October 26, 2016

Ghana Together

Engineers Without Borders Invitation to Ghana Travelogue---See YOU There!!

We are happy to post this invitation to a Travelogue on the recent Engineers Without Borders visit to Axim. (You saw our last News Update...if not, scroll down a bit). Put on your best Ghanaian "duds" and we'll see you there!!


Hello All,

Please join us for the Ghana Travelogue on Wednesday 11/9 from 5:30-7:00 at Mount Baker Theater's Encore Room (entrance off Champion Street), in Bellingham, WA.

This event is free, and open to the public (donations accepted). Please feel free to bring your family, friends, coworkers, etc. to hear about our recent trip to Axim, Ghana to evaluate the performance of our sanitation project built in 2014. This was our chapter's fourth visit to Axim, and it's great to see all of the progress that has been made. 

Please post the attached flier at your school, office, library, favorite coffee shop, or on your favorite bulletin board.

See you there!!

Colleen Mitchell

(And if you haven't yet, please vote for our Kenya water supply project on Penetron's Facebook page by midnight tonight!! We are competing to win grant funding to help improve water supply for the residents of Kiritiri, Kenya.) 


by Ghana Together (noreply@blogger.com) at October 26, 2016 07:05 PM

October 22, 2016

Ghana Together

Engineers Without Borders Evaluate UDDT-style Toilets in Axim, Ghana

Yes, we're into toilets again!! Bear with us...:)
Thank you, Pacific Northwest Chapter of Engineers Without Borders, for revisiting Axim to evaluate the “urine diversification/dehydration (dry) toilets” (UDDTs) and generally taking an in-depth look at all things “toilets.”
Colleen Mitchell (you’ve met her before in prior News Updates) and Evan Dahl traveled to Axim this Sept, primarily to evaluate the first UDDT in the Axim/Nzema East area.

Colleen Mitchell, Evan Dahl with sunglasses, and one of UDDT contractor's staff in Axim, Ghana. They are examining the growing area behind one of the UDDTs, which has been fertilized for nearly three years by urine.
They were hosted by our Western Heritage Home affiliates in Axim: James Kainyiah, Chair, and Evans Arloo, Operations Manager. Thank you!

In 2013-2014, this EWB chapter designed, funded, traveled to Axim to initiate, oversaw building, and trained students and staff for a new-design UDDT-type toilet at the Axim Catholic-Government Junior High School.

Colleen Mitchell in 2013 just prior to building a new toilet. This was the sole toilet at the Catholic-Government JHS School, for about 200 students

Current toilet at the Catholic-Gov't JHS, thanks to the Pacific Northwest Chapter of Engineers Without Borders. In Sept 2016, having been in use for about three years, Colleen and Evan evaluated this toilet thoroughly as to use, maintenance, design considerations, etc.
We, with our Western Heritage Home affiliates based in Axim, helped a bit by finding a potential school, introducing the concept to school leaders, staff, and parents, and generally using our experience in Axim to pave the way.
And, based on the success and improvements we saw at the EWB’s initial project, we of Ghana Together funded and built two more prototype UDDTsat the Methodist-Government Primary/JHS School, and a smaller one for the young male students at the Community Development Vocational Technical Institute.

Toilet at the Methodist-Gov't School for primary students in early 2015

New UDDT type toilet funded by Ghana Together at the Methodist Government School, in March 2016. We used EWB's design, with some changes based on input from local experience, and the same contractor
But, it was time for the expert EWB engineers to evaluate the viability of the UDDT installations in Axim.
Certainly, these toilets are not the highly-desired, WC-flush-type---we understand that--- but given Axim's current infrastructure development, this concept is a big step forward, and makes sense,especially for children and youth in schools. (Note that about half of Ghana’s 20.000 public schools are entirely without toilets, as are thousands of private schools.)

Evan and Colleen found that, generally, the UDDT concept is working out well.
Some positives:

·         good support and promise of protection while visiting in the area from the Municipal Chief Executive

·         no discharge of untreated waste that can contaminate water sources

·         students clean their UDDT once/week

·         paper and cloth/paper menstrual supplies can go right with waste and it don’t have to be burned or buried separately

·         best toilets students have, so they “hold it” until they get to school

·         soap hanging from a rope is very good—encouraging kids to wash hands after every use

·         urinal size is ok

·         no odor present in inactive chambers

·         compost was high-quality, dry, soil-like

·         students and teachers are catching on to the use of red/green plugs to signal which chambers are in use and which are sealed for a year

·         teachers who had no toilet at their schools for themselves really appreciate the dedicated “teacher stall”
Colleen and Evan met with community leaders, school staffs, and students. They GOT a lot of feedback---they GAVE a lot of feedback!

They left detailed notes/report for each school for recommended changes and improvements.

They and Western Heritage Home representatives also visited the local rubber plantation, which also uses the “dry toilet” concept, along with the fertilizer produced, in the villages located on their lands. There are others in the Axim area, such as coconut farmers, who have expressed tentative interest in the fertilizer produced by these toilets.

It is our hope that the three prototype UDDTs now in Axim, used by students from kindergarten through young adult vocational students, will provide local leaders sufficient information to use this design in future toilet construction.
This is NOT just about providing toilets, although we'd love to build more!!

MOSTLY, it's about bringing to folks in Axim this workable concept to build better toilets, requiring only local materials, labor, and expertise.
 Axim area leaders now have detailed information from the local contractors who actually did the construction; technical drawings and details from EWB; evaluations from meeting with Colleen and Evan; extensive published technical literature we’ve supplied about UDDTs worldwide; and ample feedback from the actual day-to-day teachers and students who use the UDDTs.
Sure, there can be ongoing improvements to the concept—but these 3 toilets set a new benchmark.

The trick, we well understand, is usually not the lack of sincere desire on the part of leaders, but the persistent lack of funds.
New UDDT toilet funded by Ghana Together at the Community Development Vocational Technical Institute and newly opened about two weeks ago. This is for 40-50 male students only, and therefore is smaller. The guys had no toilet at all prior to this one.
Just a little backstory here:
Ghana is having a national election, too, as a firmly democratic country. What struck us about THEIR election is the pledge (the “Manifesto”) by one of the Presidential candidates, made at the Banquet of the State House on Sept 14, 2016 that, if elected, he will end the “age-old menace of open defecation” by 2021!

Great goal, but tempered by the Ghana Demographic and Health Survey 2014, which found twenty-one percent of Ghanaians have no access to a toilet and still use the bush or open field for defecation. And this is even worse in rural areas, such as Axim, where it reported at least thirty-four percent of the population still practice open defecation.
This is a call to action for Ghana’s leaders. We hope the efforts of EWB, to share knowledge that is being used successfully in many parts of the developing world, and with help from us, will help improve the situation for folks in at least one town in Ghana.
NOW, we ask you to click on the Ashley-Vance Engineering website link below.

Then make sure to click at the end of the brief article, where it says “click HERE to see the video…”  

(Evan is employed by the Ashley & Vance Engineering Company.)
NOTE: Readers, especially Ghanaians, interested in more details can contact us at info@Ghana Together.org and we’ll get you connected.
For prior News Updates, go to http://ghanatogether.blogspot.com/
Email us at info@ghanatogether.org 
See our website at http://ghanatogether.org
We are a registered 501c3 non-profit, ID 26-2182965

by Ghana Together (noreply@blogger.com) at October 22, 2016 11:22 AM

October 17, 2016

One Laptop per Child

Support @OLPC and Meet @AntoGriezmann and the @Atleti co Madrid Team at the Derby


Ready for the ultimate Derby experience? Here it is. You and a friend will be there as Atleti takes on Real Madrid, and you’ll get VIP access like no one else. Not only will you take pictures with the Atleti team after their practice on November 19th, but you’ll also snap legendary photos on the field before the big game. When it’s finally time for the Derby on November 20th, you’ll watch the showdown from the best seats in the house: the President Suite. Afterwards, you’ll hit up the exclusive players’ press conference, meet Antoine Griezmann and he’ll hand you a signed jersey while you collaborate with a solidarity initiative. Enter and participate!:  http://bit.ly/DerbiMadridVIP

SOIS LÀ POUR LE DERBY MADRILÈNE! Assiste à Atlético-Real Madrid en Présidentielles au Vicente Calderón et obtiens un maillot dédicacé par Antoine Griezmann tout en participant à une action caritative! Clique et participe!:http://bit.ly/DerbiMadridVIP 
¡VIVE EL DERBI MADRILEÑO EN DIRECTO! Asiste al Atlético-Real Madrid en el Palco Presidencial del Vicente Calderón y consigue una camiseta firmada por Antoine Griezmann mientras colaboras con una iniciativa solidaria. ¡Entra y participa!:  http://bit.ly/DerbiMadridVIP 

by mariana at October 17, 2016 04:24 PM

October 12, 2016

One Laptop per Child

Kamba Dyami: An Unusual Friend

Guest post by  Richard Caraballo from the Kamba Dyami Project in Angola

Paul wasn’t a typical child from Angola. He was quiet as well as shy, but he was always laughing. He had green eyes and black hair. He was very tall for his age.  He was living in a poor neighborhood called Lixeira (Portuguese for “dustbin”).

kamba-dyami-2 It was a normal day when Paul arrived at school. Deep in his heart, he felt that something was about to happen, but he didn’t know what. When he enteredhis classroom, he saw that his peers were excited about something. So he asked his teacher: “Why is everyone so excited?” The teacher answered: “We have a new friend named Kamba Dyami and it is a computer.” Paul asked: “Kamba Dyami?” “Which means MY FRIEND in one of the African languages used in Angola. The language is called Kinbundu”,said the teacher. Paul sat in his place a little bit confused, though he liked the idea of having this new friend as he’d never had a computer in his hands before.

After ten minutes, the teacher entered with the “new friend” and gave one to each student. The teacher also got a new friend, but he didn’t know how it worked either.

Two of Paul´s friends, who were living near his house, asked him about this computer, but Paul couldn´t explain what it was because it was the first time he held one.

The class was very noisy when a stranger entered. At the moment when he entered everyone made silence. This strange man came to explain all about Kamba Dyami. Also, he came with a challenge for the class. Everyone had to make a video about their neighborhood using this new technology. After one week, he was to choose one to receive a prize.

The strange man gave them a few instructions. They had to interview a number of neighbors about garbage. “What do you think about trash in our neighborhood? Why do we have so much waste here? What do you propose we do to eliminate litter at Lixeira?”

kamba-dyami-1Paul, who was born in Lixeira, had never asked himself these questions. On the other hand, he thought this was a real challenge. He was concerned thinking that he wouldn’t be able to complete the project because of the problems he had with his parents and siblings. They didn´t pay attention to him because they thought work was more important than studying. However, it was now mandatory for children to attend school in the country. When Paul´s parents and siblings were children, studying wasn´t obligatory.

The stranger in Paul’s classroom was a big, serious and strict man. He started to look around to pick a student to do the project. Paul hid behind his fellow students because he didn’t want to be chosen as he was nervous. The stranger was looking for an interesting student; he looked at Paul and chose him. Paul thought: “Oh no, what I am going to do? This job is impossible for me and I have only one week to complete it.”

