Green Elephant

CAMARA STARS ON THE GREEN ELEPHANT SHOW

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.

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LAUNCHING OUR NEW WEBSITE

Camara is proud to be launching a new website which more fully reflects the work we do in Africa and our new secure partnerships for handling IT equipment. Please check it out: you’ll find stories and videos outlining our operations, along with comprehensive explanations of how we operate.

These are some testimonies from students and teachers that didn’t make it onto the main website:

“My name is Ruth Shimels. I have been a student at Abenezer Academy in Gelan, in the Oromia region of Ethiopia, starting from kindergarten. Currently, I am in grade 8 and 15 years old. Last year when I was in grade 7 our school started giving us the IT class for the first time and it was a new experience and we found it very exciting.  Previously, we were taking IT class on paper and it was not easy for us to understand computers in general, let alone to work out how to use them. Now, thanks to Camara, we are learning IT with real computers. I can honestly say that these Camara computers have helped me on my maths skills now that I get to practice more.  And I can access different exams from the past so that I can practice to improve my scores. I believe my future is brighter and I want to become an architect when I grow up.”

Ellensdale Primary is a school located in the rural area of Chongwe District, Zambia. Mr Banda Alick, a Computer Studies teacher, assesses Camara’s impact:

“Before we received the Camara equipment, we only had three computers in the school which we were using to teach all the students. We had a ratio of 20 students to one computer. After receiving 40 computers from Camara, the ratio has reduced to one student per computer.  This has made my teaching easier. My classes have become more interesting as all students participate when I am teaching and they are very excited to go to the computer lab. There has been significant improvement in performance due to increased access and usage of computers.”

“My Name is Hiwot Alemu. I am a grade 10 student at St John Baptist de la Salle School in Ethiopia and I am 16 years old. So far the computers that we are using are very helpful and we are using them to improve our academic performance. I have used a computer before but these are way better than any I have previously been able to access. It’s easy for me to do my assignments now. I study Biology, Physics and Chemistry with the support of the videos which made it so easy to learn and not to forget.”

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WELCOME TO OUR NEW WORLD: WORKING IN THE COVID ERA

Camara and our ITAD partners are fully open for IT collections, and ready to work with you to ensure Covid-secure processes. As workplaces open up and adapt to the new realities of hybrid working, we are here to help your organisation’s transition, and to reuse any surplus IT equipment for a fabulous cause. Reusing end-of-life IT equipment through Camara reduces waste and contributes to your organisation’s sustainability targets. We use this equipment to help create a world where even the most disadvantaged have access to technology. So please contact us if you have any kit that could help transform the lives of children in Africa.

Not all of you may be aware that in response to increased concerns over security and sustainability, we reviewed our processes and have had new systems in place for over a year now. Our independent warehouses in Dublin and London have closed, and instead we have formed partnerships with market-leading ITAD companies to ensure best-in-class data security while continuing to offer sustainable re-use of your IT assets and best-practice e-waste management. The end result is greater security for you, while we concentrate on our strengths of working with our donors and funders to deliver education technology to disadvantaged students.

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International Day of Education 2021

Happy International Day of Education! Here at Camara Education, we believe that poverty is unacceptable in the 21st century and that one of the most efficient ways to reduce poverty is by providing education to young people in underprivileged communities. The power of education leads to opportunity – the opportunity to learn, grow and succeed.

On December 3, 2018, the United Nations pronounced that January 24 be celebrated as the International Day of Education. This amendment comes as a part of the United Nations plan to improve sustainable development by 2030. The central idea of the plan is to acknowledge that extreme poverty is a global issue that cannot go unrecognised. By declaring January 24 the International Day of Education, the United Nations is supporting the fact that improving education is key to alleviating poverty.

We are beyond excited to celebrate a cause that is at the core of our mission: to transform education using technology to empower disadvantaged students. 

