Happy kids Ethiopia

Christmas Challenge: the results are in

A huge thank-you to everyone who donated to our 2022 Big Give Christmas Challenge. With your help we raised over £50,000.

That means we’ll be able to rehabilitate at least ten schools in the Amhara and Afar regions of northern Ethiopia, getting children back into school after the conflict there and providing them with the digital know-how essential to become part of a 21st century workforce.  Each school will be equipped with an eLearning centre containing 40 desktop computers, along with a server to host educational resources and allow monitoring of the computers’ usage. We’ll train five teachers from each school and provide quarterly support and maintenance visits for two years.

These pictures show some we prepared earlier.

Before and after
The lab in use

Christmas Challenge 2022

We’re proud that Camara has been selected again to take part in the 2022 Big Give Christmas Challenge, the UK’s largest match funding campaign.

Every pound donated between midday next Tuesday, November 29th, and noon on December 6th will be doubled. This year we’re raising funds to rehabilitate schools in Ethiopia that were devastated during the recent conflict there and provide them with new computers and other resources. £25, doubled to £50, will provide a refurbished computer to a school; £2,500, doubled to £5,000, will provide an entire eLearning centre together with training for its teachers and support and maintenance for a year. One donation, twice the impact.

The images here show a centre we have recently installed in one of these schools, Gojam Secondary in Amhara province.

Uhamiaji 1

eLearning Centre and Girls’ ICT club launched

On Tuesday 18th October, an official opening ceremony at Uhamiaji school in Temeke, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, saw the unveiling of our latest eLearning centre, along with an ICT club for girls. The honours were done by Temeke district commissioner Jokate Mwegelo at an event attended by a group of our trustees and supporters who are visiting Tanzania, including Camara’s founder, Cormac Lynch. Prior to this intervention, the school had over 2,800 students but only one computer – now all students will have access to the lab, while the ICT club promotes girls’ involvement in tech.

STUDENT TESTIMONIES

Sometimes it is good to remind ourselves why we do the work we do, so here are some stories from users of our ICT club at Ganze Girls School in Ganza, southern Kenya.

“I would like to thank STEM STEPS with all my heart for the impact you have made in my life and the lives of all the other girls in my school. Today, I am a member of the school ICT club to mould me through its quality education and also through the well-designed activities. My gratitude is extended to my ICT teacher and the club patron, Mwanahamisi Kahindi who taught us wholeheartedly and spent many hours helping us to gel into the ICT Club. I am currently a form 4 student having a dream to become a Database Analyst. I would not be able to say this if it were not for the seed patiently sown in me, which is already bearing fruit. Thank you for your love and support Camara Education and Technologies.”

Jane Dzidze, ICT Club member

“When I joined the ICT club, I was kind of scared about technology because I thought I would mess up and look dumb. My teacher developed an Individualised Technology Education Plan which outlined some goals for me. We started with easy technologies, added some frequencies that I would use and now I am using all the technology like all the other students.  I’m not scared of learning new things anymore and the skills and technologies I’m learning are looking awesome on my Studies. Thank you Camara and Dell for the positive futures empowerment for upgrading the lab and supporting the clubs”

“I get to learn and play using technology everyday! My school is so cool!”
  -Purity Neema age 19

“I taught in a traditional classroom and always tried to use technology. However, the technology and training provided by Camara Education and Dell Technologies improved my teaching skills to align with the technology. At the school, we successfully set up an ICT Club and the computers provided have excellent ICT professional development. Our students have grown academically by working with ICT equipment. The ICT Club continues to grow and succeed in this school. Students can view both online and offline club activities on the computers and I provide them with more stuff for more information and assign them with activities, where I can monitor their progress. The activities give immediate feedback, we take a short review period to make sure all the Club members are mastering the concepts, and then move on to ICT-based learning in individual, small and whole group activities using the information and technology presented.”