But Paul learned to use Kamba Dyami faster than he thought. During the first and the second day, he wasn’t able to do any interviews because he had to work with his family. On the third day, his brothers took the computer and they didn’t want to give it back to him. Paul already knew a lot about the Kamba Dyami laptop because he had already explored all the activities it had. However, he wasn’t able to do any interviews until the fourth day.

The neighbors saw him walking around the neighborhood with the computer. They asked his parents what was going on, but Paul’s parents answered that what he was doing really didn´t matter. On the other hand, people saw Paul’s computer ability and they encouraged him to become a master of this technology and told him that nobody in the neighborhood could use a computer as well as him.

On the last day, he was able to complete many interviews around the neighborhood and accomplished his task. This was a big challenge for Paul.

Through this activity, Paul not only learned to use the computer, he also learned a lot about life. He learned about the people who were living in his neighborhood. He acquired new skills and learned that he can change his own future through education.kamba-dyami-3

by mariana at October 12, 2016 03:54 PM


OLPC-SF Community Summit 2016

This year's Summit will be held Nov 4-6 at the San Francisco State University Library (LIB 121), 1600 Holloway Avenue at 19th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94132

As you know, the OLPC San Francisco Summit is a community event that brings together educators, technologists, enthusiasts, and volunteers.  We share stories, exchange ideas, solve problems, and foster collaboration around the original mission of One Laptop per Child to empower communities through education and learning worldwide.
The theme for this year's Summit is "OLPC: New beginnings." Workshop topics will include new laptop hardware, offline content, Sugarizer/platform-free solutions, forward-looking education curricula.  Sessions will feature deployments from different parts of the world, with discussion of similarities and differences. It's not too late to propose a session or workshop.
We look forward your presence for lively discussions and vigorous networking at the Summit!

by adborden at October 12, 2016 06:05 AM

One Laptop per Child

Fundacion Gente Unida and Youth for Peace #Colombia

Fundación Gente Unida (The Foundation for United People- the “Foundation”) is a non-governmental organization created to provide education, training, and protection of children and young people in vulnerable situations. The organization works to meet their basic and educational needs with available resources, in an effort to improve their quality of life.

fundacion-gente-unida-1In 1992, Father Jorge Villalobos Ortega, a priest from Mexico, arrived in Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia.

He saw beyond the beauty of the mountains to the shantytowns surrounding the Valley of Aburra. He spent time with a group of young people and participated in conferences on human values, and he asked them: “Why are you indifferent to the poverty and violence in Medellin?” The group began a profound and painful experience as they visited families living in the impoverished Moravia neighborhood. The group discussed the needs of these families and they shared their hopes and dreams with the young group.

fundacion-gente-unida-9 In 1993, Father Villalobos Ortega started an educational program involving 33 children from this community. The goal was not only to meet the children’s immediate needs but also to teach them so they could become the builders of their own futures.

fundacion-gente-unida-2 The social work of the Foundation is the concrete expression of its commitment to solidarity that every human should have for one another. The Foundation is actively working to build a more just society based on love, as the Hindu proverb states: “It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.”gente-unida-12

The Foundation provides protection and education to the most vulnerable people living in the Medellin metropolitan area. There are currently five educational centers located in the most disadvantaged areas of the city: Moravia, Santo Domingo (La Esperanza), Manrique (La Honda), Belen (Villa Café) and Robledo (Pajarito). The educational centers feed and educate 3,200 children, youth, and adults.

Educational programs include early childhood, preschool, primary, secondary and adult education courses. More than 170 children and youth live in the Mary Bohio Home, a shelter for children who have suffered from domestic violence, abuse, and/or neglect. The Foundation provides a home, care, and education for these children who range from 3 months of age through college age students.

In 2009, the Foundation launched the PERLAS project, a program focused on using a laptop for learning. More than 2,000 OLPC Laptops were incorporated into the classroom in an effort to make learning more fun and enriching for participating children. Children were given an opportunity to use a technological tool that would soon become their best companion in their academic training.

Children had the opportunity to participate in the world of technology, the world that was reserved only for those with sufficient financial resources, despite the pervasiveness of technology in our daily lives.

In 2010, additional 374 OLPC Laptops were acquired in order to include 1st through 5th graders in the educational program. Each OLPC Laptop given became an immediate ally of the child. Children now had a friendly team of support as they entered the world of technology, a world that seemed distant and unattainable  before.

Thanks to the OLPC Laptop, homework became a more pleasant task and students had the opportunity to chat, share activities and play without having to be physically close to one another. This was certainly a surprise for the students!

The Foundation created a unique security system for the OLPC Laptop. When a machine is lost, the computer turns off and is unusable. The technical teams also created activation keys for the machines according to the school calendar. All coding was generated on the Foundation’s servers.

At present, there are 1399 OLPC Laptops in use in the Foundation’s educational centers, as follows:

 Moravia Headquarters: 230 OLPC Laptops version 4.0

 Sagrada Familia: 206 OLPC Laptops version 4.0

 La Esperanza: 384 OLPC Laptops versions 1.75 and 4.0

 Luz de Oriente: 579 OLPC Laptops version 4.0

The OLPC educational program and use of the OLPC Laptops are being supported by the Marina Orth Foundation during 2016. The Foundation is grateful for this collaboration!

fundacion-gente-unida-6 fundacion-gente-unida-7 fundacion-gente-unida-8fundacion-gente-unida-10fundacion-gente-unida-3 fundacion-gente-unida-4 fundacion-gente-unida-5

by mariana at October 12, 2016 05:46 AM

October 03, 2016

OLE Nepal

Volunteer Spotlight: Prajna Ho

Namaste! This is Prajna, from Hong Kong. I would like to thank OLE Nepal for giving me the chance to assist in the quality education in digital learning advocacy efforts. After having a week service trip in Nepal last year, the profound experience had triggered my motives and ideas to support the development of children’s education in the region, therefore, I designed another visit to Nepal after my graduation and before taking any full-time work,…

by admin at October 03, 2016 06:13 AM

Ghana Together

Way to go Emmanuella and George--Western Heritage Home Scholar Graduates!!

Graduating Junior High School when your home town is Axim, Ghana is no small accomplishment!
Just this month, Emmanuella graduated from the School for the Deaf and Blind in Cape Coast and George graduated from Manye Academy in Axim.

And they not only graduated, but they found out just yesterday they did so well on their final “BECE” exam that they qualify for Senior High School! No mean feat in Ghana, where the slots for Senior High are limited. A high level of scholastic achievement and strong test scores are required to qualify.

New JHS graduates Emmanuella and George, Sept 29, 2016

Queen Mother Nana Adjow Sika II has taken special interest in all the Western Heritage Home scholars, and especially in Emmanuella.

She has supported Emmanuella emotionally, and has encouraged her at every step.
Nana is a founding member of the Western Heritage Board and continues to serve.
Queen Mother Nana Adjow Sika II congratulating her protégé (Sept 2016)

In her early childhood, Emmanuella was given the opportunity to live at the Western Heritage Children's Home. She needed special care due to her early onset of Stargardt Disease, a juvenile form of macular degeneration. At this point she is legally blind.

George also spent his early years at the Western Heritage Children's Home, due to difficult home circumstances.

Emmanuella and George both attended Manye Academy in Axim early on. George continued there, but about five years ago, Emmanuella had to be transferred to the Cape Coast School for the Deaf and Blind.

Emmanuella and George, both Western Heritage Home Scholars, and also age-mates and school-mates. George is showing her how to use the magnifier we brought from the US so she could work with an XO children's computer.

George in 2007

Saturday chores at the Western Heritage Home

George the scholar and also a guy who loves sports!

When Western Heritage Home phased out their residential program, George moved into the Manye Academy Dormitory.

We have provided for his tuition, room, board, and personal supplies during his entire school years and will continue to do so.

Meanwhile, Emmanuella transferred to the Cape Coast School for the Deaf and Blind. The school supports her tuition, room and board, but we help out with clothing, personal supplies, traveling back and forth to Axim during vacations, etc.

Emmanuella and Maryanne Ward at the Cape Coast School for the Deaf and Blind
Emmanuella is well-known in Axim for her musical talents, especially singing! She sings at special services in her church and at community events.
At her school in Cape Coast, she sang the Ghanaian National Anthem during the March 6 Independence Day celebrations (with a microphone she said!). And she told us that since the blind students can hear her sing, they dance with her; the deaf students can see the blind students dance and join in. This celebration was actually featured on Ghana TV!
Emmanuella singing at the dedication of the Chief's donation of a television to the Community Center. Western Heritage Home's James Kainyiah is offering a little support!
His motto is "Making leaders of the least!" and so he has.

Emmnanuella managed in August to take her final exams by reading some of the test at very close range, especially the math, and also by having some of the test read to her and she could answer orally. She can read Braille.
So what's next for these two scholars?

George’s dream is to attend a vocational high school and learn welding.

Emmanuella's dream is to return to her Cape Coast School and earn her SHS high school degree.

We're going to love helping them do just that!!

For prior News Updates, http://ghanatogether.blogspot.com/
Contact us: info@ghanatogether.org
We are a 501c3, EIN: 26-2182965
808 Addison Place, Mount Vernon, WA

by Ghana Together (noreply@blogger.com) at October 03, 2016 12:17 AM

October 02, 2016

OLE Nepal

Bringing Raspberry Pi to classrooms

There is so much going on in technology these days. Technology has brought unprecedented changes in our daily life, retooling the way we communicate, the way we shop, the way we make our living and more. The things that were considered as science-fiction a few years ago, is now a real thing. But, compare the classrooms back in the 90s and now, do you see any change? For the major part, it’s more or less…

by Bikram Dhoju at October 02, 2016 05:40 PM

September 28, 2016

OLE Nepal

OLE Nepal’s venture into open sourcing E-Paath(2-6)

OLE Nepal’s pursuit of digitizing educational material up to grade 10 recently reached a major milestone as we completed the development of content for grade-8. Although this is quite the achievement, computer technology is such an ever evolving field that the content developed for grade 2 to grade 6-using flash- have become technologically outdated. Consequently OLE Nepal in our endeavor of improving education through computer science decided to make our code base for grade 7-8,…

by Ashish Gurung at September 28, 2016 09:23 AM

September 23, 2016

One Laptop per Child

Mokshith Voodarla, a high school student with a cause @OLPC

mokshith-1Mokshith Voodarla is a high school student who made a generous donation to OLPC.

Read his thoughts about the impact of technology in his own life and in the world:


From a young age, I’ve been amazed by the way technology helps us in our daily lives. It was mind-boggling to me when I saw subtle things like turning on a TV with a remote happen. This led me to the realization that I wanted to build technology that made people’s lives easier. I’ve always liked to see something happen after writing a program. This started off with LEGO Mindstorms but has come all the way to building Android Apps that automatically take notes for you when taking a picture of a textbook. 
I wanted to benefit as many people as I could with the knowledge I had so I decided to teach kids how to build Android apps. While doing this, I wanted to maximize the benefit of this work, and that’s when I remembered One Laptop Per Child. I’ve always taken for granted the resources I had to do things and I wanted as many people as possible to receive the resources and opportunities to do the same. I realized that by donating to OLPC, my work would help benefit a lot of people. I chose to do just that. 

