The Iringa Cage

…overheard in Dar es Salaam, two European professors talking about “The Iringa Cage”…

This is a metal cage somewhere in Iringa, central Tanzania, where European PhD students are sent if they are having difficulty in completing their theses.  The cage is kitted out with a computer and high bandwidth internet connectivity, so that students can access all of the digital resources that they  require.  The students are placed in the cage, and if they want to eat they must produce text!  Every page they write is sent to their supervisor electronically, who then authorises food to be delivered – providing the written work is of sufficient quality.  A minimum of 5 pages must be produced every day, and the cage is floodlit at night until these pages have been completed and authorised.  Only then is the student allowed to sleep.  Students are allowed out of the cage for one day every ten days or 50 pages.

Sounds like an innovative ICT solution to the problem of thesis completion…


Filed under Postgraduate supervision

7 responses to “The Iringa Cage

  1. Fernanda S.

    oh no! if it wasn’t enough, now i am going to have nightmares 😛

  2. Marcus

    I wonder who they were planning to put in that cage. Somehow I am fearing it is me…

  3. unwin

    Don’t worry – am sure it will be relatively painless!!!!

  4. David Hodgson

    Sounds like the kind of experiment that we used to do on monkeys and rats in the days before animal rights, in which we reward the hapless experimentee with a peanut if they get though the maze/press the right button etc. Does it deliver what is required: quantity or quality?

  5. Emma Shercliff

    I visit Iringa every year and must confess that I’ve never seen the cage! But there are many other reasons for PhD students to visit this beautiful town – not least to see the wonderful work that a small non-profit called Global Outreach has been doing in the region. Global Outreach works with secondary schools near Iringa to establish computer labs and embed computer literacy into the curriculum of these schools.

    At one school in Iringa, Global Outreach has established weekly web seminars with pupils at a school in Florida. Topics for discussion over the past few months have included the US elections, the world energy crisis, specific books that the students have read in advance of the meetings (by both Tanzanian and American authors) and table manners! I thought this was a great example of ict4d in action and it was obvious from the enthusiasm with which the Tanzanian students told us about the project that this is a fantastic learning experience for both sets of students, which has served to broaden the horizons of all involved in the virtual meetings.

    See for more details.

  6. ugo

    I think there’s only one flaw in the plan – you need to put a cap on the broadband internet connection, otherwise “some people” might resort to internet-based procrastination, extremely common in my own experience.. By the way, restrictions to bandwidth are quite realistic in the context of rural Tanzania 😉

  7. This must be a myth! Otherwise, I look forward to one day seeing this cage if it really exists. Tee hee…great idea for getting that difficult writing done. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing.

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