ICT teacher and club patron, Mwanahamisi Kahindi
FINASTRA_LOGO

FINASTRA AND CAMARA KENYA PARTNERSHIP

Finastra is the largest pure-play software vendor that serves the entire financial services industry. We’ve teamed up with them 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. Camara Kenya is working with seven schools as part of the Finastra project in Mathare slums. Thanks to funding from Finastra we have distributed thirty laptops to the following institutions: Mumo Education and Orphanage Center, two laptops; Destiny Community Education Center, eight laptops; Ngotas Upendo School, fourteen laptops; Mama Africa Pendo, three laptops; and one laptop each to Ngei PAG Education Center, Star Educational Center and Upendo Children’s Center.

INterns corrected

KENYA’S 2022 INTERNSHIP PROGRAMME

Camara Kenya has for years been providing opportunities for interns from educational institutions across the country. University and college students taking courses related to information technology get vital practical experience, gain work experience, satisfy some of the requirements for their qualifications and, most important of all, have a head start when it comes to finding employment.

Thirty interns (13 men, 17 women) took part in the latest program at our premises. The interns had to play a big role during our move from the old offices to the new, something which gave them a huge amount of hands-on practical experience. They learned about decommissioning and setting up devices, inventory management before and after transportation, setting up the new office and much more. “This was great experience”, said Dave Msau, one of the interns. “I have learned how to network, crimping network cables, and I learned how to share files through the LAN network thanks to the hands-on practice I gained during the time we were shifting things from the old office to the new offices.’’ The interns also greatly appreciated the improved environment at our new premises.

Dave Msau crimping cables

Ruth Muthoni, one of the latest interns, said ‘’The environment first and foremost is very conducive hence job performance is efficient. Customer service provision is great since the services that are provided are super satisfactory. Lastly, Camara handling of interns is good since the interns are guided and taught well without pressure and their efforts are always appreciated.’’

Ruth Muthoni
Utange-training-4

TEACHER TRAINING IN KENYA

The computers we provide are little use unless we have teachers who know how to use them and to get the best results for their students. So Camara Kenya provides training for teachers and school leaders to ensure that we achieve maximum impact. School leaders are targeted so that they can support teachers to optimise their school’s use of technology. Teachers are trained in ICT skills, introduced to a wide range of applications and educational software, and taught how to use these effectively in the classroom.

Teacher training session at our offices

One recent teacher-training session saw Camara Kenya support the professional development of ten teachers from Makueni and Ukia Girls Secondary Schools. The teachers attended five days training geared towards integration of ICT into STEM subjects. The training went on successfully on the scheduled days and teachers were happy with the content, which was based on 21st century ICT integration skills. In Kajiado County, Camara Kenya has also recently supported training at St Marks Kiserian. Again, the training was focused on the integration of ICT in STEM subjects and developing 21st century skills. Sixteen teachers attended the five-day training session.

Receiving a certificate at Utange Primary

Thanks to funding from the Big Give Christmas Challenge in the UK, we have also been back to retrain teachers at schools that have had e-learning centres for a few years. Utange Primary was one of the centres where schools including Utange Primary, St. Benedette Academy and Kadzandani Primary were grouped under one umbrella. The five days training showed wonderful progress and led to a proposed ICT forum where the teachers who attended the training will share their experiences and support each other as they seek to integrate ICT into their educational practices.

Guest Article – Tech for Good: How Technology Is Helping the Less Fortunate

As the gap between the rich and poor continues to widen, there’s no shortage of people willing to help, whether through charity or innovation. But who are these people? And how are they making their impact? 

While there’s no single right answer to this question, the growing number of tech-for-good companies that help bring the less fortunate up to speed with the rest of the world offers some insight into what they believe will make the biggest difference.

Then again, as technology continues to advance and change the way we live, there’s always been one question on everyone’s mind – how can this help those who aren’t as fortunate? 

Nowhere is that more true than in Africa, where the digital divide still remains wide and only continues to grow as technology advances further and further. In Africa alone, 22% of the population is without access to the internet, and even among those with access, many are limited to certain parts of the continent because of slow download speeds or prohibitively high prices charged by phone companies.

Technology has been doing wonders in the developed world, and now it’s time to take it to the next level and introduce technology into the lives of those who really need it. Not just those who simply want it but those who need it so they can improve their lives and societies around them.

A Little Bit about Technology in Africa

In Africa, there is a growing divide between those who have access to technology and those who do not. This has been dubbed the digital divide. 

