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Daily Nation : February 10th 2014
4 TECHNOLOGY Seems like we are done with all the hype about the tablet BY KAHENYA KAMUNYU Kahenya@ablehq.co.ke T here is really no genuine reason to own a tablet. All the reasons we have are a figment of our imagination. As a country, we have truly con- sumed our fair share of tablets. A short while ago, being a news anchor without a tablet was a supposed indicator of a media house facing financial or technological challenges. Romantic meals were peppered with tablet moments, as were weddings and funerals. Walking into a business meeting without a tablet in some quarters drew suspicions about your technological capabilities. The fad is dying, and pen and paper are taking back their place in meetings. What has happened? Hype driven expectations The personal computing era was only equivalent to man discovering fire. The portable computing era, however, was just about the same as man discovering he could carry a pocketful of fire and use it anywhere. The tablet, able to send different types of messages from anywhere, was the portable best friend. Now the best thing it does is keep your child engaged with interactive games. The tablet was supposed to van- quish the laptop, but it ended up collaborating with it to try and kill the desktop. We expected too much of the tab- let to a point of lying to ourselves about its combined abilities, that is, portability and multi-purpose computing ability. The weighty expectations of the tablet were so high that we believed they could solve any computing problem. Technically, the benefits of the tablet may outweigh its handicaps, but sadly, this is only in the perfect world – such as the utopian principle that they could solve some of the current education problems. Yes, books and pens might be more expensive in the long run, but they cannot be replaced by the tablet. That is a fallacy touted by device manufacturers and marketers. Tablets can only compliment a well-rounded education system. Computing forms a fundamental education block, but we need to look at “old-school solutions” first before going forward. Otherwise, we will remain a market of consumers and not developers. No more privacy Criminals are very innovative these days. In the unfortunate even that you become a temporary visitor to the boot of your car, you could take solace in the fact that the data in your tablet, despite being among the items stolen from you, is secure. At the worst case, the data in it is secure and can be erased remotely. Since you have copies of your data backed up online, you do not have anything to worry about, right? If you still fool yourself into such a notion, you actually do not deserve to own a tablet. Innovative criminals can now unlock some of the most “advanced security systems” on tablets in a matter of minutes, gaining access to your email, text messages, and pictures. The scary bit is if you use your tablet to manage your banking electronically. It would be more convenient for criminals to transfer money out of your account electronically than to put you through time consuming threats and slaps for your ATM and the pin number. While the tablet is dying in ideology, it is still on retail as a device. FILE | DAILY NATION The “phablets” are very likely the final generation of portable devices of this calibre. Sales will still grow, not out of usefulness, but out of a false ideology of elitism. Tablets are now paperweights, as their owners sit in front of laptops and desktops to earn a living. Look at it this way: Apple and Lenovo are still manufacturing desktop devices. The writer is the CEO of Able Wireless Company (www.ablehq.co.ke), a media streaming service provider TALENT DEVELOPMENT Making of leaders at Aga Khan Academy, Mombasa The Aga Khan Academy, Mombasa, a microcosm of the Kenyan society for its accommodation of students from different backgrounds, is the first of a network of schools established to prepare exceptional students for future leadership roles. The Academy is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. Every year, jointly with the Aga Khan Foundation East Africa and government primary schools in the coast region, it organises a Talent Identification event to select and coach highly motivated Standard Six students of exceptional intellectual ability and leadership potential. The inclusion of these students into the Academy satisfies its vision, which is to identify, nurture and retain academically able students who are committed to bringing about positive change in society. Their selection opens up a world of opportunities for them and their communities. It gives them the chance of an education that they would not have otherwise had. The Academy has recently com- pleted its selection of students for the 2013-14 academic year. Among the students selected include Lovely Mughalu from Kachororoni Primary School in Ganze District. Lovely’s mother is a housewife. Her father is a subsistent farmer. She was the top student in her class out of more than 110 students. She is typical of the students selected for the Academy. She has strong self-esteem and self-motivation. One of her goals, she says, is to stop her community from discriminating against women and people from other tribes. A teacher at the school and a member of the admissions team, Mrs Nancy Oruko, commented: “Lovely struck us as being a student who had a very mature outlook for her age. She told us that many girls in her old school were getting pregnant. Instead of judging them, Lovely said that she made friends with the girls and used the opportunity to advise them to change their behaviour”. The Academy nurtures and en- courages the students to take on leadership roles in either sports, community