A team of students from Asco Secondary School in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, reached the final of the Finastra “Hack to the Future” youth hackathon, competing against hundreds of projects from around the world. Their entry, Project YOKE, was designed to solve the financial problems facing farmers in rural areas of Ethiopia by providing weather and agri-tech information, and facilitating mobile-based financial services, including money transfers and information on the market price of products.
Three teams of students from Asco School, which had an e-Learning centre installed by Camara in 2019, participated in the hackathon. Each team had between 5 and 7 members: mentors from Finastra were assigned to each team and guided them through three Microsoft Teams sessions. Each session lasted two hours and was facilitated on-site by a Camara trainer (one for each team) with remote tech support from Camara. Support the trainers provided included ensuring fast Internet connection to make sure the calls went smoothly, translating concepts into Amharic, and providing support in the recording and submission of videos. You can check out the other two submissons here – Smart Gulit and Agro-Market by Unique.
Finastra has teamed up with Camara Education to process their retired laptops and other IT equipment, generating funds to bring ICT resources and skills to those who need it most in the developing world. Finastra is the largest pure-play software vendor that serves the entire financial services industry; Camara offers a safe, secure and reliable logistics chain for the collection of retired equipment from multiple global Finastra locations. Our partnership proivdes technology and education to thousands of children in Africa, and supports Finastra in its goal to become carbon neutral by 2030.
Three months into the new year, we wanted to update you on how your contribution to our Big Give Christmas Challenge appeal is being used in Tanzania. In the next few months we’ll send updates on our programmes in Kenya and Zambia too.
Kidia Secondary School in Moshi, Kilimanjaro, pictured here, is just one of 37 schools in Tanzania that have already had training and maintenance visits from Camara thanks to your generous funding.
Camara’s technicians check all the school’s computers and update, upgrade and replace components or entire units where necessary. Computers work well when they are taken care of and even simple maintenance can extend their lifespan: we use a blower to remove dust from the computer mother board and foam cleaner for cleaning the external case, keyboard and monitor.When we identify items that can’t be repaired, our local e-waste partner, Chilambo, will collect them for recycling to ensure they don’t end up in landfill.
Dust is an ongoing issue in the African environment:
But it can be dealt with!
We also check wiring and electrical supply, and modernise it when necessary
The students get to help out with the maintenance too – here at Maringeni Secondary school in Kilimanjaro – and learn about computers along the way
Through the Big Give programme, we have trained over 300 teachers in Tanzania this year. Teachers need to be confident enough to use technology as an integral part of their teaching, rather than an adjunct or afterthought. Here, teachers undergo our Skillbuilder training at Ifwagi Secondary School in the Iringa region.
Our training officer, Bahati Kamanga, conducting a one-on-one session with the ICT teacher from Korongoni Secondary School in Kilimanjaro on how to manage user accounts on a computer.
A new computer lab at Ukia Community Information and ICT Centre (CIC) in Makueni County, Kenya, was officially opened last week by Makueni County Secretary, Benjamin Mutie. This is a vital part of a collaboration between Makueni County, Camara Education and Dell Technologies as part of our STEM STEPS Towards Positive Futures Project.
The STEM STEPS Project is a pilot being implemented in 30 secondary schools across four counties in Kenya (Makueni, Usain Gishu, Kajado and Kilifi) as well as at Ukia CIC. This pilot project, supported by Dell Technologies, aims to ensure that Ukia CIC and the 30 selected secondary schools have the necessary ICT equipment, teacher capacity and support to fully integrate ICT into education and provide students with opportunities to develop their digital skills. The project aims to positively impact over 23,000 beneficiaries directly, as well as 133,500 indirect beneficiaries.
Wycliffe Selebwa, Country Leader for Dell Technologies in Kenya, explained “When the pandemic resulted in a new, virtual way of living, it also increased the disparity between those with access to technology and those without. At Dell Technologies, we are committed to ensuring everyone has equitable access to opportunities through technology. By working with organisations like Camara Education, we are creating an ecosystem that gives young people access to connectivity, computing devices and competency-based learning, so they can successfully participate in the digital economy and be part of the future workforce within the ICT sector. We thank Camara Education and The Makueni County Government’s Department of Education, Sports and ICT for leading initiatives that drive change and create opportunities for youth and underserved communities in the country.”