While there are many factors that contribute to this divide, one of the most important is access to technology. Those who have access to technology have a significant advantage over those who do not. This is especially true when it comes to education. 

For example, in the continent, many schools are now using educational software to help students learn. This software is often not available to students who do not have access to technology. As a result, these students are at a disadvantage when it comes to their education. 

However, there are organisations working to close the digital divide in Africa. These organisations provide access to technology and the internet to those who would otherwise not have it.

According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), around 563 million people in Africa had access to the internet in 2013, although this number has been growing steadily in recent years. And there is hope that in the coming years, the majority of African citizens will have access to internet services at home.

How Technology Is Helping the Less Fortunate in Continents Like Africa

There are several issues preventing people from having access to the internet and technology in general, such as lack of infrastructure, expensive hardware and software, as well as cultural and educational factors. But it is good to know that technology is slowly shaping countries and helping them improve in ways we never thought were possible.

1. Better Education

In many rural African schools, students often share one computer between several classes. This can make it difficult for students to get the individualised attention they need to succeed. 

However, new initiatives are providing more access to computers and the internet in rural schools. For example,  there is a cause that aims to provide laptops to children in developing countries. These laptops are rugged and designed to be used in rough conditions. They also have educational software installed on them to help students learn even when they don’t have a teacher present. By giving students more access to technology, we can help close the digital divide and give everyone a fair chance at success. 

Camara, in particular, is a non-profit social enterprise that aims to focus on using technology to help the fortunate. They recycle and reuse computers and other IT equipment and use them to set up computer labs across the African continent. As of this writing, they have put more than 150,000 computers into 10,500 schools, impacting around 3,500,000 African children.

2. Improved Infant Mortality

In many parts of Africa, infant mortality rates are high. But with the help of technology, that’s starting to change. Mobile health clinics are bringing healthcare to remote areas, while apps and educational software are helping to improve literacy rates. 

In addition, the internet provides access to infant care information that was previously out of reach. It is obvious that tech is helping to save lives and improve living conditions for millions of people across Africa. 

Portable ultrasound devices are also made available in the continent, allowing doctors to see the inside of a woman’s womb and assess the growth of babies. Such devices are very affordable, and they can be easily connected to a computer or a smartphone.

3. Healthcare

In many developing countries, healthcare is often inadequate. But with the help of technology, that’s starting to change. 

For example, mobile health clinics are bringing medical care to remote areas, while telemedicine is making it possible for doctors to consult with each other and share information more easily. 

In addition, new diagnostic tools and treatments are being developed all the time. And thanks to the internet, people in far-flung corners of the world can now access this information. 

There are also programs such as NetAid, which uses digital technologies to deliver food aid. And there are countless other ways in which tech is improving lives – from cell phones providing a way for families separated by health crisis or disaster to stay connected to voice assistants helping children learn languages.

4. Job Opportunities in Emerging Markets

Technology has enabled us to create jobs that couldn’t exist without it, such as virtual assistants. It has also changed the way people live their lives and interact with each other. 

One way that technology is helping the less fortunate is by creating job opportunities. For example, in Africa, many people are employed in the tech sector. This provides much-needed jobs and helps to grow the economy. Additionally, tech companies are often able to provide training and support to employees, which can help to close the skills gap further.

Facebook even makes it possible for people to generate job opportunities for people and help them stay connected with friends and colleagues. LinkedIn, on the other hand, helps professionals find jobs by networking with potential employers, and Skype enables video calls over the internet, perfect for meetings and interviews. 

Educational software is also giving people in developing countries a chance to learn new skills and improve their prospects for employment. By bridging the digital divide, technology is helping to level the playing field and provide opportunities for people who otherwise would not have them.

5. Mobile Phones

In many parts of Africa, mobile phones are becoming increasingly prevalent. This technology is helping to connect people who previously had no way to communicate with each other. 

In addition, mobile phones are being used to access the internet and educational software. This is bridging the digital divide and giving people in Africa a chance to improve their lives. 

For example, women have been able to start small businesses selling products they create themselves through social media or by creating websites where they sell handmade crafts. Mobile phone use has also increased school attendance as children can now attend classes remotely via video streaming. 

