Today, a Hole in a Wall. Tomorrow, the Whole World Online.

Posted by Elena Martin.

From Steve Kwan via Creative Commons

Sugatra Mitra installed a computer in a hole in a wall on a street in Kaljaki, New Delhi to see how effectively children could teach themselves technology as part of what would become his Hole-in-the-Wall Project. The computer had a cover to protect it from the elements, an opening for the kids’ hands to reach the keyboard, cable internet, and a webcam to track the progress.

Left alone and with no incentives or instruction, over three hundred children were able to go from never having touched a computer to tech whizzes. With these initial results, Mitra expanded the project to 23 more sites and was able to show that children across India were able to reach technological literacy at the same rate, independent of their location or economic status. Mitra proved that kids are information sponges, much more apt to keep up with technological changes than older generations, and that the only barrier to technological insertion for most kids is simply a lack of access.

More on the idealist website

Mind you, beware of people who believe technological insertion is a good thing per se… reminds me of the ARPA report to congress in 1972: “the long-sought goal is direct and intimate coupling between man and the computer.”

‘Wi-fi networks must be removed from schools’ teachers insist

Wireless ‘wi-fi’ technology should be removed from schools to prevent millions of children suffering a heightened risk of cancer and sterility, teachers have demanded. The Association of Teachers and Lecturers called for classroom wireless networks to be suspended immediately until research has properly considered the threat to health.

Members said they were concerned by scientific reports linking wi-fi with impaired concentration, loss of short-term memory, chromosome damage and increased incidence of cancer.

Senegal: Behind the guise of competitive prices

The “business and markets can solve everything” propaganda is not restricted to the West. When it fails to deliver, community initiatives that don’t prioritize profit could be a solution. Businesses will go where the money is.

CALGARY (LC for APCNews) – Cybercafés are in decline in Senegal. Too much offer compared to demand because of prices that are still out of reach for the average Senegalese, have resulted in the closure of many of these access points to knowledge and communication, once found around the clock on every street corner in Dakar.

The arrival of a much-anticipated new operator, Expresso only led to disappointment – the operator jumped into the mobile telephone market rather than focus on the much-needed fixed telephony and internet sector. As a result, the state-owned operator continues to control basic infrastructure, creating a mere façade of competition among operators.
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“Cybercafé in a container”: Kenya’s mobile internet stations

What do you do when you want to install a telecentre but there is no building available to house it? APC member Arid Lands Information Network has solved the problem by building cybercafe in shipping containers. These containers, known as maarifa (or knowledge) centres are fully equipped with computers and internet access and can be moved when the need arises.

Internet for Rural Paraguay

One hundred institutions in rural areas of Paraguay with access to the internet. Poor indigenous communities experiencing contact with the world beyond their local surroundings for the first time ever. These are just a few snapshots of the outcomes achieved by Oportunet, a project launched in 2007 in Paraguay that has demonstrated the potential of the internet as a door to economic and social development in the poorest communities. Continue reading “Internet for Rural Paraguay”

Radio France International talks to Tanzanian rural telecentre pioneer

The Family Alliance for Development and Cooperation (FADECO) has come a long way since 1993, when Joseph Sekiku and friends formed an alliance to help overcome poverty in north-western Tanzania.
Starting as a network of people sharing an internet connection, the small telecentre eventually became a computer literacy training station, an internet café, and has expanded to an informative radio station reaching two million listeners, many of whom are farmers. Radio France International interviewed Joseph after his story was featured in an APC study called Unbounded possibilities: Observations on sustaining rural ICTs. Listen to the interview (mp3 file):

Recent Reports Demonstrate Need for Modern Communications

Two recent reports from Survival show how badly communications are needed by remote tribal people. Even the remotest, as yet ‘uncontacted’ tribes are facing annihilation as their forests are being destroyed. November reports from Brasil and Paraguay both tell of uncontacted people fleeing from forest destruction. It is their very remoteness that facilitates the illegal activities that are the main cause of their troubles. Continue reading “Recent Reports Demonstrate Need for Modern Communications”

APC Report: Mobiles no Replacement for Real Internet

This is from the Association for Progressive Communications, which we will join as soon as we have charitable status! Some areas that would benefit from our services are more difficult to fundraise for if they already have mobile phone coverage. The following goes some way to countering that trend.

Mobile phone towers dominate the landscape of many countries where decent internet access still remains a dream. The Economist is telling us that mobile is all that matters now and many donors have succumbed to this vision, retreating en-masse from rural information and communication technology development. The author of a new report commissioned by APC concludes that “This has left the development of ICTs in the hands of large, highly-centralised telecoms.” This edition, APCNews looks at the rationale behind getting internet into rural areas via wireless and not leaving it all to mobile, and reports back on real-life community efforts that have been taking internet access to parts of Latin America ignored by large companies. We also cover a tiny new hand-held computer that runs for hours and hours and hours… Continue reading “APC Report: Mobiles no Replacement for Real Internet”