In the past 15+ years, Camara has given educational opportunities to over 3.5 million young people in disadvantaged communities across Europe and Africa by providing them with access to technology and the Camara Learning Studio (CLS). We have trained over 55,000 teachers to educate these students on technology usage through the Camara Learning Academy. We have installed 150,000 computers in over 10,500 different schools.

We hope to see a day when there are equal education opportunities for all people.

Information on the International Day of Education was found at: http://www.un.org/fr/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/73/25&TYPE=&referer=/french/&Lang=E

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New agreement signed with Ethiopian Ministry of Education

We are delighted to report that in April we signed a new partnership agreement with the Ethiopian Ministry of Education (MoE).

Some details of the new agreement are as follows:

Camara Education will continue its collaboration with the Ethiopian MoE for a further three years. This new project incorporates the lessons learned from the previous two federal level projects and the pilot project in the Silte Zone with greater focus on learner outcomes.

Through this new project, Camara Education aims to:

  • Train 5,040 educators;
  • Install 21,000 computers in 840 schools and;
  • Impact 690,000 learners.

 

Pictured are our Ethiopian Country Manager Biniam Yayehyirad along with 2 officials from the MoE.

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Midlands Science Festival

Science Week is a nationwide initiative to ignite interest, engagement and uptake in STEM subjects in Irish schools, universities and educational centres. It ran this year from November 12-19th.

As part of Science Week, Camara Ireland took part in the Midlands Science Festival. This has taken place across Laois, Offaly, Longford and Westmeath over the past six years. Four members of the Camara Ireland team – Aidan Fitzmaurice, Paul Amond, Eoghan Keegan and James Lockwood – were part of a Google-funded initiative to promote Computer Science in schools across those counties. Using the CS First platform and Scratch, over 400 students and 70 educators across 8 schools were introduced to Computer Science and coding!

Our tutors visited a primary school and a secondary school in each of the four counties for the day to deliver fun, interactive sessions to students, aged 7-12, using the CS First platform. CS First allows students to get coding straight away and allows students to move at their own pace with videos guiding students through a series of activities and themes. From designing their own Google Doodle to creating interactive stories, students had a great time learning about Scratch and how to make their own programs.

On top of these sessions, teachers, parents, youth workers and other staff were given an introduction to Computer Science and CS First, so they may continue to support students in their schools. Computer Science is a subject that’s growing in popularity across Ireland and with the new Leaving Certificate pilot course, it won’t be long until more schools and students want to get on board. CS First is incredibly easy to get started on as a teacher and you can set up a club within 10 minutes. The fact that students are guided by videos means you don’t have to be an expert – all you need is an enthusiasm for the ideas and give the activities a go for yourself! Free resources are available and training can be found both online or can be done in person if you can get a group of interested educators.

We as tutors had a great time delivering the sessions and the students loved doing something a bit different for the day. It was definitely a case of them not wanting to leave when the session was done!

For those teachers who supported delivery of the sessions, they could see how engaging the platform is and there was a real enthusiasm to see how Computer Science, coding and CS First could be carried on after the session. Hopefully, this can be the start of some new things in the schools and those students who have a passion for it will get more opportunities to code and experiment with Computer Science!

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NetHope Global Summit Comes to Dublin

David Martyn, our Global Impact & Learning Manager, presented at the NetHope Global Summit held in Dublin recently. Read his account of that here:

The Nethope Global Summit came to Dublin in early November for a five day meeting of organisations and people involved in technology for development. Nethope is an umbrella organisation that promotes improvements in ICT for development and education. This provided Camara Education with an opportunity to present details on the work we are doing on data for education. On Tuesday I presented entitled ‘Harnessing Education Data for ICT4E Success’. The presentation focused on Camara’s plan for improving our data analytics capacity and using our research for project and programme improvements.

Our exciting product development strategy provides an opportunity to utilise more in-depth and varied education data. For example, the Camara Learning Studio will generate data related to individual student progression and performance which can be used by teachers and school leaders to improve pedagogical and learning outcomes. Camara will build an analytics platform with relevant statistical models to provide the metrics and information necessary.