And as text messages become cheaper than phone calls in some places, social networks are enabling people from different villages to share information about farming techniques and weather forecasts. 

Although there are still disparities between rich and poor, mobile phone ownership gives everyone access to new technologies, providing those living without electricity with power via solar panels or charging stations.

6. Bridging the Gap with Mobile Money

Mobiles aren’t just improving life for Africans but also for Europeans, Americans, and Asians. Because of mobile phones, mobile payments are now made possible, and they are proving to be more popular than cash transactions in countries such as Kenya and Zimbabwe due to high unemployment rates. 

With this system set up on the mobile phones that most Africans have access to, it’s not only easy but also safe to do business using a credit card number stored on your phone rather than carrying around large amounts of cash that can be stolen or lost easily. 

In Kenya, mobile money services like M-Pesa provide bank accounts and mobile banking in remote areas without access to traditional banks. 

Mobile payments will continue to grow in popularity as smartphones continue increasing worldwide usage rates while expanding into developing nations; a trend that should only help everyone involved.

7. Reaching Remote Areas

The internet and mobile technology are increasingly becoming a lifeline for many people in rural and remote areas of Africa. With access to the internet, people are able to connect with family and friends, get news and information, find jobs, and do business. 

People can even educate themselves and perform basic troubleshooting in case they find that a computer turns on by itself. They need not go to the city to find a certified technician to do the fixing.

Mobile technology is also helping to close the digital divide by providing access to educational software, health information, and other services that can improve quality of life. 

8. Mapping Libraries

In many developing countries, access to technology and the internet is limited. But organisations are working to change that by mapping libraries. With just a smartphone, locals can map their library’s books, making it easier for people to find and borrow books. This not only helps people gain access to information but also helps libraries keep track of their inventory.

In some African countries, mapping libraries are also being established to help bridge the digital divide. These libraries provide access to IT, the internet, and educational software for those who wouldn’t otherwise have it. They also offer training on how to use these technologies. So far, these mapping libraries have had a positive impact on the lives of many people in Africa.

9. Creating Businesses

Starting a business can be incredibly difficult. The lack of access to resources, infrastructure, and funding can make it nearly impossible to get a business off the ground. 

However, technology is helping to level the playing field and give entrepreneurs in developing countries a fighting chance. Cloud computing, shared platforms, and open-source software programs are changing the game. Developing nations now have access to tools that they would not have been able to afford or develop on their own. 

Platforms like TARGIT; an open-source platform used by nonprofits to help individuals manage data from disparate sources (such as company financial reports), so they can better understand their sector or industry; allow people with few technical skills who may not have had exposure to technology before to contribute meaningful work without extensive training. 

Technology can empower those who are less fortunate by creating economic opportunities or providing resources for better education and health care.

10. Domestic Work

In many developing countries, women make up a large percentage of the domestic workforce. Aside from caring for children and cooking meals, they often have to walk long distances to collect water and firewood. 

However, technology is beginning to change this. In Rwanda, for instance, many women now use solar-powered lamps to light their homes and cookstoves, which has not only saved them time but also reduced their exposure to harmful smoke inhalation. A woman can now spend more time with her family or do an extra shift at work because she doesn’t need to worry about wasting fuel. 

11. Employee Productivity

It’s no secret that technology can help boost employee productivity. By automating certain tasks, providing easier access to information, and facilitating communication, tech can help employees work more efficiently and effectively. In turn, this can help small businesses increase their bottom line. 

And when businesses do well, they can create more jobs and opportunities for people in their communities. For example, Nigeria has a large population of youths who are not currently working or being educated. Businesses that invest in developing apps and programs can have a huge impact on these communities by creating job opportunities for many people. 

12. Agriculture and Large-Scale Farming

Farming in Africa has been traditionally very manual and time-consuming, making it difficult to scale up and be profitable. However, with the advent of new technologies, large-scale farming is becoming more feasible. 

For example, GPS-guided equipment can help farmers sow seeds more accurately, and drones can be used for crop mapping and monitoring. Apps and software programs are also being developed to help farmers with things like irrigation and pest control. 