Working with the kids was great. We started off from them not knowing anything at all to them being able to build a whole calculator all by themselves. We did this over the course of nine weeks. I was happy that I was able to spread that feeling of amazement on many people’s faces when they saw that what they programmed. That kind of feeling is what I live for and I really felt it when I saw those kids experience just that. The feeling itself is indescribable but it’s just amazing. 
Teaching these students and then being able to donate to OLPC was a very worthwhile experience for me and I would recommend if anyone else can, they should make a donation as well. OLPC does great things in developing countries and is a real reason why the world is accelerating faster and faster all the time. All reasons support helping the OLPC cause.

by mariana at September 23, 2016 01:20 PM

September 22, 2016

One Laptop per Child

How Ometepe Became Latin America’s First Digital Island

Originaly posted BY ON

By Leah Shadle on behalf of One Laptop Per Child

In the heart of Nicaragua lies the largest lake in Central America, Lake Nicaragua. Millions of years ago, a volcanic eruption formed a curious island in this freshwater lake composed of two volcanoes — Concepcion and Maderas — the former of which is still active. Concepcion has an altitude of 1,610 meters, which makes Ometepe the world’s highest island on a lake. Volcanic ash has created an extremely fertile island and the volcanoes are visible everywhere on the island. Ometepe is truly a paradise, with its tropical, lush and magical air and soil.

In addition to the natural brilliance of the island and its volcanoes, Ometepe recently became the first digital island in the Americas. To put that in numbers, 100% of its 5,000 elementary school children and all teachers received a laptop connected to high-speed Internet, as part of the One Laptop Per Child educational initiative. Participating students and teachers receive OLPC laptops and the training and support needed to truly realize the potential of these machines

Continue reading HERE.

by mariana at September 22, 2016 05:02 PM

September 13, 2016

One Laptop per Child

Learning from Seymour Papert – #BacktoLearning

Far beyond the idea of giving computers to children with “an educational purpose”, like if education meant just providing content to be consumed, the origins of the learning philosophy of OLPC has been to provide kids with computers so that they can compute.


Seymour Papert believed, supported by decades of research, that by computing (coding, programming), the learner could be empowered to understand, create and think about their own learning, especially at early childhoold.

This panel from the Spring 2014 Member Event at the MIT Media Lab will explore more in detail the learning vision of Papert. Enjoy!

Panelists: Mitch Resnick, Marvin Minsky, Alan Kay, and Nicholas Negroponte.

by mariana at September 13, 2016 07:26 PM

September 12, 2016

ICT4D Views from the Field

SolarSPELL featured by ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering

Arizona State University’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering ran a feature story on SolarSPELL! What a great welcome-launch for SPELL at ASU. Looking forward to great things happening at ASU.

by ljhosman at September 12, 2016 01:11 AM

September 11, 2016

Tabitha Roder

Moodle Moot NZ 2016

I am excited to write about the upcoming Moodle Moot NZX being hosted by HRDNZ and Northtec.

Join us for Moodle Moot NZX 5th-7th October in the ‘Winterless North”

It’s a special year, as HRDNZ celebrate 10 years of being a Moodle Partner (wow!) and we would love you to join us for the best Moodle Moot ever !

New Zealand Moodle Moots are regarded as one of the best in the world. They are always well organised with excellent speakers and workshops, but what sets them apart from other conferences is the friendly atmosphere and support, the feeling of belonging to a community, and high level of participation and sharing by attendees.

This year the Moodle Moot is a celebration of HRDNZ being a Moodle Partner for ten years. To recognise this milestone, everyone attending the event this year will also be entitled to 10% off any of the HRDNZ MoodleBites courses – yay!

This year the Moodle Moot is structured to begin with a community day, followed by two workshop days.

The first community conference day is a great opportunity to meet people and get yourself focused and energised ready for the workshops. Keynote speakers are Scott Hunley talking about The Internet of Things, Justin Hunt (creator of PoodLL) speaking on the Life of a Moodle Developer, and Hazel Owen on Creating meaningful assessment in Moodle. Stuart Mealor will reflect on Moodle over the last ten years, and we’ll also hear from some other great voices across New Zealand.

There will be four workshop streams: teaching, administration, management and developers. This is ensuring there is “something for everyone”. I am contributing a couple of workshops this year so hope to see and hear some of you there. You can switch between streams, and you’ll find me in the teacher and management streams.


So a big thank you in advance to NorthTec for hosting venue and all that goes along with that role, and thanks to the HRDNZ team. Do take the opportunity to say a big thank you to our hosts and make some new friends over the three days. I find Moodle friends become friends for life!

Register here.

by tabithaparker at September 11, 2016 09:56 PM

August 30, 2016

Juan Chacon Free Software & Education | El Salvador

My Annual Love Letter to SchoolTool

It is the end of August, and time once again for me to setup my SchoolTool instance for the coming school year. Each year for the last several years, I have sent an email to the SchoolTool mailing list expressing both my joy and my deep felt gratitude at the pleasure I experienced setting up my very own student information system (SIS).  Sadly, we may have come to the end of an era, and SchoolTool's days may be numbered, so I felt it more appropriate this year to express my gratitude here in my blog.

The reason I feel compelled to write a "love letter" to the SchoolTool developers each year is that they have made the very complex process of setting up an SIS smooth and painless, both by the design of the software itself, and by the wonderful SchoolTool Book written by English teacher and former project manager, Tom Hoffman.  It provides a model of what technical documentation should be, and the influence that the documentation process and the user interface design process had on each other is apparent. With nothing more than the book to guide me, I can create a school year, populate it with courses, sections, terms, time tables, instructors, students, and skills. In just a few minutes I am ready to start the new school year. The ease with which everything works is a total thrill!

I teach dual-enrolled high school / community college classes in a career and technical school in Arlington, Virginia. The SIS provided by Arlington Public Schools is not setup to properly handle the odd configurations of overlapping high school and college classes that I need to make my CS / IT program work.  SchoolTool provides me with a customizable SIS that meets my needs, while providing a host of added benefits to my students.  The CanDo Skills Tracking system lets students see their progress on the explicit skills they are expected to acquire in my classes. The SchoolTool Quiz component enables me to create custom tests and quizzes automatically linked to the skills tracking system.

SchoolTool will forever epitomize what free software means to me and why I've dedicated much of my energy over the past 20+ years fighting for software freedom. It was created in an open process with input throughout by the real users of the system.  I became one of those users back in the Summer of 2005, when I met Tom Hoffman at Pycon and began the collaboration that continues to this day. Both the CanDo and Quiz components were added at the initiative of a small group of us in Virginia, and students of mine contributed directly to the development of both components. There is still no other software, either free or proprietary, that does what SchoolTool does.

The development of SchoolTool was driven by the desire to provide use value and to create a tool to help change the world, specifically by positively impacting education in Africa and the developing world. Thanks to the sponsorship of Mark Shuttleworth, it was freed from the imperative of commodification for an extended period of time. It never could have developed the innovations it has otherwise.

Some big mistakes where certainly made along the way to SchoolTool's development, the biggest of which is probably building SchoolTool on a dead end web application framework, Zope 3, which has now isolated SchoolTool from the larger free software development community. That mistake may cause SchoolTool to follow its framework into abandonment. You never can tell with free software projects, however, since they can be taken up by anyone at any time who finds them useful.  Perhaps SchoolTool will find new life in some unexpected way, or perhaps some of its innovations will find their way into another free software SIS.

I am just happy that it will be available for at least the next several years on Ubuntu servers.  I plan to keep using it for as long as I can, since it is a tremendously effective resource to help my students monitor their learning, and since I get to experience the joy and excitement each year of setting it up!

by jelkner (noreply@blogger.com) at August 30, 2016 04:38 PM

August 17, 2016

Juan Chacon Free Software & Education | El Salvador

Setting Up a RHCSA Practice Laptop - Part 1

In order to practice for the RHCSA at home, I took an old Dell Latitude E6500 with 4GiB of RAM and purchased a 500GiB hard drive on which I could install CentOS 7 with a server GUI as the base operating system and them multiple virtual machines using KVM with which to experiment and learn.

My package selection for the install was a Server GUI installation. I partitioned the hard drive with 1 GiB of swap, 500 MiB on a standard partition for the /boot, and 30 GiB for the root partition.

I also created a 60 GiB partition for /home, and then allocated everything that remained (375.27 GiB) to /var.  The reason for giving some much space to /var is that the default KVM / qemu setup on CentOS 7 places virtual hard drive images in /var/lib/libvirt/images, so I wanted plenty of space available for multiple images.

After the install finished I wanted to see what the partitions looked like, so I ran
$ sudo yum install system-storage-manager
and then
$ sudo ssm list
which revealed the following:

Device Free Used Total Pool Mount point
/dev/sda 465.76 GB PARTITIONED
/dev/sda1 500.00 MB /boot
/dev/sda2 0.00 KB 465.27 GB 465.27 GB centos
Pool Type Devices Free Used Total
centos lvm 1 0.00 KB 465.27 GB 465.27 GB
Volume Pool Vol size FS FS size Free Type Mount point
/dev/centos/swap centos 1.00 GB linear
/dev/centos/root centos 30.00 GB xfs 29.99 GB 26.73 GB linear /
/dev/centos/home centos 60.00 GB ext4 60.00 GB 55.88 GB linear /home
/dev/centos/var centos 374.27 GB ext4 374.27 GB 349.02 GB linear /var
/dev/sda1 500.00 MB xfs 493.73 MB 293.59 MB part /boot

To be continued in Fall of 2016..


by jelkner (noreply@blogger.com) at August 17, 2016 07:03 PM

August 12, 2016

Ghana Together

1st Term 2016-2017 Scholarhips

Yes, we know. The chart below is barely readable…but we wanted to show it to you anyway. It shows the 1st term, 2016-2017 school year, scholarship costs for 69 Axim students, sponsored by Ghana Together.

In most cases, these costs are shared with the extended families, as with the CTK Academy students where parents supply uniforms, underwear, notebooks, shoes...and we pay tuition...for students living in this remote area, where the only reasonably available school is a private school.
We also list WHH staff salaries for three months and Internet-In-A-Box internet support, so the North American team can troubleshoot this incredible resource at Axim Girls High School and the Axim Public Library, which most Axim children frequent. 

Note that "CDVTI" stands for Community Development Vocational Technical Institute, a government vocational training school. Note that secondary schools in Ghana are NOT tuition-free at this point.

