Archive for the ‘Technology’ tag
The VSA submitted another photo to The eLearning Africa Photo Competition 2012. The theme is year is The African Century: ICTs Inspiring Innovation. Photos were meant to describe the following: ‘ICTs are increasingly present in everyday African life, enhancing the way we live, learn, cooperate and connect. How have ICTs inspired you? How is technology fostering innovation in individuals and communities in Africa? Let us see this through your eyes! Share your pictures and send us a brief description outlining the inspiration behind your idea.’
So, we submitted this picture with the following description:
‘Helping learners to think “out of the Box”! Here, learners at Mary Waters High School in the Grahamstown township expand their horizons in a fun educational project, in which they develop an innovative board game explaining social networking and the Internet to other learners who do not have access. The objective is to use technology to teach new ways of thinking out of the box about common things like board games.’
Anna and Ron Wertlen went to the SANGONet Conference this week (01-03/11/11), at the Wanderers Club in Johannesburg to present the awareNet social network to an international audience of educators, politicians, funders and activists.
SANGONet brings together everyone interested in ICT for rural development (#ICT4RD). The conference was very well organised and it was made sure that the different parties exchanged important information about their programmes, products, funding methods, initiatives and reasons for failure or success.
The VSA demonstrated how awareNet works, and eKhaya ICT additionally introduced the concept of Reed House Systems’ Teleweaver. Especially, the awareNet demonstration attracted three large groups of listeners. We were approached with requests for installations of awareNet at schools (in local mesh networks) as well as the usage of awareNet as a service delivery platform for specific content from potential partners. We are looking forward to follow up on all those offers and ideas.
awareYet? began as a guerilla marketing exercise during the Social Enterprise World Forum 2011 in Johannesburg. The campaign aimed to affix a sticker with the characteristic eyes of the campaign onto every participant at the event, in recognition of the youth unemployed in South Africa. This was a random and fun thing and reflects the position of the youth, which likes fun, and is subjected to random cruelty.
Youth unemployment is a world-wide problem and occurs for a number of reasons. In South Africa, an upper-middle earning country (World Economic Forum) — the richest country of continental Africa! – youth unemployment is a result of a complex interaction of dysfunctional social institutions, including mainly education and local government, that lead to a “no hope situation“ for the 15 – 29 year-olds. Manyof them are in fact characterised as “unemployable”. An outrageous category for any person!
Xhora Mouth JSS – bricks as benches
Toilets at Zwelenqaba SSS
These youths are legally obliged to attend sub-standard schooling, with educators who are all too willing to skip school, because of problems of lack of equipment, lack of materials, an undertone of violence, absenteeism, filthy toilets, teenage pregnancy and drugs. Educators feel unqualified to handle the disaster that unfolds before them every day and they become accepting of their dysfunctional environment as they feel powerless to change it. Such youths contribute to the terrible statistics of South African youth unemployment:
“The unemployment rate among those under the age of 25 years old is about 50 per cent, accounting for 30 per cent of total unemployment. Including those aged25 to 29 years old adds another million to the unemployed” (National Treasury 2011: 9).
Democratic revolution in Egypt
One can compare this to the unemployment rates in Northern African and Middle Eastern States: “Despite robust economic growth, youth unemployment rates in the Middle East are high, ranging from 20 to 30 percent in most countries in the region but exceeding 45 percent in some countries (e.g. Algeria and Iraq). Young people with secondary and post-secondary education face severe difficulties in securing employment mainly due to skills mismatches and long queuing for public sector jobs.” (Middle East Youth Initiative, 2011, visited 2011-04-28)
The eyes of the youth see change and are happy.
Energetic, unemployed youths turn in the best case to democratic activities, as witnessed in North Africa in early 2011. Here, fuelled by unemployment and enabled by ICTs youths went to the streets and won their rights in a humane and enabling manner. The region as a whole stands to gain much through their actions, their bravery and dignity.
On the other hand, unemployed youths can also try their hand at other things, such as violence and crime. “According to the United Nations Population Fund (1998:3), youth unemployment can drive many people into living outside the law both to survive and as a means of expressing dissatisfaction at the apparent neglect of their very existence.” (National Labour and Economic Development Institute, 2007). The co-existence of amazing wealth next to townships which lack even electricity, has quickly resulted in violence dominating the South African financial centre of Gauteng. The infamy of the violent crime in the region is second to none in the world.
WHAT ARE WE DOING ABOUT IT?
The Village Scribe Association was founded in 2008 to investigate ways in which ICTs could advance development in mainly rural marginalised areas and to promote projects that implemented such methods. What we have found in our years of investigation is that youth are the life and potential of such areas. Their energy and keen interest in ICTs and being connected to the rest of humanity and their peers through social networking is massive. They, like their North African brothers can lead a revolution, in rural and township areas.
