Great Ghanaian girls, a classroom in a box and a hole in the wall …


In 2006 IT specialist Mike Rosenberg volunteered to set up a computer classroom for street children in Ghana, but the costs of power and support were defeating. Undeterred he sought a solution.

By the following year his company, Aleutia, had developed and released a fanless exceptionally efficient energy efficient solid state computer and delivery on the company’s promise to transform education and healthcare in Africa and the rest of the world was underway.

 “I’ve always been inspired by the remote chain of Aleutian Islands off the coast of Alaska, where life thrives in extreme and extraordinary conditions. For me the name Aleutia embodies the challenges we design our computers for, the precariousness of life.” Mike Rosenberg, Aleutia Founder

Aleutia understands the importance of low carbon energy efficiency in rural Africa, where every watt counts, and is committed to bridging the digital divide in Africa.

Three inspiring projects

Classrooms in a box

At Rubiri School, Kenya, a solar “Classroom in a Box” was installed in a day, thereby transforming the lives of hundreds of students. It started when a middle class school raised US$10,000 by parents sponsoring their kids not to watch TV for a month. This money was given to a poorer rural school to install a solar powered classroom but the generous gesture was insufficient to set up and equip the facility.

Rubiri School, Kenya. A Solar Classroom in a Box installed within a day, transforming the lives of hundreds of students

Rubiri School, Kenya. A Solar Classroom in a Box installed within a day, transforming the lives of hundreds of students.

Aleutia’s solution: by preselecting the cable and charging equipment an integrated solar classroom in a box, completed with Linux and free open source software was installed within a day. Further costs were saved by using a local company to mount panels and weld the frames. The impact was that 628 students, and 100 new ones every year, were able to use a computer for the first time.

In 2011, the Ugandan government made a promise to provide ICT access to all schools, a project to be managed by the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC).

But the vast majority of these schools are in remote areas without any access to electricity, so the roll out hit some major snags. Here too the “Classroom in Box” formula has provided the answer via revenue from Uganda’s mobile phone carriers. One per cent of their revenue goes to the Rural Community Development Fund, which pays for these solar classrooms. So it’s the phone calls of Uganda’s millions that are providing ICT access to their children, rather than being funded by foreign aid.

Making Ghanaian Girls Great! (MGCubed)

Here the challenge was to improve the quality of education and make “distance learning” engaging for young woman in rural Ghana

Transforming the lives of Ghanaian girls through engaging distance learning

Transforming the lives of Ghanaian girls through engaging distance learning

Making Ghanaian Girls Great! (MGCubed) is a first-of-its-kind project focusing on ‘interactive distance learning’. The aim was to provide 72 government schools with solar powered computers and projectors and broadcast live teaching sessions from studios in Accra. The project would impact more than 5,000 marginalised girls through access to a quality of education that would transform their future.

A “Hole in the Wall” in Ethiopia

The Hole-in-the-Wall initiative was originally a social experiment carried out in a Delhi slum whereby a computer was installed in a wall at a one metre height – the right height for children to use, but not for adults. There were no instructions, just an isolated computer poking out of a wall. What happened? Well, children just started using it and teaching each other. The project’s success led to a similar social experiment in rural Ethiopia.

Solar computer “hole in the wall” project provides free ICT access to children in a rural Ethiopian village

Ethiopia hole in the wall

With the support of Aleutia the Hole-in-the-Wall project was replicated with two computers, running on solar and set up in a school, rather than on a street corner. The computers were pre-loaded with an open source system featuring typing games, astronomy, chemistry and math applications, as well as, an offline version of Wikipedia. A school with no periodic table now had an interactive digital one. Some 700 local children and from neighbouring villages used the computers, showing how two computers could create a massive difference.

The above story was compiled from the Aleutia website. For more information click here.










About Author

Peter has a career in publishing and conservation spanning more than four decades. His most recent project has been the development of Untold Africa, a meeting place for intelligent, engrossing and entertaining dialogue for a global community of like-minded people - people who share a common passion for the wild places of Africa, the creatures that inhabit them, and the breadth of African culture. See more

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