Payee Beneficiary Item CEDIS USD (3.9)
Axim Girls Sr High  Ernestina tuition, textbooks, math tutorial (Term One) 769 $197
Manye Academy Ben, Gladys, Johnson  Tuition, boarding, fees, notebooks, textbooks, uniforms, sandals… 2942 $754
Various vendors 6 WHH Scholars Personal supplies: health/hygiene, snacks, pocket money, etc. 1560 $400
CDVTI Kingsley Tuition, room, board 380 $97
CDVTI 10 women, 2 men Tuition, room, board 2860 $733
Nsein SHS Peter Extra Classes, student council, sci club, debate/drama, practicals 970 $249
Midwifery/Nursing School Dorothy Nursing-midwifery tuition, room, board, texts, etc. (one semester) 2175 $558
Christ the King Academy 50 primary students tuition, 1st term 5850 $1,500
WHH Staff Arloo, and 2 watchmen salaries July-Sept (three month) 1500 $385
Azim Girls SHS Computer lab support Cellphone subscription for internet-in-a-box support 400 $103
TOTAL 19406 $4,976

Maybe you can’t quite make out the small print, but the bottom line is almost exactly $5,000 for most of the school costs for 69 students, averaging about $73 each. And some of those costs are "once/year" only, like uniforms, sandals, and textbooks.
Some of you have asked how we get such accurate, detailed info from our friends in Axim, esp. when it comes to school costs.

Well, we won’t burden you (J) with the incredibly detailed 16 sheets of statements/invoices that our guy in Axim, Evans Arloo, collected from the schools and forwarded to us.

Every detail is in these statements!
Did you know, for example, that Dorothy’s “obstetrics textbook” for her 2nd year will cost exactly 30 Ghana cedis? That’s about $8.00. Or that Peter will pay 10 cedis (about $2.50) for his Science Club dues…the Club of which he, as an outstanding student, is the “Executive.” Or that Kingsley will pay 270 cedis (about $70) for food for Sept-Dec (quite a bargain for 16-year old guy!)? Or that Ernestina’s “bed user fee” will be 2 cedis(about 50 US cents) for her 1st term, along with 399 cedis ($102) for her tuition?

The schools’ administrative offices prepare these  statements and give them to parents, or in our case, scholarship sponsor. The sheets are stamped and signed with the name of the school and the accountant/preparer.

And, I'm sure you are DYING to know...how exactly does Arloo get these 16 typed or handwritten sheets to us 10,000 or so miles away?
Why, of course, by the magic of “Camscanner”, the cellphone app. With it, he photographs the statements and saves them as PDF files. He then forwards them using “Whatsapp”, another nice little free tool, using the nice signals pouring out from the cell tower in Axim Town. And we use Whatsapp too, to "receive" the files, and also for follow-up communication. Our Ghanaian friends are total whizzes when it comes to cellphone use, seriously! They've taught us all we know!!
So, friends, these are children we’ve been supporting for some years. Knowing the needs of local families well, Queen Mom Nana Adjow Sika II and James Kainyiah have chosen these students, along with input from Headmaster David and Director Seidu, and have overseen their progress. Evans Arloo helps the scholars with their day-to-day needs and challenges.

And yes, we would appreciate your financial help in launching the new school year, 1st term, for these 69 youngsters, beginning mid-September. Thank you.

Ghana Together
808 Addison Place
Mount Vernon, WA 98273
We are a 501c3, Fed ID 26-2182965

by Ghana Together (noreply@blogger.com) at August 12, 2016 05:28 AM

August 09, 2016

Hands of Charity XO Project | Kenya

Hands of Charity Community Change Makers


The camp started on a Saturday which consisted of learners and teachers joined and showed a lot of interest towards the camp and did group work learning on the projects they intend to deal with for finding a long term solution in different fields and out of it they set up plans in different categories as shown below.

o -Jiggers

o -Wildlife

o -Trash

o -HIV/AIDs programs


Kids went for Mapping in Households infested with Jiggers

They set up activities that which they did in campaign for jigger free.

They came up with specific objectives on the case study and arranged questionnaires they will for the entire period of the project.


-General hygiene

-Environmental management in control of Jiggers

-Child involvement in Jigger control.


Children free from Jigger infestation and attend classes by August 2016.


To educate the household members infested with jiggers using testimonies from children who were infested and now free from the jiggers.

Activities for the case study;

During weekends, pupils to reach out jigger infested families to give health education as child empowerment on hygiene and good environmental management.

Evaluation for the progress last Saturday of every month.

Organizing health action days together with health workers and community members to talk about the problem as a sign of togetherness and child involvement.


During mapping when kids saw their fellow children infested with jiggers they showed concern by asking questions such as;

What causes jiggers?

What does it feed from human body?

How does it procreate and its lifecycle?

Who is at risk to jiggers and

How does it spread from one person to the other?

The above questions were in children themselves after mapping activities. During mapping it was found that mostly children from poor families who stay under unconducive environment such poor housing, beddings, hygiene and ignorance/illiteracy contributes to jigger infestation.

Most of kids infested by jiggers are of age group 3 -13 years in areas identified.

Very few in age group of between 14 -18 years and between age group of between 50 – 65 are infested just because the lack information about precaution concerning general hygiene.

Out of this observations, learners came up with the above proposal for the coming six months implementation.


Lack of enough cloves

Pull and push between children to see how the infested person looks like.

High exceptions of free drugs by community members.

Fear of jigger infested clients to be inspected and given a child driven first aid.


Learners were able to understand the effects of jiggers to human health.

Learners were able to identify areas with high jigger problem

They used the camp to give priority to problems according to the situation.


A theme setup for discussion was (who had ever had somebody staying positively (people living with HIV/AIDs)


Kids/ Learners to come up with experience stories about HIV clients.


-Learners to know that we have people living positively.

-For them to identify what problems that can make them be at risk to HIV/AIDs.

-Get possible ways of HIV/prevention


-Through poetry- poems were recited by camp participants with a theme how shall be save from it as a young generation.

-Written story- learners wrote stories on XO laptops expressing what they understand about HIV compared to 20th century.

-Using internet to research- by use of BRCK and Safaricom routers to access information about HIV which included most affected countries, which co-horts in terms of age.

-Visiting CCCs in our Kenyan health facilities to discuss the case with service providers and HIV clients


Once in a month by visiting a nearby health facility to find out the infection rate.


To ensure that kids/ Learners understand that we have people staying positively on village level and need their support and encouragement of stigma free environment.


Have a reduced stigma and proper HIV advocacy within local villages.


Pupils were much interested to use internet in finding information about the case study.

It was noted some children are affected with HIV at their homes.


-Background of endangered species

Centre of discussion was about elephant, rhino, and lion.

Major issues were how those animals feed, move and stay.

-How important are they to the country economy

They discussed how it earns foreign exchange to the country and nature.

-What makes them endangered?

Key issues were why are they mostly hunted by poachers, what for, what facts are behind the killings and how are they marketed and for what reason.

-Who targets them and for what reasons.

Which countries mostly demands their products and on what purposes.


-To inform the world on the reasons why we should conserve our wildlife.


-Creating room for the children of the world to have a say and educate others about wildlife in the county.

-To have reduced myths and misconception over endangered species e.g. Rhinoceros species

-To promote online learning with an aim of minimizing wildlife slaughter worldwide.

-Create a room for research and information sharing.


Learners use write sugar lab to write stories about what they feel should be done to endangered species in the safety.

Paint sugar lab to draw pictures of endangered wildlife species

They used scratch sugar to make conversational projects concerning the feeling of the wildlife endangered species.


It was noted that most of students have information about the happenings to our wildlife but they had been never be given a chance to express their feelings.

Camp participants showed a lot interest in wildlife safety discussions.


Trash was among our intended camp activity but due to time limitation it was left out.


Facilitation to be increased for more days of any planned science camp in future.

Camps to be facilitated quarterly.

Smallsolutionsbigideas to look for a way of funding jigger project to enable participants to have enough logistics.

Need of Internet services provision to enhance online learning.

JiggersFeetFullViewSSBI to facilitate health service providers and teacher workshop with an aim of reducing jiggers’ cases.

by smallsolutionsbigideas at August 09, 2016 03:37 PM

August 05, 2016

Ghana Together

Congratulations to Charlotte & Philomena, Senior High School Graduates!

Good friends and classmates Philomena (left) and Charlotte at their Nsein Senior High School in March 2016, ready to start their last term before graduation

We’re really proud! Charlotte Armah and Philomena Mensah graduated from Nsein Senior High School in Axim, Ghana this June!

For this outstanding achievement, Philo and Charlotte each received Leif Pederson Graduation Awards of $300—enough to launch them into their adult lives.
(Note: Ghana Together presents this award to our Western Heritage Scholars upon graduation from senior high school, in memory of founding Board member and good friend, Leif Pederson.)

We've known (and supported) Charlotte and Philo for about ten years now!

Charlotte Armah, 2007

Philomena Mensah, 2007

The girls used some of their Award funds to buy clothing that is not a school uniform(!), and set themselves up to sell earrings, bathroom slippers, gari (cassava), sugar…and some other items in “the Axim market.” This is a temporary move to support themselves as they prepare for the next step. They reported just this morning that their sales are going well.
They are in the process of applying for jobs teaching primary level students. In Ghana, if one graduates senior high with a good record, it’s pretty common that you will be called upon to teach the youngest primary students.

Photo from last week, as they launch their business in the  market in Axim. One of the wonderful things for girls who are no longer students is that they now can grow and style their hair! Fun!!

Achieving a senior high graduate level is no small accomplishment for these two young women. They spent their early primary and junior high school years living at the Western Heritage Children’s Home due to very difficult family circumstances. Ghana Together, in conjunction with Western Heritage Home, supported them entirely in those years.
At the Children’s Home they were helped greatly by Barbara Davis who, as the “senior sister”, as the children called her, ensured their school attendance at Manye Academy every day, saw to their homework, made sure their uniforms were clean and pressed, managed meals, and made sure they got enough sleep every night. Thank you, Barbara!

Barbara Davis, their "senior sister". Thank you, Barbara!!

Senior high school is not tuition-free in Ghana. Thanks to their academic excellence in primary and junior high, their obvious financial need, and to the efforts of their Paramount Chief Awulae Attibrukusu III, they were each awarded Ghana National Petroleum Corporation senior high school scholarships covering their tuition and boarding at Nsein Senior High School. We of Ghana Together provided funds for the “supplies”---uniforms, textbooks, lab materials, photocopies, health/hygiene supplies, snack money, etc.
You may wonder why graduation from senior high school is such a big deal!

We did a little research. According to the Ghana Statistical Service’s 2010 Census data for the Nzema East Municipality, of 8375 females 3 years and older who had attended any school at any level in the past, only 550, or 6.4% of had attended senior high school. And of the entire female population, only 32.5% had ever attended any school at any level. Of the female population over 11 years of age, 46% were classified as literate in 2010, meaning they could read and write a simple sentence in some language, maybe not learned in school, but somehow picked up.
That’s why this is such an achievement! With the establishment of the new Axim Girls Senior High School, which had 191 students enrolled at end of March, 2016, when we last visited, this picture is changing!
Philo and Charlotte are the 3rd and 4thWestern Heritage Home Scholars to graduate Senior High, having been preceded by Gifty Essien and Dorothy Armoo. They are indebted to James Kainyiah, founder and chair of Western Heritage Home (our associate organization), who established this local Axim-based NGO to support children exactly like these four.

And they are indebted to YOU, dear friends, who have supported these two beautiful Western Heritage Home Scholars for 10 years, and so many other children (73 at present, in one way or another)! Thank you.

