A ray of sunshine for IT education

The mere fact that you are reading this shows you already have more computer knowledge than the average South African public school student. 

More than 90% of schools in South Africa do not have a computer centre and 3,544 of the 24,793 schools do not have access to electricity. Whilst we have come a long way in our 20 years of democracy, inequality is still prevalent. In order to empower oneself, a good quality education is key. 

Digital literacy is undoubtedly one of the essential skills of the 21st century. If one wants a decent living, one needs to be technologically savvy. Today South Africa's society is polarised with one side of the population up to date with the latest technology but the majority left behind.

The lack of reliable mains electricity in some rural areas means that an alternative, renewable and sustainable energy source is needed to spread IT education. We need a solution to give learners access to computers and the internet regardless of their location. 

Members of United Twenty-13, a non-profit inspired by the One Young World Summit 2013, are working to tackle these problems but we need your help.

Solar Powered Learning Project
The Solar Powered learning Project is an initiative to give learners in rural areas access to computers in a low cost, energy efficient and sustainable way. We intend to provide rural schools with computer suites equipped with the Raspberry Pi computer. At less than $40 per unit, the Raspberry Pi is an amazing little machine, capable of running a wide range of educational tools. What is more these devices consume very little power meaning they can run on electricity generated from solar panels.

More important than the hardware, is the content on the computers. The Raspberry Pi can give students access to thousands of educational videos and tutorials as well as Wikipedia and e-books. Programs such as Khan Academy, Numeric and Scratch can also be used. Much of the content can be made available offline so internet access is not vital. By using Khan Academy teachers can effectively review the their students' progress and identify their weak points. This could ease the teacher's workload, allowing them more time to teach and give individual attention where needed.

In addition to installing the computer suites, we intend to set up interactive video call language lessons. The will be between pupils from a school speaking an African language and students of an English speaking school trying to learn an African language. The children from both schools will be able to help and learn from each other. It will also serve to break cultural divides and build friendships that would not have otherwise been made.

Various aspects of the project have been tested in countries around the world such as Angola, India and Ghana, but such a low cost and energy efficient solution has not made its way to South Africa. We aim to set up the first prototype of the model at a school in Cosmo City. Cosmo City is a developing area with a community eager to uplift itself. The computer suite will consist of 21 Raspberry Pi computers filled to the brim with educational content. More than 630 learners will be able to make use of the computers every week.

Our team have the skills to make this project a reality but we need further funding. So far we have raised 72% of the $10,500 needed but we’re calling on you to help us reach our target. Please contribute to our campaign today and enable us to help our youth empower themselves. 

Click here to find out how you can support our work