This is why we developed the awareNet software and social network. Built for low-connectivity settings and mesh networks, awareNet equips learners with an appreciation for collaboration and teamwork at an early age. It harnesses their keen interest in ICTs and under the tutelage of trainers and champions, connects the youth with itself.
The world needs more socially aware enterprises to counter the imbalance in taking care of public goods that has overtaken the world in past decades. Adam Smith the original capitalist philosopher noted that market economies have little incentive to look after public goods such as clean air, or a strong vibrant environment for our youth. Only strong social values and faith in teamwork can redress the current imbalance.
WHAT CAN YOU DO ABOUT IT?
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.
Dietrich von Richthofen, a German journalist, visited Grahamstown and the rural Eastern Cape in January 2011. After a series of long interviews with Ron Wertlen (eKhaya ICT and Reed House Systems CTO) and Anna Wertlen (Village Scribe Association), Sibukele Gumbo (Siyakhula Living Lab Management Unit) and Alfredo Terzoli (Rhodes University – Centre of Excellence) and a field trip to a part of the Siyakhula Living Lab, he published an article in DIE ZEIT, a German nationwide weekly newspaper that is highly respected for its quality journalism with an estimated readership of 2m.
The article describes the difficulties of bringing technologies into rural Africa using the Siyakhula Living Lab, Reed House Systems and its software TeleWeaver as an example. The reader gains a small insight into part of the projects, implemented in Grahamstown and the Eastern Cape, and a rough overview of the ICT4D situation in general. Thank you for the publication, Ditsch!
You can read the full article including a number of comments here.
awareNet is now sending daily automated updates about certain activity to @VillageScribeSA. Please, follow us to see what’s going on in our social network for South African and other interested learners.
Insights that are posted are completely anonymous to protect the privacy of the awareNet users, e.g. you will receive a note about which project was created or edited, but not by whom.
This new exciting feature keeps all awareNet users up to date, e.g. our Community Engagement volunteers receive a note about the learners’ activity while they are not on site and can go online to react faster which in turn is very appreciated by the learners.
We also hope to attract more users to our social network. If you are interested in joining, please contact us! Every learner or teacher is welcome!
To get things going one has to go out and meet people. Best if you don’t know what the goal is. Anna and Ron Wertlen went to Cape Town for three quite different and very interesting meetings.
- RLabs and Marlon Parker in Athlone: The VSA, eKhaya ICT and RLabs want to work closely together and use each others brains, facilities, softwares and applications, developing new ways of connecting communities and educating and involving different people into the various ongoing projects.
- Mr Maxwell and Mr Kilpert in Plumstead: The VSA and eKhaya ICT are planning to develop and produce a new product to enable teachers without Internet access to impart the pros and risks of the Internet. We talked to skilled and committed creative designers and concept developers and decided to go ahead as soon as we have the financial backup.
- Private investors at the Waterfront: We discussed the possibility of the VSA as a benefactor of a new multi-million Rand development project at the Wild Coast whose profit will be fed into community projects. Benefits can only be expected from the second half of 2012.
Ron and I have just registered for the Net Prophet Conference in Cape Town. Anna will represent the VSA and Ron eKhaya ICT. Together we will present our Village Scribe Project, awareNet, TeleWeaver and much more.
This is how Net Prophet describes itself on its homepage:
Take the most innovative/successful/creative/ambitious thinkers and entrepreneurs in the Internet space, and ask them to share their stories, ideas and predictions for the future in a format that is fresh, relevant and engaging. The result: Net Prophet.
This description is so promising, we are very much looking forward to this event, also hoping to meet Marlon Parker and Craig Ross from RLabs and several others. Meet us in Cape Town, Mutual Park, 12 May 2011!
TeleWeaver is a hybrid on- and offline product which allows access to Internet services in a manner that is friendly to mesh networks. Mesh networks are an important source of access in the African environment. Another unique feature of TeleWeaver is its low-maintenance architecture. Through OSGi, a technology standard developed for motor vehicle software and mobile phones, the product becomes very robust. At the same time it allows external developers to deploy their software extensions to the platform.
The first version includes Career, Tourism and Survey functionality. It is being released toward the end of March and will allow village scribes to provide services to their communities.
At the same time the development team will be able to monitor the kinds of problems that are experienced in the field. It will also be a good test to see what costs will be incurred in terms of Internet access, on a rudimentary system.
TeleWeaver is a product of the SAFIPA funded ESTIMA project.