Archive for the ‘collaboration’ tag
The “Good Vibrations” Project by Sarah Hanton, Boudina McConnachie and Anna Wertlen has been selected for the finals of the Microsoft Partners in Learning Forum competition! The project involves peer-teaching, outreach and obviously the usage of awareNet and is described in detail in our previous blog.
This year, finalists are not only invited to attend the Forum which includes a workshop and the award ceremony at the Hilton Hotel in Durban (1.-4.4.12), they are also being sponsored by Microsoft to attend the South African Basic Education Conference as part of their prize. Congratulations and the VSA is holding thumbs that the presentation will be successful!
The VSA is proud to announce that a collaboration between Upstart and third year Rhodes University TV Journalism students produced fantastic short films about issues that concern learners in Grahamstown and South Africa – titled “Speaking our Minds” – and that they gave us the permission to publish these short films on awareNet. The first screening of the films took place at the Raglan Road Community Centre and the packed audience of Upstarters, Rhodes University students and lecturers, parents and community leaders were unanimous in their praise for the outspoken young filmmakers! Now, these films are available online for awareNet users. They can watch them in their own time and leave comments or start discussions. Perhaps some of them will be motivated to do more – and we would not be surprised…
This is another wonderful example of a fruitful and meaningful cooperation between local NGOs and programmes which really make a difference in development work. We hope to attract many more of those next year to enhance the usefulness and fun factor of awareNet. Please, contact us if you have an idea or a suggestion for cooperation.
The VSA and three of our partners, eKhaya ICT, Left2Write and ReedHouseSystems, went together to rural Nkwalini in the Eastern Cape for several reasons. One was to hold a social networking workshop using awareNet for learners, teachers and community coordinators of the Zwelenqaba SSSchool (27.-28.09.11). Richard Strickland from eKhaya ICT updated the awareNet server and the laptops’ browsers and fixed a few of the laptops of the solar school computer lab. Anna Wertlen from the VSA brushed up the teachers’ and coordinator’s knowledge and introduced about 50 new learners to awareNet. Erika Wertlen from Left2Write chaired a session about blogging and publishing during the workshop. Then, all learners blogged about solar energy. Additionally, Mrs E Wertlen delivered a great donation of books and magazines to the school’s library on behalf of Left2Write. Further, Ronald Wertlen as director of RHS followed up on an investigation of mobile banking and most importantly was concerned with maintaining relationships with the community and the schools in advance of the TeleWeaver rollout.
The community welcomed us warmly and had prepared our visit well. The learners worked with great enthusiasm and concentration and thanked us with a self-composed song about computers and solar energy. Siphiwo Msindwana, the community coordinator, acted very professionally by consulting eKhaya ICT for mediation between the community and the school. Disagreements werecleared. The teachers were overwhelmed by the generosity of Left2Write and promised to use the new resources wisely.
We also paid a visit to Bulunbula Incubator to maintain our partnership and talk about current and future projects.A German member of the VSA came all the way to accompany us and ask a lot of questions to show oversea’s interest. All in all, it was a very successful and very busy trip. We hope that we can repeat it soon in many other rural schools in South Africa and beyond. Please, contact us if you are interested.
The Grahamstown Foundation awarded 4 awareNet users with free tickets for the National Schools Festival in Grahamstown (10.-14.7.11) after they had successfully proven that they are good reporters by documenting their experiences at the National Arts Festival on awareNet. Faith du Plessies, Krista du Plooy, Ayanda Twani and Siyamtanda Tokwe went out and thoroughly enjoyed the Festival. They were very grateful for this opportunity to learn so much while having a lot of fun!
In return, the 4 learners started a project on awareNet in which they reported about their experiences at the Schools Festival for other awareNet users to read, take part and leave comments. Other awareNet users actually became so interested in the project that they joined and also added their experiences. So, thank you very much to: Hannah Godlonton, Motolani Adesina, Jessica Wentworth, Neliswa Mamani, Tamani Chithambo and Siyanda Makunga. You collaborated in a great way! (Non users can also read the project, but will not able to leave comments or read personal information. The awareNet project can be found here.)
I would like to add a heartwarming message (sms) that I received from Ayanda after the Festival: “I would just like to thank you for allowing me to experience what is now the best zenith of my matric year. All the memories and the powerful productions are ones that I will treasure forever. Thank you and I hope that next year more girls can have the same upliftment as I.”
