Training

16 09 2008

I finally delivered 2 days of training last week. I will admit that I’m nervous of training, the idea of spending two days boring a bunch of people by droning on about Microsoft Word and Excel doesn’t really appeal. Mind you I’ve learnt quite a lot about those two in the last year.

My victims trainees were representatives from about a dozen of our partner organisations, generally the person responsible for finance from each plus the occasional other as well as a few random people from I’m not entirely sure where, giving me an audience of around 20. Unfortunately we were in a small room with just 7 computers available for people to try things out and, just to add to the confusion, several of the computer keyboards were Scandinavian (with weird letters and accents), but mapped as English so that when you typed what appeared wasn’t what was on the keyboard.

With the heat of the computers plus 20+ individuals being battled by a single ceiling fan I attempted to explain the intricacies of Excel, or at least some of the basics. Every so often I broke away from my nice PowerPoint presentations (available on request) to allow the students to try it out. The simple mathematics meant that there were about 3 per computer (or worse, numbers of students and computers seemed to fluctuate). The lack of individual PCs had the unexpected benefit that the members of my audience who had almost never touched a computer had my confused, English accented explanation translated by participants adept in the ways of Excel.

Lacking any idea or experience to go on I failed to estimate how long things would take. Fortunately for the participants I managed to over-estimate how the time needed, resulting in early finishes both days. In fact I was finished by lunchtime on Friday, which should have allowed them to get to Friday prayers or set off home easily. In fact my colleagues hadn’t expected me to finish so early and had wanted to speak to the representatives when I finished (and give the non-Muslims lunch), but assumed I’d rabbit on till mid afternoon. As a result the poor people weren’t released until nearly 3 and milled around for a couple of hours.

The reason for training is that the donor organisations that give money to ISODEC and our partner organisations are expected more and more detailed reporting on how the money is being spent. This means that the organisations are having to learn to use tools like Excel. Almost no-one here will have seen a computer at school (indeed many schools here still don’t have electricity, much less computers) and are very new to computers. Some people take to the new technology easily, but many others are nervous of these expensive, irrational things. It’s hard to explain some of the illogical things that Microsoft does, and Microsoft’s penchant for changing stuff between versions confuses things more. Virus writers add to the problem, pretty much every pen-drive (as memory sticks are called here) is infected. People install 3 month trial versions of commercial virus checkers, and can’t get updates once the trial finishes. Annoyingly even organisations that have the money can’t purchase licences because no-one here has a credit card so there’s no way of performing online payments and no shops selling legal CDs (at least certainly not north of Kumasi).

Completely unrelated, I arrived in Ghana exactly a year ago today (September 16th). After 366 days (leap year) I’m still trying to work things out, but a little less overwhelmed and a little more relaxed.

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2 responses

16 09 2008
Anathema

Hahaha, seems that Microsoft gives troubles around the world. Why don’t you try Linux or something like that. Open Office works quite well, and it’s license-free. Just a suggestion :)

Well, 1 year is a lot of time there, seems like you’re finding yourself comfortable there. Good for you :D

See ya!

16 09 2008
Tim Little

Yeah, I thought about OO when I got here, but the problem is that everyone is already using MS products and thats what they expect and want.

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