Moreover, aerial images can now be generated by drones and satellites, and soil sensors can already be installed to manage and control crop growth in real-time. Zenvus, a precision farming startup tech, aims to measure and analyse soil data like nutrients and temperatures to help farmers determine the right amount of fertiliser and water required in farms.

These advances in technology are helping to increase yields and incomes, making a big difference for smallholder farmers across Africa.

Wrapping Up

The digital divide between people who have access to technology and those who don’t is becoming smaller every day as technology becomes more available to the masses. While this means we can help millions of people become more educated and financially sound, it also means that we need to make sure that technology is doing good things and not just making us lazier or more distracted. By thinking about how we can improve our world through tech, we can help those in need while also improving our own quality of life.

 

This was a guest article written by Jessica Bullet from Software Tested

Kasama teacher training

Christmas Challenge – an update on our progress

Regular maintenance of hardware and teacher capability are two key aspects in ensuring that students in schools supported with computers from Camara get the maximum benefit from them. Unfortunately, these areas are often neglected in schools that are desperately short of funds. Thanks to our 2021 Big Give Christmas Challenge Campaign, Camara Zambia was allocated funds to provide 50 schools with maintenance support and teacher capacity development. This support is helping ensure that computers remain functional and their life-span maximised, as well as providing teachers in the selected schools with ICT Skillbuilder training to enhance their digital skills and incorporate digital technology into their lessons.

Teacher training session

Although there were a number of delays at the beginning of 2022 with gaining approval to access the schools and start rolling out teacher training due to changes at the Zambian Ministry of General Education, the project is now well underway.

113 teachers have so far undergone training at sixteen schools in Southern, Lusaka, Copperbelt and Muchinga Provinces. Only fourteen of these teachers had any prior training so this support is vital in helping teachers gain the basic skills they need to use computers in their lesson planning and their teaching. 

Twenty-one schools in Southern and Lusaka provinces have been supported by our maintenance team – fixing any non-functioning devices and advising on safe and environmentally appropriate means to dispose of any e-waste.

Abbishy Chisenga is a teacher of Agricultural Science at Kampinda School in Kasama. He previously worked at a school in Lusaka which was also supported by Camara. He said:

“I recently attended training with Camara. Their training is so beneficial that teachers are now able to teach their various lessons using computers, lesson planning is done through computers to make their work easier. Computers from Camara are fed with offline libraries where learners can research their work and do their assignments, teachers can find academic games that suit the lever of learners!

It’s awesome being trained by Camara!

Thanks to Camara for your wonderful training, my lessons are now easier to deliver and they are so interesting to all my learners!”

Abbishy Chisenga

Sister Agnes Chirwa, another beneficiary of the training, commented “The Camara training session has come at the right time when I needed to learn more on how to use online applications such as Zoom for my meetings. I greatly appreciate the help and support given to our institution, Monze Youth Projects, as we are also empowering people from our local community. I would like to integrate the digital skills acquired to all the members of staff so that learners fully benefit.”

And Yvonne Chibuye Miselo, from Mumana primary school, Lusaka, added This programme should continue even to other teachers that they can also benefit and have the same knowledge that we have acquired. We greatly appreciate Camara for inviting our school and we are looking forward to attending further trainings from Camara in the future”

Shimelis Habte school

Shimelis Habte – 15th school where an e-learning centre was developed in partnership with Dell Technologies

Shimelis Habte Secondary was a school previously supported by Dell Technologies and Camara in 2018. The elearning centre installed at the time consisted of 20 Desktop computers with fully loaded content onto them. Four years on, thanks again to Dell’s support, Camara provided additional maintenance on all hardware, and replaced 6 computers that were out of date. All content was updated, and teachers were given refresher training. Additionally, we upgraded the lab by completing network installation in this school. As the eLearning centre is connected to the Internet, we are now also able to remotely track students’ activities through Dell’s high-end server installed at our hub in Addis Ababa.

Shimelis Habte school
Inauguration of the elearning centre at Shimelis Habte in 2018 by Dell EMEA president
Shimelis Habte school
Students using the upgraded eLearning centre in 2022
Shimelis Habte school
Shimelis Habte school