At the same time, Camara is engaging in a research process that will work participatively with teachers, leaders and education officials to develop their capacity to utilise education information generated by Camara platforms. In September of this year, I began a PhD at University College Dublin with a research focus on contextualising narratives and metrics of education quality with a view to integrating into Camara’s projects. I will use our ZAMStem project in Zambia as a research site.

The presentation at the summit was well received and provoked some interesting questions and discussion. In particular, there was general agreement that an open repository of curriculum aligned educational content be developed and made available to organisation developing projects in this sphere. I look forward to further engagement on this issue.

David is pictured presenting above

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2017 Impact & Learning Outcomes

2017 Impact & Learning Outcomes

In 2017, Camara Education worked with 1,595 Educational Institutions, trained 7,199 educators and installed over 14,287 computers in Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Tanzania, Zambia and Ireland. In the process, 434,234 learners had access to computers and useful educational materials for their studies. In order to have a closer look at the impact of our activities, Camara Education conducts an annual Monitoring & Evaluation exercise. This exercise has proven to be vital in informing our program design, highlighting our strengths and weaknesses, evaluating the effectiveness of our approach and promoting accountability of resources used and outcomes achieved.

This year, our monitoring and evaluation exercise was conducted in schools that received computers and training from Camara Education in 2017. A sample of 80 schools from Ethiopia, Lesotho, Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia were randomly selected for the survey. Highlights of the main findings including length of computer access by learners, perception of educators and learners on the training, hardware and educational content provided by Camara Education are presented in the following sections.

Computer access by learners

In 2017, the average timetabled computer access by learners was 118 minutes per learner per week. This shows a 21% increase from 2016 and 29% increase from 2015. The longest access is reported from Tanzania with an average access time of 114 minutes per week per learner. This high level of usage from Tanzania can be related to the fact that 47% of the interviewed learners are in secondary level with higher level of computer usage than primary level learners. Reported access figures from Ethiopia have been shorter compared to other hubs for the past four years. This is mainly due to learners in Ethiopia accessing the computer labs outside teaching time rather than using the computers during their lessons.   

Capacity building for Educators

Camara Education trained 7,199 educators in 2017 alone on topics ranging from ICT Skillbuilder for Educators to 21st Century Leadership Programme. All training programmes share a common objective of integrating ICT in teaching and learning to improve quality of education. According to the results of the survey, 62% of Camara Education trained educators reported using computers to deliver presentations for learners, 57% higher than the non Camara Education educators. More Camara Education trained educators also reported using the computers to teach basic computers skills and help demonstrate lessons in their classrooms. The data, in general, indicate that the training provided by Camara Education has a positive impact in helping educators use the available technology for teaching and learning.

Hardware

In terms of quality and reliability of computers provided to the schools, 84% of educators reported the computers have been reliable to use. This is 6% increase from the figure reported in 2016 reflecting an improvement in the reliability of the computers to schools.

Educational content

There are different educational software Camara Education instals on computers provided to schools depending on the local context and need. The software cover subjects including Maths, Science, literacy, ICT skills, Geography and History subjects. The results of our survey show that 89% of the surveyed educators believe these software are relevant to the learning needs of their learners, a 9% increase from what was reported in 2016. One of the reasons for increase in satisfaction rate is addition, in 2017, of software with localised educational contents in Ethiopia.  

Camara Education's Performace

The perception of school principals on the performance of Camara Education hubs is measured using a performance scorecard. Ten key performance areas identified by school principals are scored and aggregated to generate an overall performance score for each Education hub. The ten key performance areas are:

  • Attitude of Camara Education staff
  • Ease of communicating with Camara Education
  • Meeting agreed deadlines, Provision of quality support (e.g. maintenance)
  • Provision of relevant software
  • Provision of relevant training
  • Provision of reliable hardware
  • Timely resolution of problems you have had
  • Understanding your needs and value for money

 

According to the results, Camara Education scored 84% for its performance in 2017, an improvement of 2% from 2016 and 4% from 2015.