For prior News Updates, see http://ghanatogether.blogspot.com
Contact us at: info@ghanatogether.org

by Ghana Together (noreply@blogger.com) at August 05, 2016 02:24 AM

July 28, 2016

ICT4D Views from the Field

Micronesia Peace Corps SolarSPELL Program extends into Second Year with Training of Incoming Class of Volunteers!


The US Peace Corps in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) hosted the SolarSPELL team for a second year as the team carried out a workshop with this year’s incoming class of Peace Corps volunteers. The training took place in Madolenihmw, Pohnpei in July, 2016.

P1190830 P1190831 P1190824 P1190829

Laura Hosman and Bruce Baikie led the training, which included an overview of the SPELL library’s hardware, website/educational content, and the tablet that the team included for each Peace Corps volunteer to be able to access the library’s content once in the field.

IMG_20160722_131144162 P1190809

The training also benefited from a (surprise!) special guest talk by one of last year’s cohort of volunteers, Dana, who spoke to this year’s cohort about some of the potential and unexpected challenges they might face in using the SPELL libraries at their schools, when the workshop transitioned to the discussion of teaching strategies, potential in-field challenges, and how to address them. Thank you, Dana, for sharing your insights and contributing to the training!


The SPELL team is especially grateful to the Peace Corps staff in FSM, particularly including to Rodney Salas, who was an early champion of the SPELL project and its implementation with the Peace Corps volunteers FSM. Not only was FSM the first country to receive SolarSPELLs, it is also the first to renew the partnership and invite the SPELL team back for a second year. We’re very grateful for the opportunity and continued cooperation!


The Peace Corps volunteers in FSM, and indeed across the Pacific Islands, commit to two years of volunteer service, and are stationed at schools. Most of these schools will not have reliable electricity/power or Internet connectivity, so these libraries are designed to provide relevant educational content in these challenging environmental conditions. The Peace Corps volunteers’ responsibilities include teaching English, using technology where possible, and working together with the community and the school to help improve the education available at the schools where they are serving.

P1190821 IMG_20160722_165918095_HDR

The Solar SPELL library was designed to help meet the needs of the Peace Corps volunteers, vis-à-vis enabling and improving education, in the field. It includes open access content, much of which is localized for the Federated States of Micronesia and for the Pacific Islands. The offline library’s content can also be found in on-line version here: http://pacificschoolserver.org

P1190826 IMG_20160722_161853880

The library’s hardware is designed to be as simple to use as possible, with no moving parts in order to avoid overheating. The solar panel and plastic case are waterproof, providing an extra level of protection against the salt air and humidity that is ever-present in the Islands.

IMG_20160722_132459432_HDR IMG_20160722_161737234_HDR IMG_20160722_134450289_HDR IMG_20160722_133210870

Thank you, Peace Corps FSM for a second year of collaboration and cooperation with SPELL!


by ljhosman at July 28, 2016 08:09 PM

July 26, 2016

Technology for Ghana

Internet-in-a-box Instruction guide

It's hard to believe that over a year has passed since my trip to Ghana (and since my last blog update)! First of all, I am continuously amazed when I check back on this blog and see the number of people who continue to read it, even a year after my most recent post. Thank you to everyone who has followed me on this journey - your support means the world.

How do I begin to recap the past year? I knew that my work with IIAB didn't end with my return to the US, but at first I was unsure how best to proceed. With the guidance of Mrs. Murakami, I realized that the best way for me to contribute to the cause of Unleash Kids and so many others who carry out similar work was to draw from my unique experiences and knowledge. Thus, I began my new project: to make a guide for others who are interested in installing the IIAB technology in developing countries based on my own personal experience. The people who design the software itself have much more technical knowledge than I ever will, so I instead focused on the preparation and teaching tips (and everything in between) that would make it easier for other average people like me to embark on their own similar missions. After a year of compiling information and putting what I learned into writing, I am happy to post the finished product. Here is my comprehensive guide for installing Internet-in-a-Box!

July 26, 2016 06:06 PM

July 21, 2016

Project Rive: Reaching Students in Haiti

Internet out of the Box

The last time I was here, in Matènwa, the Internet was so slow it was almost more frustrating to use it than to pretend that it didn’t exist. The cell phone towers were installed, but the cell phone company didn’t … Continue reading

by Sora at July 21, 2016 12:22 PM

July 12, 2016

One Laptop per Child

OLPC Corner Summer Letter

It is hot season in Rwanda, and international schools are on summer holidays. Governmental schools will soon be on summer break as well.

Many parents are happy but also worried about what their kids will do at home all day. They do not want their children to forget what they have been learning during the school year.

The OLPC corner, located in the kid zone at the in Kigali Public Library, hosts children from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM. Every child is welcome and it is free of charge.

Children have the opportunity to read, write stories, and play educational games, including typing Turtle, memorize, and maze. Children can also work with simple programming languages like scratch. All of those activities are available in XO Laptop.

Instead of staying at home alone, children can come to the Kigali Library to take advantage of the computer. Any kid is welcome to come.

Thanks to the guidance of Celestine NGARAMBE, OLPC facilitator, they learn, they create, they share, and they explore.

Kids are having fun through learning. We believe that holidays are not meant to be spent sleeping and watching movies; rather, holidays here mean to change the situation you’ve been living in to experience another opportunity.

olpc-corner-3 captura-de-pantalla-2016-10-12-a-las-11-09-07 captura-de-pantalla-2016-10-12-a-las-11-08-53 captura-de-pantalla-2016-10-12-a-las-11-08-38 captura-de-pantalla-2016-10-12-a-las-11-08-31

by mariana at July 12, 2016 04:01 PM

July 01, 2016

Hands of Charity XO Project | Kenya

Connecting Kids Wildlife Studies – Latest Report from Bonnie



Wildlife Protection : One Planet Education Network brings  Bungoma Kenya SSBI Hands of Charity partners with Haiti, and US students together. 


Click to support this work: Support These Kenya Kids

SKYPE with Haiti  and US students started well whereby our learners were very happy about having a distance learning event in their schools. We started with Namwesi primary school on Friday where teachers went to prepare learners on what the skype will be about. and prepare distance learning event whereby as Bungoma team were to talk about wildlife especially Rhino and Elephants with learners from different schools of NYC, Haiti, North Carolina and representave from AWF and Marinelife representative talking about hawksbill turtles.

Bungoma team was so proud to talk to George and others including Dr. Ronelus who they said his a black American teacher of Haitian origin.
On Monday 6th June 2016, was a great day for Namwesi primary pupils to participate in the distance learning event to prepare notes on wildlife so that they can do their presentations perfectly Those to participate were, Brighton, Shamillah, Obadiah, Evans and Faith.

It was 2.00 pm when Hands of Charity staff arrived Namwesi school compound to facilitated a long waited event. Students were much eager to see and hear from American students. “Tunaenda kuongea na wanafunzi wazungu”, we are going to talk to white students. You could find them making fun of talking like Americans. When time came, 3.30 pm our hp device donated to us by Small Solutions  and BRCK router were set ready to perform.

When the heard an incoming Skype call from George Newman they smiled in a secret manner not showing up there curiosity towards what was going to happen the next minute.The call was answered by video and they heard and saw Mr. Newman first then followed by different participants. Thereafter, all the eyes was on the screen to see what will happen next. Our students were surrised to see Dr. Ronelus with his students and his bass voice. They were also much interested with how their colleagues classrooms well equipped compared to Bungoma classrooms.



The common killed animals among the BIG 5 include;

Lion Elephant Rhino

LION: Reason why poached  Is poached and killed mainly because of it’s skin and heart according to our local understanding.Its skin is used for making leather shoes and bags. Its heart is used by the army soldiers as food. Locals belief that, the hearts make them to be as brave as the Lion ( a myth)

ELEPHANTS Are huge animals. They are mainly hunted because of their tusks.

RHINO They are mainly hunted for their horns.2.The horns cure cancer3.Other communities believes that the horns acts as a right of passage from childhood to adulthood.4The horns are used in making ornaments in some countries e.g. Kenya and Switzerlandwhich include, braceletes, bangles, earrings,. Cancer cure

SKIN The skins are removed from their bodies and sold in manufacturing industriesThe skin is used in making leather shoes, bags and clothes according to local understanding.

Suggestions to the government as a way of improving wildlife security.

1. We would like the government of Kenya to employ more game wardens.

2. Do capacity building to the entire community and who the government suspect as the poachers on the importance of wildlife and,

3. Employ the poachers who freely surrender themselves to the government as a way of stopping poaching.

4. Those people with big farms to be allowed the government to build sanctuaries as a way of bringing security near the citizen.


Earns Kenya foreign exchange after the tourist had visited Kenya. It is a pride of our country. The forests acts as water cachment areas and bring rain fal. l Help other tourists to have trips in Kenya to see animals that do not exist in the other countries.


RHINO: A Rhino is one of the big animals in Kenya. It is strong wide and big animal that feeds on grass. It issaid that it normally feed on grass at night. It stays in the forest

ELEPHANT:An elephant is a huge animal found in the forest. It lives for about 80 years. Its young one is called a calf. It normally feeds on grass during the day. They have two tusks on their noses and a strong trunk that runs from the forehead. They are mainly hunted for their tusks/ivory.

Daniel_PosterStopDestroyingFriday Butonge primary school. – class seven

Used paint activity to choose colors. . They drew a green vegetation as a simple of a place having enough rainfall and a good place for crop farming. Kids indicated rivers passing through that vegetation area and colored it with blue as a symbol of water and big trees showing the importance of forests. The purpose was to tell others on the importance of afforestation and effects of afforestation. The idea of afforestation is coming up to due increased number of cutting trees in the area they come from. 51 students attended the sessions as 26 laptops were used per session.




by smallsolutionsbigideas at July 01, 2016 03:20 PM

Sridhar Dhanapalan

A Complete Literacy Experience For Young Children

From the “I should have posted this months ago” vault…

When I led technology development at One Laptop per Child Australia, I maintained two golden rules:

  1. everything that we release must ‘just work’ from the perspective of the user (usually a child or teacher), and
  2. no special technical expertise should ever be required to set-up, use or maintain the technology.

In large part, I believe that we were successful.

Once the more obvious challenges have been identified and cleared, some more fundamental problems become evident. Our goal was to improve educational opportunities for children as young as possible, but proficiently using computers to input information can require a degree of literacy.

Sugar Labs have done stellar work in questioning the relevance of the desktop metaphor for education, and in coming up with a more suitable alternative. This proved to be a remarkable platform for developing a touch-screen laptop, in the form of the XO-4 Touch: the icons-based user interface meant that we could add touch capabilities with relatively few user-visible tweaks. The screen can be swivelled and closed over the keyboard as with previous models, meaning that this new version can be easily converted into a pure tablet at will.

Revisiting Our Assumptions

Still, a fundamental assumption has long gone unchallenged on all computers: the default typeface and keyboard. It doesn’t at all represent how young children learn the English alphabet or literacy. Moreover, at OLPC Australia we were often dealing with children who were behind on learning outcomes, and who were attending school with almost no exposure to English (since they speak other languages at home). How are they supposed to learn the curriculum when they can barely communicate in the classroom?