The VSA and a lot of amazing partners become serious now about the awareNet theme Song Project. You probably wonder what it’s all about. Let me explain. It’s going to be an amazing story for Peace Day, I hope.
It all started with the idea that awareNet needs a song for the learners and all partners to sing, to identify, to unify and to let everyone feel the strength. Music is an expression of life. Gabriel Spilkin kindly offered to produce a song in a style that was determined by the awareNet users: We added a poll to awareNet. At the moment it looks like HipHop, RnB and House are the favourites. Thank you for donating your professional work, Gabriel!
The local band Inyaniso (on YouTube) kindly offered to train kids from four schools (Mahlasela PSS, Nyaluza SS, Mary Waters HS and VGHS) how to sing and rap. Our first session took place yesterday at Mahlasela PSS and the artists Zukani, Melikhaya, Sivuyile and Lunga did wonders to the faces and the bodies of the learners. Thank you for your spirit! From being scared and shy they slowly took a liking in the idea and started tapping their feet and quickly trying to learn the words. Smiles! The best thing that could happen was that the equipment didn’t work, so we had to listen to a song by Inyaniso from their car’s loudspeakers. Classic! And can you believe it: One of the learners was already playing the exact song from his phone even though it’s not even published yet! How is that?! - These kids are amazingly connected and just naturally using technology as part of their life.
We are also very grateful to Corinne Cooper, owner of SonicArtStudio and lecturer of Sound Technology at Rhodes University. She offered to work with the kids on the song and to record them after they have shown their performance on stage on Peace Day. This is absolutely fantastic. The VSA is very much looking forward to having a song that can be played and sung online and offline. We will make sure that people will listen to it not only in Africa, but overseas and in connection with the aware Yet? Campaign.
What I currently work on is to find a suitable hall for the music event on Peace Day and to find some form of sponsorship to pay for the rent, the music equipment, the advertising and some material. If you think this is a good project and this is worth a donation, please contact us. I will keep you updated about the project. Watch this space and follow us on facebook and twitter!
One of the VSA’s most important assignments is networking and the provision of information. We always keep you updated about all our projects and activities. We care about transparency. You can find us on many channels: this blog, our newsletter, awareNet, facebook, twitter, Google Maps, YouTube, etc. We are always happy to receive feed back via email or to meet people personally. We think it incredibly inspiring to talk to people who have the same mission and work in the same field. We do not see rivalry, but the possibility for partnership, because the work we do is for others. We are happy when other people want to join us in that mission.
That’s why the South African National Arts Festival (30/06-10/07/11) was such a wonderful event for us, because we had the chance to listen to people to find out what they do and think, and to connect with them to make plans to work together. Firstly, of course I have to mention Upstart’s book launch at Nun’s Chapel. Shireen Badat and Harry Owen managed to organise and motivate and inspire a large group of Grahamstown’s underprivileged learners to write poetry and to publish their poems in a book called “I write who I am”. And these poems are good! Immediately, I contacted them to find out if they would write some more poetry to help us with the lyrics for our awareNet theme song - and they agreed! What an opportunity!
We also went to take part in the ThinkFest! of the Arts Festival and listened to talks by Elinor Sisulu about ‘Bridging the literacy and digital devide’ and Sisonke Msimang about ‘Leadership, Citizenship and South Africa’s political trajectory’, strong and smart women who can attract real thinkers and arouse healthy discussions that are not only full of criticism of the system or the people, but also full of ideas for solutions. We met a lot of people who do fantastic work and want to collaborate with us o make a difference.
Thank you all! For listening, reading, talking, communicating, and collaborating.
Unfortunately, my positive feelings were brought down again this week by the appearance and behaviour of South Africa’s president Jacob Zuma who visited Grahamstown to receive the Key to the City and to rename Raglan Road into Jacob Zuma Avenue for as little as R250 000. That is pure insult, conceitedness and ignorance. When a president travels, it’s expensive, right, but that is not interesting. Interesting is what you do when you meet your people. Do you listen to their needs and ask them what they hope for or do you endless chatter about your ancestors and praise the past? Do you spend the money for renaming a road after yourself which is only heard of dictators or do you talk to the local government and see how much money and support they need to improve the area?
Communication is the key to success – but talk to your children and not to your ancestors!