Conclusion

The survey highlighted that the satisfaction levels on Camara Education provided ICT resources and training are generally very good and have improved from the previous year. Despite the encouraging improvements observed across the different services that Camara Education provided, there are still areas that need to be improved in some of the hubs. Camara Education trained Educators capacity to use ICT resources for teaching basic computer skills needs to be strengthened. In addition, further studies need to be conducted in order to understand the relatively low satisfaction rates on reliability of computers and relevance of educational software in some hubs. Understanding these issues will help Camara Education improve the services and products it delivers to schools.  

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The magic of ESB Creative Tech Fest

The magic of ESB Creative Tech Fest

November 1st saw the ESB Creative Tech Fest return to The Foundry at Google in Dublin. This is the national showcase of TechSpace creative education network managed by Camara Education Ireland. Over 300 young people aged between 10 and 18 from over 70 local youth clubs and groups were recognised for their project work in STEAM and Digital Media, and had the opportunity to engage in in workshops, talks and interactive exhibitions.  

18 year-old scientist and entrepreneur Ciara Judge, named by Time Magazine named in 2014 as one of the 25 most influential teens worldwide, was the key speaker at the event. Ciara inspired the young audience with her story, charting her short journey from winning the BT Young Scientist, the European Union Contest for Young Scientists and the Google Global Science Fair to becoming co-director of her first company, Germinaid Innovations, and her recent second startup PurchaseMate, while studying at MIT, Boston.

Speaking at the event Ciara said “I’m very excited to be speaking at this year’s ESB Creative Tech Fest because I believe that technology really is a game changer in creating a better world, and nobody understands that more than the youth of today”.

CREATE, INVENT, INSPIRE:
Tógra from Dingle Alli O’Mahoney, Máirtín Ó’Cathasaigh, Annie Lovisetto, Ciárán Mac Gearailt and Tríona ní Shúilleabhín pictured at ESB Creative Tech Fest – Picture Andres Poveda

Pat O’Doherty, Chief Executive of the ESB, said “We are proud to support the work of TechSpace through our Generation Tomorrow programme, which supports organisations working to empower young people through STEAM learning initiatives.  ESB Creative Tech Fest is an incredible showcase of creativity and innovation from young people across the country, and highlights their potential to find creative solutions to the challenges they face today and will face in the future.”

Google Computer Science – Foróige TechSpaces celebrated their new Computer Science (CS) skills as part of a brand new project proudly sponsored by Google.org. Young people created stories in Google CS First coding workshops, and had the opportunity to invent with the BBC MicroBit and learn about Computer Science Careers for Girls, and enjoy a robot fashion show featuring the creations of young people attending the event.

Claire Conneely, Computer Science Education Program Manager was hugely impressed by the projects on display “For the third year running, Google is proud to be hosting more than 300 young people and educators from 70 youth clubs and schools across Ireland for Creative Tech Fest. I’m completely blown away by the level of creativity and technical skills shown by the young people today in their projects and exhibitions — with these critical skills for working and living in 21st century Ireland, they are sure to go places!”

The Irish language was at the heart of ESB Creative Tech Fest with bilingual workshops, awards, exhibits and live performances. Government Chief Whip and Minister of State for the Irish language, the Gaeltacht and the Island, Seán Kyne T.D., emphasized the importance of offering young people the chance to express themselves creatively through their native language:

“ESB Creative Tech Fest is a wonderful annual event that gives young people the opportunity to express their creative ideas.  It encourages them and gives them confidence when using cutting-edge technology. The TechSpace project has clearly drawn much interest and attention, as this is the sixth year in a row that the annual event has been held.  I am delighted that Clár TechSpace is part of this magical event again this year and that my Department was able to fund the event. I would like to thank all those involved in TechSpace, as well as the schools and sponsors who have done great work to make this event happen today. “

CREATE, INVENT, INSPIRE:
Annie Lovisetto with fellow Tógra band members from Dingle pictured at ESB Creative Tech Fest – Picture Andres Poveda