Looking at a standard PC keyboard, you’ll see that the keys are printed with upper-case letters. And yet, that is not how letters are taught in Australian schools. Imagine that you’re a child who still hasn’t grasped his/her ABCs. You see a keyboard full of unfamiliar symbols. You press one, and on the screen pops up a completely different looking letter! The keyboard may be in upper-case, but by default you’ll get the lower-case variants on the screen.

A standard PC keyboard
A standard PC keyboard

Unfortunately, the most prevalent touch-screen keyboard on the marke isn’t any better. Given the large education market for its parent company, I’m astounded that this has not been a priority.

The Apple iOS keyboard
The Apple iOS keyboard

Better alternatives exist on other platforms, but I still was not satisfied.

A Re-Think

The solution required an examination of how children learn, and the challenges that they often face when doing so. The end result is simple, yet effective.

The standard OLPC XO mechanical keyboard (above) versus the OLPC Australia Literacy keyboard (below)
The standard OLPC XO mechanical keyboard (above) versus the OLPC Australia Literacy keyboard (below)

This image contrasts the standard OLPC mechanical keyboard with the OLPC Australia Literacy keyboard that we developed. Getting there required several considerations:

  1. a new typeface, optimised for literacy
  2. a cleaner design, omitting characters that are not common in English (they can still be entered with the AltGr key)
  3. an emphasis on lower-case
  4. upper-case letters printed on the same keys, with the Shift arrow angled to indicate the relationship
  5. better use of symbols to aid instruction

One interesting user story with the old keyboard that I came across was in a remote Australian school, where Aboriginal children were trying to play the Maze activity by pressing the opposite arrows that they were supposed to. Apparently they thought that the arrows represented birds’ feet! You’ll see that we changed the arrow heads on the literacy keyboard as a result.

We explicitly chose not to change the QWERTY layout. That’s a different debate for another time.

The Typeface

The abc123 typeface is largely the result of work I did with John Greatorex. It is freely downloadable (in TrueType and FontForge formats) and open source.

After much research and discussions with educators, I was unimpressed with the other literacy-oriented fonts available online. Characters like ‘a’ and ‘9’ (just to mention a couple) are not rendered in the way that children are taught to write them. Young children are also susceptible to confusion over letters that look similar, including mirror-images of letters. We worked to differentiate, for instance, the lower-case L from the upper-case i, and the lower-case p from the lower-case q.

Typography is a wonderfully complex intersection of art and science, and it would have been foolhardy for us to have started from scratch. We used as our base the high-quality DejaVu Sans typeface. This gave us a foundation that worked well on screen and in print. Importantly for us, it maintained legibility at small point sizes on the 200dpi XO display.

On the Screen

abc123 is a suitable substitute for DejaVu Sans. I have been using it as the default user interface font in Ubuntu for over a year.

It looks great in Sugar as well. The letters are crisp and easy to differentiate, even at small point sizes. We made abc123 the default font for both the user interface and in activities (applications).

The abc123 font in Sugar's Write activity, on an XO laptop screen
The abc123 font in Sugar’s Write activity, on an XO laptop screen

Likewise, the touch-screen keyboard is clear and simple to use.

The abc123 font on the XO touch-screen keyboard, on an XO laptop screen
The abc123 font on the XO touch-screen keyboard, on an XO laptop screen

The end result is a more consistent literacy experience across the whole device. What you press on the hardware or touch-screen keyboard will be reproduced exactly on the screen. What you see on the user interface is also what you see on the keyboards.

by Sridhar Dhanapalan at July 01, 2016 07:26 AM

ICT4D Views from the Field

Second Training with Peace Corps Volunteers in Samoa: Upolu Island


The SolarSPELL team held the second of two trainings with Peace Corps volunteers in Samoa in mid-June, 2016, on Upolu Island.

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The SPELL team was appreciative of the opportunity to get to know the volunteers here before the training started; another welcoming and informative group! They had already heard about the SPELL from their fellow volunteers on Savai’i Island the week before, and were extremely positive and enthusiastic about the solar digital libraries and being able to use them at their schools around the island.

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This group had a lot of great questions and ideas for us, in moving forward. We loved the tough questions they had and the insightful thoughts shared during the discussion. And we’re particularly look forward to hearing from them with suggestions for improvements for the SPELL!

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In fact, we’ve already heard from a few of them over Facebook, with tremendous posts and news—please keep that fantastic communication coming! Below is a picture sent by one of the volunteers (Meagen) who introduced the SPELL to the teachers at her school, and she reported that the teachers ended up staying late because they lost track of time looking at everything on the SPELL. They wouldn’t even respond to her questions, they were so involved in it!

Samoa SPELL use from Meagan Good

After the training finished that afternoon, Bruce launched one of the SPELL libraries in the pool, just to demonstrate how waterproof it is…and that it floats!

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by ljhosman at July 01, 2016 04:39 AM

June 23, 2016

ICT4D Views from the Field

First Training with Peace Corps Volunteers in Samoa: Savai’i Island


The SolarSPELL team held the first of two trainings with Peace Corps volunteers in Samoa in early June, 2016, on Savai’i island.



This training was particularly exciting for a few reasons: first, because all of the PC Volunteers in Samoa are English-language teachers, and/or librarians at their local schools. Thus, the SolarSPELL digital library is truly addressing a need within an existing initiative (or, as I prefer to say, hitting a synergistic sweet spot).



The training was also fantastic because the SPELL team had the opportunity to hang out with and get to know the volunteers on this island before the training started. The group was incredibly welcoming and inclusive! Their enthusiasm during the training was incredible and quite contagious. It was really tremendous to hear how relevant they found the information on the libraries, and to see how excited they were to start using these digital libraries at their schools.




The team also had the opportunity to visit a few of the schools where volunteers are stationed, and to see the libraries they were in the process of setting up there.



It was particularly exciting when we visited the second school: classes were finished for the day, but the teachers were still there. When we showed them the SolarSPELL it was pretty incredible, as every teacher there had a smartphone with her. We showed each of them how to connect to the library with the WiFi on their phones, and within minutes (seconds?) they were all surfing the SolarSPELL website.



In fact, one of them had never used the WiFi or Web Browser features on her phone before, because Internet connectivity is neither common nor affordable here. She was so excited to learn that she already had these capabilities on her very own phone, and could now surf the library’s “Internet” for free!


by ljhosman at June 23, 2016 05:00 AM

June 21, 2016

One Laptop per Child

Why schools should provide one laptop per child

, Professor of Education and Informatics from the University of California, Irvine and ,  Assistant Professor from the Michigan State University, recently posted an article asking if there is a need to abandon attempts to integrate technology in schools due to a recent international study published by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which found no positive evidence of impact of educational technology on student performance.

According to the article, Professor Warschauer and Assistant Professor Zheng, have conducted their…

…own extensive observations. We conducted a synthesis of the results of 96 published global studies on these programs in K-12 schools during 2001-2015. Among them, 10 rigorously designed studies, mostly from the U.S., were included, to examine the relationship between these programs and academic achievement. We found significant benefits.We found students’ test scores in science, writing, math and English language arts improved significantly.

And the benefits were not limited to test scores.

To find out about their conclusions and read the full article, please click here.


Disclosure statement

Mark Warschauer has received funding for his research from the National Science Foundation, the Institute of Education Sciences, the Carnegie Corporation, the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access, the Spencer Foundation, the John Randolph Haynes and Dora Haynes Foundation, and Google Research.

Binbin Zheng does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond the academic appointment above

by mariana at June 21, 2016 12:50 PM

June 20, 2016

One Laptop per Child

. @MoneyGramMe Foundation Reinvests in Innovative Educational Organizations in 2016

Grants of nearly $300,000 will support educational programs

Original post from  MoneyGram

DALLAS, June 14, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — MoneyGram (NASDAQ: MGI) today announced the MoneyGram Foundation will award seven grants across seven countries for the first grant cycle of 2016. The foundation will renew its support to innovative educational programs operating in India, Jamaica, Laos, Nicaragua, Pakistan and Vietnam, as well as in four cities in the United States.

“The MoneyGram Foundation is honored to continue to support programs around the world that are making a meaningful and measurable difference for children’s education in communities where our customers live and work,” said Pamela H. Patsley, MoneyGram’s  executive chairman. “MoneyGram is proud to expand our foundation’s work to Laos and Nicaragua through these established programs.”

The recipients in the foundation’s first grant round of 2016 include:

  • Agastya International Foundation, to continue funding three mobile science labs traveling to Darbhanga, Mumbai, and Aligarh with the mission of providing an experiential, hands-on science education program to thousands of economically disadvantaged children.
  • Children of Vietnam, to fund the construction of a 25 x 30 foot weather-resistant school building in A Pat village in Tay Giang District, Quang Nam Province, complete with ceiling fan, lighting, electrical system, water system, indoor plumbing and awning for shade. When complete, it will be the sole school building for the community.
  • Developments in Literacy, to fully fund the operational and administrative costs of the Nai Abadi school located in Rawalpindi, Pakistan.
  • First Book, to fund a book donation through the Día de Los Libros initiative in the United States (Dallas, Los Angeles, New York and Miami) and Jamaica.
  • Grants for Innovative Teaching (GFIT), a Signature Project of the Junior League of Dallas that encourages and supports excellence in teaching by awarding grants up to $2,000 to Dallas ISD teachers for innovative projects that otherwise would not be provided for in schools budgets.
  • One Laptop Per Child (OLPC), to fully fund the implementation of the “MathemaTIC” educational program in two schools in Chinandega, Nicaragua. The schools will receive 300 laptops to complete the program.
  • Pencils of Promise (PoP), to fund one of 14 schools Pencils of Promise will build in the Luang Prabang Region of Laos this year. A typical PoP school has 4 classrooms and a minimum lifespan of 20 years.

The MoneyGram Foundation plans to distribute two more rounds of grants in 2016. To learn more about the MoneyGram Foundation and the projects it supports, please visit moneygramfoundation.org.



by mariana at June 20, 2016 12:00 PM

June 15, 2016

OLPC Basecamp @ Malacca, Malaysia

Documenting dLEAP

  It is June, 2016. Since my last visit in December in 2015 I have been thinking of documenting the dLEAP project. Managed to get a written version done with links to videos that capture in  detail how the project evolved over the last 2 years. It was a journey.

Writing the acknowlegement revealed how many people are helping in their own ways.

“together we do so little, Together we can do so much”  - Anonymous

by T.K. Kang (noreply@blogger.com) at June 15, 2016 02:34 AM

June 05, 2016

XOs in Honduras

Former student

Junior got in touch with me today.  It was the first time in several years that I had heard from him.  He told me that he is studying computers at his high school.  He left the countryside and now lives in San Pedro Sula, the biggest city in Honduras.  He said he was thankful for the opportunity to use XO computers when he was an elementary school student.  He said that he's the only student from a rural school.  I'm so glad to hear that he is continuing his studies and that he found something he really likes- computers!


by Becky Young (noreply@blogger.com) at June 05, 2016 11:48 PM

May 30, 2016

One Laptop per Child

Switched-on youth – CASE STUDY: @OLPC

Technology plays a momentous role in shaping the future of our societies and ensuring that the next generation is prepared to cope with the burdens – and embrace the opportunities – to come. So, how exactly are we enabling our youth to contribute in this digital era?

