We are excited to be installing Kolibri on the laptops and Raspberry Pi computers we take to Zambia.
Kolibri is a Learning Management System designed to run on low-power devices, targeting the needs of learners and teachers where there is limited infrastructure. A user can install Kolibri and serve the app on a local network, without an internet connection. Kolibri installations can be linked to one another, so that user data and content can be shared. Users can create content for Kolibri and share it when there is network access to another Kolibri installation or the internet.
At its core, Kolibri is about serving educational content. A typical user (called a Learner) will log in to Kolibri to consume educational content (videos, documents, other multimedia). They can test their understanding of the content by completing exercises and quizzes, with immediate feedback. A user’s activity will be tracked to offer individualized insight (like “next lesson” recommendations), and to allow user data to be synced across different installations — so a Kolibri learner can use his or her credentials on any linked Kolibri installation, for instance on different devices at a school.
Read more about the ideas behind Kolibri here
Find out how to install it here
I’ve just submitted the annual report for Giakonda Solar Schools to the Charities Commission. What a busy and productive year it’s been!
We made a visit to Siavonga, Southern District, Zambia. Our party consisted of four trustees and three other volunteers.
We used a £3000 grant from The Waterloo Foundation to undertake a solar installation at Kawila Primary School. We also donated 4 laptops, LED lighting, a projector, and a Raspberry Pi computer acting as a hotspot to deliver RACHEL offline learning resources. (Remote Area Community Hotspot for Education and Learning).
On that same visit we installed a Synology Server with RACHEL in three large schools that had mains power, and held 7 teacher training sessions.
We put a Raspberry Pi server and RACHEL in Siavonga Teachers Resource Centre.
Meanwhile in Swansea: we volunteered to be part of BBC DIYSOS project to set up and equip a supported living house for care leavers. We supplied and installed 12 PCs and laptops there, along with a wifi network.
Giakonda Solar Schools received the Hub Cymru Africa (HCA) Innovation Award for our effective solution for supplying learning resources to rural off-grid schools in Zambia.
With a grant of £10000 from HCA we carried out solar installations in three schools, two of which were only accessible by boat. We gave each school 2 laptops, LED lighting, and a projector, plus the Raspberry Pi with RACHEL.
Training sessions were held at Siavonga High School.
We took part in International Womens’ Day and Youth Day and Howard was invited to address the Engineering Institute of Zambia Conference on the importance of learning computer science. We established good working relations with the new District Education Board Secretary in Siavonga.
We set up a group interested in taking part in a beekeeping project. Members consisted of a local womens’ group, Daughters of Naomi, and teachers from four rural schools.
We visited Monze District to assess needs of Kampuna School so that we could return later in the year to install solar power there. We held a teacher training session and met the Monze District Education Board Secretary. We also met a Bee trainer to arrange for him to support the group in Siavonga.
Before we left Zambia, we held well attended training sessions at Chilanga Primary School(Lusaka) and met Chilanga DEBS.
We were given £5000 to be spent on behalf of Friends of Monze.
With this, we installed solar panels in Kampuna and Mwiinga Malimvwa schools, supplying laptops, LED lights, Projectors and Raspberry Pi with RACHEL.
We held 5 training sessions at Lushomo School, Monze Primary School and Monze Resource Centre.
We supplied RACHEL on a Raspberry Pi to 5 other schools, the Teachers’ Resource Centre and the DEBS office.
Our bee trainer, Phillip, delivered three days hands on training and set up hives in Siavonga schools (Kabbila, Kawila, Matuwa, Bbakhasa) and for the Daughters of Naomi.
We met with Registrar of NGOs in Lusaka and began the process of getting registered as international NGO there.
The bee trainer made a follow up visit taking another hive for each group. He was pleased to report that there were bees in the hives at 2 locations.
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We are very pleased to announce that we have received the following grant funding for 2019.
Welsh Government’s Wales for Africa Grants Scheme has awarded Giakonda Solar Schools £10,000 to supply solar power to three more schools in the Siavonga District of Zambia. We’ve identified these with the help of the local District Education Board Secretary. We hope to visit in the spring to carry out the project, which also includes the installation of laptops, projectors, and LED lights. At the centre of our solution lies the offline learning resource of RACHEL (Remote Area Community Hotspot for Education and Learning). This is delivered to all wireless enabled devices via a Raspberry Pi computer used as a wireless hotspot.
