Archive for February, 2012
Anna Wertlen was invited to give a talk at the 2nd Annual Women in ICT Conference at the Southern Sun Montecasino Hotel in Johannesburg (24/3/12). Her talk was about “Community-driven ICT Enabled Development: Making the ICT services accessible to the communities and to develop awareness of these resources.” Other speakers were Meryl Malcommess (Marketing Director, SYSPRO South Africa), Robynne Erwin (CEO of SmartXchange) and Teryl Schroenn (CEO of Accsys).
In an online social network, everyone is equal, because everyone has exactly the same space, rights and opportunities. Gender makes no difference to a computer unless you ask the computer to do so.
Equality is the basis for development. You cannot force a group to become more active by giving them superior rights. But equality means that everyone has the same right to come up with a new idea or with a special need.
To be able to define a special need or come up with an idea you have to be well educated: First, one needs to learn about the existence of choice, then get a real sense of choice, then comes the most challenging part of actually using choices and then only the achievement of choices become visible (Kleine 2010).
Development is increasing (peoples’) choice. Others also call it empowerment.
The Conference opened eyes of a very interesting and multicultural group of women, and everyone was of the opinion that there should me more such conferences.
The beginning of the year was very difficult for the governmental schools in the Eastern Cape. Again, the temporary teachers’ posts were unassured and SADTU decided that all teachers had to go ‘Go Slow’. In the end – as usual – mainly the learners suffered from all the regulations and protests. At many schools, days ended early on a regular basis and additional teacher meetings reduced classes even further. Learners started worrying that they would miss too much to make it trough exams once again.
Also the VSA had great difficulties to work at the schools as usual since we are dependent on the teachers and principals to open up computer labs for us and inform us about time changes. Many awareNet sessions were cancelled. But we also had some very good conversations with teachers and principals and listened carefully to their problems and needs. In the end, we understood the situation much better and were able to work around it.
On the contrary, learners who participate in any of our awareNet workshops seem to enjoy the practical and challenging work a lot and excitedly talk about it to their peers. As a result, more and more learners approach us independently to ask for additional awareNet sessions in the afternoons when regular school has ended. We were able to accommodate them and principals and teachers agreed to keep the computer labs open for longer – a great achievement!
Also the teachers are more and more aware of the possibilities that come with integrating awareNet into their classes. We appointed two new awareNet teachers at Mary Waters HS and CM Vellem HPS who are now able to teach awareNet independently from the VSA – another step forward in awareNet’s sustainability.
Our partner Impuls from Switzerland has offered us a benefit concert for the VSA by the world-famous a capella group The Glue. The Glue (here on YouTube) tours South Africa from Durban to Cape Town and was looking for a place for another gig in between these two towns, preferably including some interaction with locals for inspiration and exchange. So, the VSA organised the concert and – of course – an a capella workshop on awareNet.
For the a capella workshop we got Hleze Kunju on board, a local actor, composer and script writer. While he, at the moment, does his Masters in Music and African Languages, he teaches a group of learners at CM Vellem HPS how to sing a capella and also to write their own songs while they learn how to use computers and to network using awareNet. The participants of this workshop will be invited to The Glue’s concert.
The day after the concert, The Glue will visit the learners at their school and the learners will have their chance to perform for them. We thought this is a wonderful opportunity to inspire each other and open up horizons and we are very much looking forward to this event!
Everyone is invited to come to the concert on Sunday 11/03/12 at 3pm at the Rhodes Theater in Grahamstown. Tickets can be purchased under info @ villagescribe.org or at the box office. They are R30 for adults, R20 for students and R10 for children. Please, sponsor a ticket for an underprivileged learner for R10. Any other donations welcome. Thank you.
We can proudly announce that this Tuesday 07/02/12, the VSA was visited and inspected by Therese Boulle, one of the evaluators of the Impumelelo Social Innovation Awards. We handed in an application a few months ago and by sending an evaluator, Impumelelo signaled us that we made it into the second round.
So, we spent an exciting day with our evaluator presenting every aspect of the ECSPIRT Project which uses the awareNet system. We explained her the software and the system, we presented outstanding projects on awareNet, we arranged meetings with principals, teachers and learners of the schools that use awareNet and we discussed challenges and achievements with partners, volunteers and collaborators.
All in all, we believe that we left a very good impression which will be reflected in a very positive report by There Boulle to Impumelelo. We think that we could convince her that the awareNet system is a tool for poverty alleviation, that it is sustainable and has a social impact. It’s up to the other applicants now to reach up to us. If they show more impact than us they deserve to be awarded!
(We will be notified if we made it into the third round by the end of July 2012.)
Last week, Anna and Ron Wertlen went to Port Elizabeth to give an awareNet workshop for the eight teachers of the Masifunde Learner Development Center. They were very interested and motivated to integrate the use of awareNet into their existing educational program. We explained how we envisage and handle the combined training at computers and other topics such as journalism, film making and documentation or swimming lessons.
All the teachers were registered on awareNet and started exploring the network straight away. They are going to receive email triggers during the following weeks to help them use awareNet more regularly and naturally to be prepared to teach their own learners in return. We are looking forward to assist them and build a good partnership with Port Elisabeth!