We were very proud to be invited to the celebration of a new publishing house in South Africa called exPressive imPressions. Erika Wertlen invited a group of creative minds to network, talk about ideas, watch exhibitions and performances.
A quick blurb about exPressive imPressions:
Their goal is to encourage writers and artists of a variety of disciplines, as well as the public, to become actively involved in writing, reading, and other forms of artistic expression through web-presence, event-hosting, and web and print publishing.
They envision a future in which Southern Africans from all walks of life will have a platform to tell, hear, read or see their stories in such a way that is accessible to them, without being restricted by the divides of the past.
Their values are Freedom of Expression, Creativity, Collaboration, Artistic Freedom, Promoting Unity in Diversity through Shared Experience, Poetry, Prose, Art, Music, Soul. The true heart of South Africa!
We are very much looking forward to a stimulating partnership. We hope to use each other’s strength, network, content and creativity to promote education, literacy and freedom.
The Makana Municipality had R53.7m and didn’t spend it! And Makana’s councillors are furious that, just before their term of office ends, so few of the projects which they’ve spent months planning have actually come to fruition. From Makana Municipality’s capital expenditure and conditional grant budget of R69.6 million, R15.9m – a little over 20% – had been spent by the end of January. (Find out more in Grocott’s Mail.)
The Village Scribe Association has a number of projects that would help to uplift the Rhini/Grahamstown community on a very low budget. We believe that highest priority must be the right for good education. Several very respected and active stakeholders based in Grahamstown submitted a proposal to the Makana Municipality for building a hub of education, communication and IT training. We would only need a fraction of the money to renovate and furnish an existing building. All community activities by the different stakeholders have been running for a long time but would greatly benefit from a communal place where cooperations could be invigorated and forces bundled.
Act now, Makana! Prepare the building for your people! Make this communal hub happen before it’s too late and the money has to be returned!
VSA submitted 5 pictures for eLearning Africa Photo Competition – help us win and vote for us! no comments
The eLearning Africa Conference Photo Competition asked for pictures with the theme Capture this! How ICTs are empowering people across Africa. The VSA submitted 5 pictures including descriptions.
M favourite description is this one: Upstarters being aware (to vote click here)
An innovative, true multimedia project that drew a lot of attention: The Village Scribe Association (international NGO) and eKhaya ICT (South African local IT business) developed a social networking software awareNet especially designed to be used largely offline, adapting to rural and peri-urban setting. Eastern Cape learners benefit from free lessons and a partnership with the Zazi Foundation for educational video content about health: teachAIDS videos, provided by the Stanford University School of Education. Inspired by the World AIDS Day 2010, learners collaboratively worked on a project about HIV/AIDS in wiki style. Certain parts of this projects were selected online by the Management of Grocott’s Mail, Grahamstown’s independent newspaper, to be included in the November 2010 Upstart supplement (The Paper for Youth by Youth). Here you can see the learners proudly reading their articles in the Upstart Paper. The photograph was taken by Rhodes University Community Engagement volunteers who work with the learners on several projects on awareNet. Together they started an awareNet photo project in which photos for the ‘eLearning Africa Photo Competition 2011′ were taken, uploaded, described, and chosen for submission.
The other pictures are called:
- Curiosity, awareness and motivation (to vote click here)
- Solar Panels, Off-line Internet and awareNet (to vote click here)
- Rural SA cooperates with German University (to vote click here)
- When power is more of a problem than owning a cell (to vote click here)
Please, help us to win the competition and vote for us! Thank you.
The VSA started a great collaboration with Rhodes’ Community Engagement. CE organised 10 volunteers who are going to work with us for the year 2011. We are very happy to welcome such a large group of motivated, young and active students. Thank you very much for your interest!
The volunteers are going to join Thozi, Rhini’s community coordinator, into the awareNet classes at the various schools in Rhini to work together with the learners and assist Thozi in his work, ie. teaching. All of them are experienced Internet users and professional social networkers who cannot wait to get into contact – personally and electronically – with all those learners who have very little experience in this field.
We believe that they will be a great inspiration for them (eg. by blogging about their own experiences and personal views on awareNet) and that they will motivate them to become more innovative and self-confident in the awareNet network. We hope that, together, they can work on important projects that will be published in Upstart for a greater audience, and that the learners will start discussing their opinions, issues and concerns more openly with increasing trust in the young volunteers – something that is usually missing in the South African traditional way of teaching.