About Our Centre
The Laare Community Technology Centre was founded by Eric Mibuari, a student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), with the assistance of MIT’s Public Service Center. The aim of this community centre is to increase general computer awareness and literacy in the Laare community by providing cheap, local and accessible training on the use of computers.
The centre particularly targets the youth and seeks to equip them with basic computing skills that they can apply for personal use, in industry and in education. The centre was started in January 2005 and has so far offered various levels of training to more than five hundred students. The centre takes particular note of the economic difficulties of the many people who would like to benefit from its training and facilities and purposely strives to charge the minimal feasible fees.
The centre currently consists of a single room at the Laare Catholic Church compound housing around ten computers. These are used computers which have been donated by MIT. The computers run a combination of Windows XP, Windows 98 and Mac OS and are equipped with the full MS Office suite of applications. There have been two instructors since the beginning of the programme but there is currently one instructor who holds a university diploma in Information Technology. The students currently pay a fee of Kshs. 2000 (US $ 26) to obtain training in computer introduction and the full Ms Office suite of applications. This money is used to pay the instructors a monthly allowance and to maintain the centre.
The centre is run by an Oversight Council of six people. The council consists of the parish priest, three church elders including a women’s representative, and two teachers one of whom is also a youth representative. The founder plays an advisory role to the council, helps the centre with sourcing for extra equipment, organises visits to the centre and is currently responsible for the overall vision of the centre. Together with the instructors these personalities constitute the centre’s leadership.
The schedule of training at the centre varies depending on the number of students enrolled at any given time. During the first phase which had more than fourty students there were five daily sessions each lasting two hours. Each sessions had between six to eight students to ensure that each student got as much computer access and instructor attention as possible. Each group has been taking between two to three months to complete the course. Most of the students are from the local community and include secondary school and primary school students from the area, students who have just completed high school, school teachers, businesspeople and other local ‘professionals’.
The Laare Community Technology Centre (LACOTEC) became a reality in January of 2005. Below are some pictures that highlight the journey that the thought took before ultimately becoming something.