Makueni County Government’s Department of Education, Sports and ICT is fully committed to working alongside Camara and Dell Technologies to ensure the success of this project which they believe will have significant benefits for local community members. Ukia CIC is based close to Ukia primary and to four secondary schools which currently have no computers. The STEM STEPS Project will open doors for students from these nearby schools as well as other community members to access and learn from technology, which will provide significant opportunities for their futures in this digital age. Dr Naomi Makau, Executive Committee Member of the Department of Education, Sports and ICT in Makueni County expanded on this: “I am so delighted today to witness the launch of this project in Makueni County. A big Thank You to Camara Education and Dell Technologies for choosing to partner with us. This programme will be a game-changer for the community of Ukia with regard to digital access and also to the students in the selected schools. This project will truly move our youth towards positive futures. We look forward to more collaboration in your area of focus. Please accept my highest regard on behalf of the entire team of beneficiaries and the government of Makueni county”.
Sarah Musengya, Camara’s Country Manager in Kenya, said “We are very excited to officially launch the new ICT innovation hub within Ukia CIC and cement our relationship with Makueni County Government. Camara fully believes that our partnerships with the Ministry of Education, Ministry of ICT, Innovation and Youth Affairs, Teacher Service Commission, County Governments, School leaders and the local communities are vital in ensuring that we can have the maximum impact in the projects we implement. In addition to the students who are benefiting from this project within the selected schools, the inclusion of Ukia CIC, will provide opportunities for more young people both in and out of school to access and benefit from technology. We are also most grateful to our longstanding partner Dell Technologies for their continued support and commitment to driving initiatives around youth skills training in ICT.”
Our CEO, Aidan Tallon, was also present at the event and commented “I am delighted to witness some of the fantastic work being done in Makueni County and to share this special occasion with County Government officials and the Ministry of Education, local schools and community members as well as our partner, Dell Technologies, who have supported our work around driving digital inclusion for many years.”
Ifwagi Secondary School is a government school located in Mufindi, in the Iringa region of the Tanzanian Southern Highlands. It has more than 200 students from form one to form four. The school has a good environment for students to learn and succeed in their dreams.
Camara Education Tanzania has been working with long-term partner, Lyra in Africa, a local NGO, to set up an e-Learning centre and ICT club in this school. While Camara carried out the installation, provided training for teachers and students, and loaded our content onto the computers, Lyra provided funding and have also constructed a girls’ hostel at the school. Together, these initiatives help overcome many of the barriers preventing girls continuing in education. The 90 girls accommodated in the hostel will be able to use the computers after school hours, to do their homework every evening, and at weekends. The project addresses the digital divide and the lack of ICT skills amongst disadvantaged girls, which hinders not only their academic performance but also their future employment opportunities.
In the e-Learning centre we installed 20 desktop computers networked to a local classroom server. Each computer is loaded with offline educational apps, tools and resources covering different subjects. In addition, the classroom server in the centre is loaded with the Camara portal which contains more than 5000 videos, over 3000 educational articles, digital books aligned to the curriculum and hundreds of ICT videos for students. Students access the portal from their computers and the portal can track what content they are consuming as well as how much time they spend on it.
This monitoring allows teachers, school administrators, Camara and other stakeholders to understand exactly what the computers are being used for, when and for how long. This helps us understand what improvements we can make to our content and what support should be provided to teachers and students.
Camara trained 20 teachers for 5 days, covering everything from basic ICT to the integration of ICT in teaching and learning. Teachers will be able to add their own content on the portal, assign students tasks and track their progress. Students have also been trained in how to utilise the resources on computers.
The ICT club makes the centre available out of school hours and allows students to develop more in-depth digital skills such as coding and design. Digital mentors will provide support and facilitate club sessions, encouraging girls especially to acquire vital ICT skills.
Following multiple delays due to shipping congestion, our latest container of computer equipment finally arrived in Lusaka on Saturday 4th December. This container was eagerly awaited by the Camara Zambia team and schools across Zambia; our team worked over the weekend to check the computers and add our local educational content. By Tuesday 7th, the team had over 100 units ready for dispatch to schools and was on the road to Kasama, almost 900km from Lusaka, and to Copperbelt province, around 350km from Lusaka, to ensure the computers were installed in schools before they closed for the holidays on 10th December. A great end to the year for our Zambia team!