We must also thank The Waterloo Foundation who have awarded us £3200 to carry out research in Siavonga District. We want to find out the impact our project is having on pupils, teachers and the wider community served by the schools. We have supplied solar power as the infrastructure for learning resources. Now we need to prove the impact that has had. We’ll publish our findings on our return from Zambia.
We held two training sessions at Monze Resource Centre which were each attended by 18 teachers from local schools. Howard introduced Libre Office Writer and Libre Office Calc which we supplied on donated laptops to three of the more remote schools.
Teachers soon got to grips with the software and feedback from the session was very positive.
We planned to visit Kampuna, a rural school built by Friends of Monze. It is a standard design school consisting of 3 classrooms and a head teacher office. It has no mains power.
Our purpose was to install two 320W solar Panels and two 220Amh Batteries to provide power.
We expected to be using the vehicle belonging to the Ministry of Education – a Land Cruiser that can cope well off-road. Due to a mix-up we had no land cruiser. A local boarding school stepped in to provide a lorry!
Members of the local community helped get the panels on the roof and connected to the batteries. They mounted the solar controller, fuse box and battery gauge neatly on a piece of wood. The solar set up was complete.
The school can use solar power to charge laptops, run a projector and have LED lighting. We also installed a Raspberry Pi computer which acts as a wireless hotspot and delivers an off-line learning resource called RACHEL (Remote Area Community Hotspot for Education and Learning). This resource contains a vast amount of learning materials to help teachers research unfamiliar subjects, prepare lessons and present them via the projector. It can be accessed via any wireless enabled device.
Some women from the PTA spent a lot of time looking at health guides and at African storybooks.
An enterprising local barber turned up with his clippers and gave Howard a haircut! He had immediately seen the potential of solar power.
Friends of Monze have just completed the building of a 3 classroom school and teacher’s house in the very remote village of Mwiinga Malimvwa.
Villagers made the bricks and provided the labour. Nine young people were trained as apprentice bricklayers on the project. All completed the qualification including three young women.
Giakonda Solar Schools installed two solar panels to provide power for LED lighting, laptops and a projector. We also set up RACHEL on a Raspberry Pi so that the school has a large learning resource.
Today was the official handover to the District Education Board Secretary. About 400 people turned up to join the celebration, and partake of the feast.. There was singing and dancing, but also a lot of long speeches!
Rural schools in Zambia are very short of money. With that in mind, Giakonda Solar Schools has started a project to provide an income for Bbakasa, Matuwa, Kabbila and Kawila Schools.
We sent down a beekeeper trainer from Monze to run a three day course. The four schools and a Women’s Group sent representatives, and there were a total of 18 attendees.
Phillip taught them with a mix of classroom learning and hands on experience. They looked at the topbar hives we bought them and melted beeswax to paste inside the hives to attract bees. We are amazed to report that one of the hives already has bees!
We supplied two types of bee suits for the trainee beekeepers to use – one resembling white overalls with a hat and veil attached; the other a long jacket with the hood and veil.
Although African bees have a fiercesome reputation, no-one was frightened off! They are very enthusiastic indeed and have told us they intend to form a cooperative.
We are very excited that this project has got off to such a good start.
Category : zambia
We visited Lushomo Primary School in Monze to see how they are using the Raspberry Pi computer with RACHEL offline learning resource. We have refurbished 5 laptops for them on behalf of Friends of Monze.
We held a training session for their teachers to familiarise themselves with the laptops and their software. This included a reminder of how to access RACHEL and opportunity for teachers to feed back on interesting information they found on the resource.
The afternoon ended with a very brave Howard teaching computer science to a class of 90 Grade 5 pupils (via an interpreter as these rural children have little English!)
We’ve been busy preparing for our upcoming projects.
In June/ July 2018 we will be installing solar equipment at two remote schools built by Friends of Monze on behalf of their trustees. The set up consists of two 35oW solar panels and two 220Ah deep cycle batteries. This powers LED lighting, Raspberry Pi with RACHEL learning resources, a projector and laptops.
We have organised a wide reaching training agenda for them. This will include Using and Maintaining the Solar panel System, Using RACHEL on a Raspberry Pi to access educational resources, and Securing and Maintaining a Computer Network.
We are also applying for grant funding to equip six more schools in Siavonga District with the same solar system. That would bring the grand total there to 17!
We are in the process of being registered as an NGO in Zambia which will make it easier to take out computer equipment to the schools we support.
Read more about our project in Zambia here.
In October we are planning to travel to Tanzania to work with Heshima . All very exciting!