Read this article by Stephanie Spurr posted at International Innovation where

Mariana Ludmila Cortés, VP of Business Development at OLPC, explains how the non-profit organisation is enabling children in developing countries to access educational devices for self-empowered learning.

You can read the article here and/or download the PDF here.


by mariana at May 30, 2016 07:07 PM

May 20, 2016

ICT4D Views from the Field

75 New SolarSPELLs Built!


On Friday May 6, 2016, students at Cal Poly built 75 new SolarSPELL libraries! What’s more, this feat—which included drilling, wire-stripping, soldering, gluing, taping, Velcro-ing, and much more, was accomplished in just a few hours.



The group did, in fact, get a jump-start on the build on Wednesday, May 4, having had the opportunity to set up all of the equipment, describe and train on what needed to be done in terms of assembly and building, and identify any potential bottlenecks for the assembly-line manufacture that would take place on Friday.





These SPELL libraries are destined for schools in Samoa, Tonga, and the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). In all three locations, we are working in partnership with the US Peace Corps, to provide their Volunteers with this educational technology to assist them in being able to carry out their mission of being teachers in remote, rural schools.


On the same evening of the build, the University hosted a gala evening for alumni, called the Evening of Green and Gold. SolarSPELL was invited to set up a display and speak to alumni about the project’s accomplishments.



Even though the build was exciting and fostered a sense of accomplishment, there remains quite a bit more to be done besides building the hardware of the library. After the build, the students transitioned to working on gathering additional content for the library (especially content curated for our new partners Samoa and Tonga), testing out the new website, building a new-and-improved how-to-use guide.


We look forward to deploying the first batch of the new SPELLs in Samoa in June!

by ljhosman at May 20, 2016 03:50 PM

May 12, 2016

Ghana Together

Axim Public Library Update


…that’s the total number of book checkouts recorded by the Axim Library staff in 2015! That’s probably about 14,000 more than recorded before the advent of the Mobile Library! As one Ghanaian put it to Maryanne Ward on a recent visit: “They have done well, by God’s grace.” And, we might add, by determined human effort!

Beginning early Dec 2014, the library staff---Gaddiel Eyison and James Kwesi Armado, led by their Regional Director Mercy Ackah---initiated a successful Mobile Library Service, powered by a motor-tricycle, which serves 15 Primary/Junior High schools in Axim proper and surrounding villages. We worked with our partner, Western Heritage Home, to put that over the top.

Regional Director Mercy Ackah meeting with staff

For the benefit of our Ghanaian readers, the schools (apologies for spelling errors…) are:

Morning Star
Saint Augustinos
Christ the King
Brawire Akymim
Life International
Roman Catholic

2,384 children paid the 1 cedi fee (about 25 cents US) for their once-per-year library registration fee in 2015. First term 2016 is coming along nicely, too. (Actually their parents did...)

Major thanks to:

-Parents, who pay the registration fee, encourage their child’s education, see to their uniforms and notebooks, and listen to them read aloud. Not so easy with probably no electricity for lights in the home. The library staff admonishes the children: “take this book to the house and read it to your mother!” Mom learns to read a bit better, too, and enjoys seeing her child’s progress.

-The elected Axim Municipal Assembly, led by Mr. James Baidoe, Municipal Chief Executive, which budgets 90 cedis/month (about $25) for fuel for the tricycle, provides the rooms in the Axim Community Center to house the library, and tries to fund basic supplies such as tape, pens, book card/pocket paper, etc.

Check-out time!

-Headmistresses and Headmasters and teachers who work around the weekly disruptions---the Mobile Library is here!  (Not perfectly scheduled---the tricycle is not very speedy!) And support the library staff by encouraging the students, monitoring the care of these precious books (do you know how scarce they are??), urging the children to ask their parents for the registration fee.

The Mobile Library is here! TERRIFICALLY EXCITING!!!

-Friends who donate books---wonderful books---the kind of books they’d be happy to give their own children or grandchildren---no 40-year-old encyclopedias for our world-class students in Axim!

-Ebby Mienza and his family who pack up the books that have been shipped to them in Maryland and get them to the container. And the shipperwho gets the container onto the ship, and takes it across the Atlantic.

Ebby Mienza and his daughter re-packing books into standard-sized boxes for the shipping container. They have processed thousands of books in this manner. Ebby grew up in Axim.

-Friends in Accrawho meet the ship at the port, off-load the books, do the import paperwork, and deliver them to the Axim Library.

Two very good guys. Ishmael Baidoe (left) lived for years in Finland, George Hayford in Atlanta. They are back "home" in Ghana and help by collecting books from the port at Tema and delivering to Axim. No easy task!

Most recent shipment, delivered to the Axim Library and still being unpacked as we write. 19 boxes!

-The Ghana Library Authority (the national government department that oversees libraries) that pays the staff, provides accession numbers, a National Service worker to help, tries its best with minimal resources to champion public libraries country-wide, and nourishes intellectual freedom.

There are challenges:

-In rural areas like Axim, this is the first generation where many students finish junior high to say nothing of senior high. Leaders are trying to instill the reading habit, but schools generally have few textbooks and no library books, so the public library is IT!

Students with their library books in their classroom. With these books, they can actually use their reading skills. Without these books, they basically have only the teacher's writing on the blackboard, and their own copying of the teacher's writing in their exercise books.

-Books don’t hold up well in the tropical climate. Also, these children are the first generation to actually handle books. They are taught to be careful, but…the staff uses a lot of book repair tape!

Kind of chaotic, but he's READING his book no matter what!

-Some parents feel the one-cedi library registration fee, mandated by the Ghana Library Authority, contradicts the principle of tuition-free school and free public libraries and are reluctant to pay, although it is affordable.

When parents are late or can't pay school fees, students are not allowed to attend school. So, they come on their own initiative to the library to read on their own. 

-Understandably, the school staffs would prefer libraries in their individual schools---all but impossible with current national resources.

-The cost of shipping physical books from the US is high, even with our cost-saving system. And books are simply not available to purchase there. Some recommend skipping physical books and going to digital readers, but that introduces whole new challenges with sporadic (and expensive) electrical and internet services for charging/downloading, care, distribution, etc.

-Some recommend using buses as mobile libraries, with built-in shelving, computer terminals, etc. that go from school to school. They are being used in some cities. But that brings the problem of the high cost of fuel and vehicle maintenance. We feel Western Heritage Home leadership (our Axim-based partner organization) made a wise choice by going to the thrifty mobile tricycle. Clunkier, but affordable, and works fine in this semi-rural area.

More than you all wanted to know…we tend to get carried away with this library stuff!! Ha!

Thanks for all 

When you’re cruising summer yard sales and farmers’ markets, if you spy some great children’s books, you know what to do!

For more News Updates, http://ghanatogether.blogspot.com
Our website is: http://ghanatogether.org
Contact us at info@ghanatogether.org
We are a 501c3 non-profit, ID 26-2182965

by Ghana Together (noreply@blogger.com) at May 12, 2016 07:03 PM

May 09, 2016

Juan Chacon Free Software & Education | El Salvador

Resizing a Logical Volume on Centos 7.2 with system-storage-manager

My desktop machine at work was setup to dual-boot Ubuntu 14.04 and Windows 10.  Deciding I needed Centos 7.2 much more than Windows 10, I installed Centos into the space that had been occupied by Windows.

Using the Centos 7 installation DVD, I followed the partitioning proceedure that I can now almost do in my sleep, creating the following partitions:
  1. 500 MiB /boot with an xfs file system on an actual partition
  2. 1024 MiB swap
  3. 20 GiB / with an xfs file system on a logical volume
  4. /home with whatever space is left with an ext4 file system on a logical volume
I said I could almost do this in my sleep. I made one huge mistake.  Instead of making the /home partition with GiB, I made it with MiB!  I didn't notice this until I got a warning about the home partition running out of space.  I had spent a lot of time already installing and then updating the system.  I didn't want to go through that again.

So I used this mistake as an opportunity to explore resizing my logical volume.  It took a bit of poking around, but eventually I found this webpage, from which I did the following:
  1. Logged into the GUI as root so that /home would not be in use.
  2. Ran yum install system-storage-manager to install ssm.
  3. Ran ssm list to see my volumes.
  4. Ran ssm resize -s [size] [volume] to make /home larger.
It worked like a charm, and now I'm logged back in with my regular user with a few hundered gigabytes of space in my /home partition.

by jelkner (noreply@blogger.com) at May 09, 2016 03:37 PM

April 28, 2016

Ghana Together


On Friday, March 18, Ghana Together happily sponsored the first Days for Girls International Workshop at the Community Development Vocational Technical Institute (CDVTI) in Axim, Ghana!

CDVTI is a vocational high school, offering courses in hairdressing, fashion design, sewing/jewelry making, catering/baking, electrical, plumbing, auto mechanics, welding/fabrication, computer science, and general subjects such as English, math, health, home management, bookkeeping, entrepreneurship, etc.
What is Days for Girls International?

DFG is a US-based 501c3 non-profit whose mission is to create a more dignified, free, and educated world through access to lasting feminine hygiene solutions and to see every girl and woman in the world with ready feasible access to quality sustainable feminine hygiene & women’s health education by 2022.

A worthy goal backed by VERY large amounts of hard work!

We were introduced to DFG upon an invitation to visit the Anacortes, WA DFG Chapter. A group of women volunteer one day per month to sew Days for Girls menstrual kits. They are motivated by the plight of girls worldwide who miss school during their monthly periods because of lack of workable menstrual products. They generously offered 72 kits for us to take to Axim on our March visit, as samples.

And so on Friday March 18, Madame Bernice Ankrah, the Days for Girls Country Director for Ghana, and her husband Prince, traveled to Axim, Ghana from their businesses/home in Accra. Bernice conducted a DFG Workshop at the CDVTI. Maryanne Ward of Ghana Together was privileged to be present.

Madame Bernice Ankrah, Days for Girls International--Ghana Country Director
Madame Bernice first spent about an hour with both male and female students—about 55 students in all---plus half a dozen teachers. She shared how, because of her own early pregnancy and motherhood, she missed out on formal education, but has managed to catch up through personal effort. She mentioned that her own beloved children are about the same age as the students at CDVTI and she felt especially blessed to be able to be share her life experience with these Axim students.
She now owns her own fashion business with 16 seamstresses on her staff. Not only does she design, sew, and market clothing, but she also runs a “Days for Girls Enterprise”. As Country Director, Bernice travels to many parts of Ghana giving DFG informational workshops and also training seamstresses to sew DFG kits as a business enterprise.

Then she plunged enthusiastically into the subject at hand: reproductive health.

Pinning charts to the blackboard

She went over both male and female reproductive systems in great detail for about an hour! She has the natural Ghanaian oratorical ability, and had us all mesmerized! 

Suffice it to say that all the ladies (as she called them) learned more about the guy’s side of the topic, esp. the basic body parts involved in reproduction and how they work, and the guys about the ladies, than any of them had ever imagined! They gave absolutely rapt attention!

Simple charts but effective.This is Ghana---can't trust electricity for PowerPoint slides or keeping a laptop charged. She used the tools she had wonderfully.