2021 is coming to an end in style for Camara Education Kenya, with the arrival of a container containing 500 computers at our office in Mombasa. Following a thorough check of the contents by our local technical staff, the computers will be delivered to thirty schools across four counties: Kilifi, Makueni, Kajiado and Uasin-Gishu. This roll-out forms part of our Stem Steps Project in association with Dell Technologies.
Field officers from our technical department will be carrying out the installations; networking the computers, installing locally appropriate curriculum material, and training educators in basic maintenance. Alongside this, teachers and school leaders will receive training in how best to incorporate ICT into their everyday teaching practice.
Kenya Vision 2030 is the long-term development blueprint for the country and is motivated by a collective aspiration for a better society by the year 2030. The aim of Kenya Vision 2030 is to create “a globally competitive and prosperous country with a high quality of life by 2030”. It aims to transform Kenya into “a newly-industrializing, middle-income country providing a high quality of life to all its citizens in a clean and secure environment”.
Education and training are among the principal catalysts towards realization of the social aims of Vision 2030 – creating an equitable and just society based on democratic ideals. Education is a basic right under the constitution, and technical training and vocational education will play a crucial role in transforming the country to a middle-income economy.
Camara Education Kenya, with its partners, well-wishers and sponsors, has been playing a crucial part in ensuring that the government of Kenya, through the Ministry of Education, is meeting its targets on the use of ICT by providing computer hardware, software, maintenance and training to institutions across the country. Since 2008, we have supported over 1200 schools and learning institutions. In 2022, Camara is aiming to raise the bar and reach yet more schools and students thanks to our partnership with Dell Technologies, who are providing funds and equipment for Kenyan schools.
Camara Education Kenya works alongside the Ministry of Education, Dell Technologies and other key agencies and partners to deliver 21st-century ICT skills and align with the competency-based curriculum initiatives put in place by the Kenyan Government. The Ministry of Education has vetted our teacher training content and has also partnered with us to train teachers. As an organization, we support the Kenyan Vision 2030 initiative.
Camara Education Kenya has for years been providing opportunities for interns from various educational institutions across the country. University and college students taking courses related to information technology get vital practical experience, helping them into employment.
This year, 17 interns spent three months working out of our office in Mombasa, under the watchful eyes of instructors Teddy Gwadiva and Peter Keah. One of them, Lucky Moiben, explained:
”I applied for the internship program at Camara Kenya’s offices in Mombasa. After going through the orientation program, we were inducted into real situations, solving and troubleshooting problems with computer hardware, software and maintenance. I gained a lot of hands-on skills, which I had just read about in theory while I was at campus. Here I could learn in a real situation, taking a problematic computer and restoring it to its normal function. I was also introduced to Linux, open-source software which was new to me since I was used to the Microsoft Windows operating system. I particularly appreciated the good relationship between staff and interns. The staff were welcoming and always ready to assist where an intern needs help.”
Nixon Ngonyo, also from Mt. Kenya University Mombasa branch, added:
”At the university I had done the theory part of the course, but here I was introduced to the real world of information technology. The past three months at Camara hub has been a tremendous experience which will stick with me for life. I joined hungry for knowledge, and fortunately I was received and coached by well-trained and experienced instructors. I can vividly recall one day when the whole staff joined us for an E-Waste collection exercise. The way they interacted with the interns was amazing. At the beginning every intern thought it would be a tough challenge, but the involvement and good humour of the staff meant that by the end of the day everyone was happy and satisfied. I look forward to finding a place of work with a working environment similar to Camara Kenya.”
The latest Green Elephant environmental podcast focuses on Camara Education, with our very own Danny Walls and Anita McWilliams being interviewed by host, Mike Saville. You can listen in here.
In the podcast, Danny and Anita discuss our work in Africa, Camara’s impact and how your old PCs can bring transformational change to the lives of some of the world’s most disadvantaged young people.
Camara exists because we believe the world would be a better place if all young people were empowered through innovative education to create the life they want to lead. In the process, we can help achieve your organisation’s environmental footprint and corporate responsibility goals.
We believe that prolonging the life of computer equipment through refurbishment and reuse is a vital step towards sustainability and protecting the natural environment. We collect surplus IT equipment from businesses and process it to the highest international environmental and data-security standards. And then we use refurbished computers to set up IT labs in African schools, load them with locally appropriate educational content, and train teachers and local staff to use and maintain them.