service, debating, student representative council or other such activities. Lovely would like to play an active role in drama, as she feels that it is an excellent way of communicating with the community at large and getting a message across to them. She participated in the National Music Festival in 2013, and has been a member of the Talented Youth Organisation. The group performs plays on social issues within the Ganze community. The selection of the students is merit-based, and the Academy makes a strong effort to meet the full demonstrated need of students who require financial assistance. The level of support provided is based on family income. The first group of students to come through the Talent Identification programme, overseen by the Dean of Admissions, Mr Paul Davis, joined the school in April 2009. There are now 34 students in the school between Year 6 and DP1, who have been through this process. Ohad Mutula joined the Academy at the same time as Lovely. He was previously at Mariakani Primary School in Kaloleni. Despite the challenges that many students face being educated in a rural setting in Mombasa, Ohad was scoring above 400 points in his primary years. The admissions team were fasci- nated by his deep interest in books. A member of the admission team, Ms Esther Nondi, recalled: “Ohad was able to describe a story in great deal. What was remarkable was his interest in Greek mythology. He chose to recount the story of Deadalus and Icarus, and was able to use interesting descriptors to retell the story”. Ohad is also ambitious and keen to make a difference in his community in the future. He has set himself the goal of becoming an electrical engineer, so that, he says, he can help “establish industries in Kaloleni to increase industrialisation”. That, he reasons, would boost employment of youths and remove the temptation for drug trafficking. The ambition and drive of Lovely and Ohad to bring about change is typical of students at the school. They grow in the programme to adopt attributes and characteristics that leaders of the 21st Century require. INSTITUTIONS DAILY NATION Monday February 10, 2014 COMRADE LIFE Big headache over campus hostel rooms BY MERCY NJOKI email@example.com Accommodation in a public university is every student’s headache. The admission numbers have shot up far beyond the capacity of hostels, such that in many universities, the self-sponsored comrades are advised to find their own accommodation off campus. Even then, not all government supported students get allocated a room. Many still miss out. There have been instances in which comrades have taken to the streets to demand their “accommodation rights”. Some universities have admitted that it is indeed a crisis. Others have promised to build more. Yet in some campuses, the problem is made worse by the selectiveness of students, who see some accommodation blocks as ancient structures that are best avoided. Then there are hostels that are located kilome- tres away from the general direction of lecture halls. For a comrade to catch an 8am lecture, he or she has to leave the hostel at 7am. So, what are the pros and cons of leaving in a university hostel or off campus? For a hostel room, universities charge between Sh4000 and Sh5000 per semester. The lucky comrades who get rooms enjoy the affordable charges and all the benefits that come with staying in a campus hostel. Think of free water, electricity, cleaning services, and zero transport cost. Cooking in a campus hostel requires no fuel. Electric coils serve the purpose. The going only gets tough when there is no power. But perhaps because of this cooking in rooms, coupled with untidiness of some comrades, it is no secret that many university hostels are infested with rats, cockroaches and bedbugs. Some of these troubles are aired through social media, and there is a way in which comrades believe that accommodation departments have done little to eliminate these little intruders. The bedbugs strike in the dead of the night when sleep is at its best. A visitor in campus hostels will easily spot stains of blood on the walls, where these predators meet their death. The ones that are still alive occasionally sneak into clothes in a plot that seems crafted to embarrass the wearer. The little insects might just decide to make a dash from one seam to the next in full glare of comrades. Well, that could be a small matter when compared with the experience of being conned off the little HELB money in the name of been sold a hostel “room”. At the beginning of an academic year, posters announcing available rooms appear from nowhere, inviting potential room buyers with “reasonable prices”. Usually, it’s the First Years who get ripped off this way – those who have not been lucky enough to be allocated a room. They find out too late that they bought rooms that never existed. Tracing the seller is often futile. The con game has become big business for some. For others, the hostel room doubles up as a multipurpose shop. They sell eggs, earrings, and clothes among other items. It’s about survival. But despite these little troubles, including squeaky metallic beds that have seen very many years of public service, comrades would any day prefer a university hostel room. That’s because for those who aren’t lucky and have to live outside campus, their pockets run dry even before the semester is midway. First, they rent houses off campus and that is several times more expensive compared to a getting room in a university hostel. Many students therefore combine pockets and rent a house in groups of twos or threes. Still, they have to contend with walking for kilometres to campus grounds every morning and back in the evening for lack of bus fare. It’s campus life.
February 9th 2014
February 11th 2014