project ‘TabLab’ . He is energized by the dream of enabling 250 million kids in rural areas across the world who cannot read or do basic maths. Rather than just relying on traditional educational system, TabLab provides tablet based education material to students in remotest rural areas in Costa Rica, Tanzania, etc. Students learn on their own from the content provided in the tab which ranges from Khan Academy to online materials, quizzes on many topics and subjects.

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Zach Mbasu (blue checkered shirt) in training at Orkeeswa Secondary School, Monduli, Tanzania

While I was talking to Zach trying to understand the novel initiative of TabLab and how it is transforming many lives, my mind was transcended to a news article I read sometime back. It was about Julius Yego, an athlete from Kenya. He won Gold Medal for Kenya in 2015 Beijing World Athletics Meet. When you think about Kenyan Athlete what comes to our mind is a marathon runner. But Julius Yego is not a marathon runner, yet he is becoming a new revelation in World Athletics. He won Gold medal in Javelin. Javelin and Kenya? Doesn’t it sound odd? There is almost no history of Javelin greats in Kenya.

In his early teens Julius Yego was with few other boys and tried his hand in throwing a long stick, not really a Javelin. And at that very moment he realized that he wanted to be a Javelin thrower. He continued to pursue his dream against all odds including his father telling him to quit Javelin. There was no proper infrastructure, no academy for Javelin in Kenya which is predominantly a country for runner. But Yego was a man possessed … he had the conviction and courage to pursue his dream relentlessly. So how did he go about learning tricks of Javelin? He started watching YouTube videos of great Javelin greats and started learning on-line. Rest is history …

 

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Some Maths Links

Vi Hart - Hyperactive videos about beautiful math concepts. Snowdecahedron - A mathematical art installation. Tau - An alternative to pi. BBC Brief History of Math - A Documentary. John Baez - A maths superhero.
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