Bernice finished the first session by imploring the guys to respect women and themselves when it comes to sex.
Then she excused the guys. Or let’s say she TRIED to excuse them. They were enjoying it so much, they wouldn’t leave! Director Seidu had to step in and assert her authority, and not only ordered them to leave, but told them they could NOT hang around the door and try to listen! She had to station a teacher outside to enforce her order! J

Come on guys---we love you, really we do, but it's time to GO!

Now it was “ladies time.” 

Bernice explained the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and women's reproductive health in detail using her charts and vivid examples. 

Then she explained how the DFG-designed menstrual hygiene kits have so many advantages: they are washable, reusable, and last for probably two years. They have been redesigned/improved many times, depending on actual feedback, and work much better than the “rags”, as she put it---homemade solutions. 

Since most of the girls present were taking sewing classes, it is entirely possible for them to make their own. The girls discussed the problem of having to dispose of sanitary napkins. And they pointed out the substantial cost savings over purchased sanitary napkins, which most said they could not afford.

One of the fun activities was when a girl came up with an excellent comment or idea, Bernice would look at her intently, then choose an under-panty from her stash in about the girl’s size and throw it at her! Even Madame Seidu was treated to her very own under-panty after she made a comment, much to everyone’s enjoyment!

Director Safiatu Seidu gleefully showing off her "prize"!

Bernice donned a DFG kit over the top of her shorts---and strutted around a bit! A natural teacher, she made it fun as well as informative and broke down inhibitions with her humor but also sincere attitude.

Hey, Bernice, the kit fits!!

She conducted a sewing session, where she sewed some kits from materials she had brought---with everyone watching intently.

CDVTI sewing machines. Remember, with sporadic electricity, hand-driven machines can keep going no matter what!

Girls intently watching the sewing demonstration
At the end, she handed out a sample DFG kit to every lady in the room, including teachers, in each one's approximate size, from those Maryanne had brought. About 30 were left over and are being saved for September’s incoming class.

Director Seidu and student handing out the kits

The teachers told Maryanne they thought the kits were a very good idea. Teacher Flora, who teaches sewing and fashion design, was especially positive.

Teacher Flora captured the entire session on her tablet---for future instructional use, she said

Madame Bernice has promised to return to Axim to train students to sew kits themselves. She has introduced the concept to this one school in the community, but these young women, trained in sewing and eager to start their own businesses, can spread the idea. Maryanne also will follow up with Director Seidu in the coming months.

Every CDVTI female student has a DFG menstrual kit and new knowledge about their lives as women

We give our heartfelt thanks to the women of the Anacortes DFG Chapter for providing the introductory kits, and for their workshop that Maryanne attended before introducing DFG to Axim.

For earlier News Updates, go to http://ghanatogether.blogspot.com/
Contact us: info@ghanatogether.org
Our website is: http://ghanatogether.org

Our mailing address is: Ghana Together, 808 Addison Place, Mount Vernon, WA 98273

by Ghana Together (noreply@blogger.com) at April 28, 2016 09:49 PM

April 19, 2016

Juan Chacon Free Software & Education | El Salvador

Moving an ArcGIS File Geodatabase to QGIS

I am taking GGS 553: Geographic Information System this semester at part of my graduate studies at George Mason University.  In a previous post I described how I ended up in this Geographic Information Science graduate certificate program, which I have now been pursuing for almost 2 years.  GGS 553 is a required course, and the first one in the program that has required me to use proprietary software, since much of the course is focused on learning to use ArcGIS.

I am both philosophically and ethically opposed to proprietary software, since it runs dead against the expansion of our shared cultural space, which I believe is vital to the survival of our species. This is a required course, however, and in the large scheme of things I am willing to compromise when I need to. I like to think of it as dancing with the devil, learning the devil's moves in order to be able to freely out dance him in the future. In this case that will mean applying what I learn in GGS 553 to mastering QGIS, the free software alternative to ArcGIS. I had intended to try to do each of our assigned labs this semester in both ArcGIS and QGIS, but when I found it difficult enough just to complete them on time in ArcGIS, I gave up on that idea after the first week.

This week we have a sort of half size assignment, so I thought I would use the extra time available to see if I could do it in QGIS.  The first challenge will be to load the project data into QGIS.  We were given the data in ArcGIS's file geodatabase format. QGIS can not yet read and write to this format directly, but there are tools available to convert it into PostGIS, with which QGIS can work well.

Last Summer I wrote a blog post documenting how I setup a PostGIS server on Ubuntu 14.04.  Since this year I am also needing to learn RHEL, I'll use this guide to setup the server on the little Centos 7 server I have at home for just such purposes, and then connect to it from QGIS running on my Ubuntu desktop.

Installing a PostGIS Server on Centos 7

$ sudo yum install postgis postgresql-server postgresql-contrib
$ sudo postgresql-setup initdb
$ sudo -i -u postgres
$ psql
postgres=# \password postgres
Enter new password:
Enter it again:
postgres=# \q
$ exit
$ sudo vi /var/lib/pgsql/data/pg_hba.conf

Change this line (near the bottom):

host    all             all               ident

to this:

host    all             all                  md5

Next allow database connections from outside:

$ sudo vi /var/lib/pgsql/data/postgresql.conf


#listen_addresses = 'localhost'

to this:

listen_addresses = '*'

Create a new database user with superuser privileges:

$ sudo su - postgres
$ createuser --superuser [user]
$ psql -c "ALTER ROLE [user] PASSWORD '[password]'"
$ exit

Then as that user create the database and add gis extensions:

$ createdb webster
$ psql -d webster -c 'CREATE EXTENSION postgis'

Then after copying over the Webster.db directory containing the file geodatabase, I ran:

$ ogr2ogr -f "PostgreSQL" PG:"dbname=webster user=[user] password=[password]" Webster.gdb

After which I connected my desktop QGIS to the PostgreSQL server running on my little household server and loaded the three layers I found there:


by jelkner (noreply@blogger.com) at April 19, 2016 03:44 PM

April 07, 2016

Juan Chacon Free Software & Education | El Salvador

Software Management with YUM

YUM (Yellowdog Updater, Modified) is the package management tool used on Red Hat Enterprise Linux and its derived versions, CentOS and Scientific Linux. It acts as a front end to the RPM Package Manager (RPM), and is used to install, remove, and update software on Red Hat based systems.

I first encountered YUM when installing Yellow Dog Linux on PowerPC based Macintosh computers back at the dawn of the 21st century.  When I switched over to Debian based GNU/Linux systems with the release of Ubuntu in 2004, I completely lost touch with the RPM world until my Spring semester Linux System Administration course's pursuit of RHCSA certification brought me back into the fold.

I am writing this post to use as a handy list of the most common things I need to do when managing software:
  1. Update the software on the system
    $ yum check-update
    $ sudo yum update package_name
    $ sudo yum update [to update all packages]
    $ sudo yum group update group_name
  2. List all the currently installed software
    $ yum list installed
    $ yum list installed "global expression"
  3. Search for available packages
    $ yum list available "global expression"
    $ yum search term...
  4. Display information about a package
    $ yum info package_name
  5. Install a new package
    $ sudo yum install package_name
  6. Remove an existing package
    $ sudo yum remove package_name
  7. List the current repos
    $ yum repolist
    $ yum repolist -v
That covers the basics. I also need to learn how to clean up the cruft that accumulates over time as a system is run, in Debian land the kind of thing that would be done with $ sudo apt-get autoremove. It seems that in RPM space that is accomplished with the package-cleanup utility, so I'll look into that.


by jelkner (noreply@blogger.com) at April 07, 2016 10:06 AM

April 04, 2016

Sayamindu Dasgupta

Studying the relationship between remixing & learning

With more than 10 million users, the Scratch online community is the largest online community where kids learn to program. Since it was created, a central goal of the community has been to promote “remixing” — the reworking and recombination of existing creative artifacts. As the video above shows, remixing programming projects in the current web-based version of Scratch is as easy is as clicking on the “see inside” button in a project web-page, and then clicking on the “remix” button in the web-based code editor. Today, close to 30% of projects on Scratch are remixes.

Remixing plays such a central role in Scratch because its designers believed that remixing can play an important role in learning. After all, Scratch was designed first and foremost as a learning community with its roots in the Constructionist framework developed at MIT by Seymour Papert and his colleagues. The design of the Scratch online community was inspired by Papert’s vision of a learning community similar to Brazilian Samba schools (Henry Jenkins writes about his experience of Samba schools in the context of Papert’s vision here), and a comment Marvin Minsky made in 1984:

Adults worry a lot these days. Especially, they worry about how to make other people learn more about computers. They want to make us all “computer-literate.” Literacy means both reading and writing, but most books and courses about computers only tell you about writing programs. Worse, they only tell about commands and instructions and programming-language grammar rules. They hardly ever give examples. But real languages are more than words and grammar rules. There’s also literature – what people use the language for. No one ever learns a language from being told its grammar rules. We always start with stories about things that interest us.

In a new paper — titled “Remixing as a pathway to Computational Thinking” — that was recently published at the ACM Conference on Computer Supported Collaborative Work and Social Computing (CSCW) conference, we used a series of quantitative measures of online behavior to try to uncover evidence that might support the theory that remixing in Scratch is positively associated with learning.

Scratch blocks

Of course, because Scratch is an informal environment with no set path for users, no lesson plan, and no quizzes, measuring learning is an open problem. In our study, we built on two different approaches to measure learning in Scratch. The first approach considers the number of distinct types of programming blocks available in Scratch that a user has used over her lifetime in Scratch (there are 120 in total) — something that can be thought of as a block repertoire or vocabulary. This measure has been used to model informal learning in Scratch in an earlier study. Using this approach, we hypothesized that users who remix more will have a faster rate of growth for their code vocabulary.

Controlling for a number of factors (e.g. age of user, the general level of activity) we found evidence of a small, but positive relationship between the number of remixes a user has shared and her block vocabulary as measured by the unique blocks she used in her non-remix projects. Intriguingly, we also found a strong association between the number of downloads by a user and her vocabulary growth. One interpretation is that this learning might also be associated with less active forms of appropriation, like the process of reading source code described by Minksy.

The second approach we used considered specific concepts in programming, such as loops, or event-handling. To measure this, we utilized a mapping of Scratch blocks to key programming concepts found in this paper by Karen Brennan and Mitchel Resnick. For example, in the image below are all the Scratch blocks mapped to the concept of “loop”.

Scratch loop blocks

We looked at six concepts in total (conditionals, data, events, loops, operators, and parallelism). In each case, we hypothesized that if someone has had never used a given concept before, they would be more likely to use that concept after encountering it while remixing an existing project.

Using this second approach, we found that users who had never used a concept were more likely to do so if they had been exposed to the concept through remixing. Although some concepts were more widely used than others, we found a positive relationship between concept use and exposure through remixing for each of the six concepts. We found that this relationship was true even if we ignored obvious examples of cutting and pasting of blocks of code. In all of these models, we found what we believe is evidence of learning through remixing.

Of course, there are many limitations in this work. What we found are all positive correlations — we do not know if these relationships are causal. Moreover, our measures do not really tell us whether someone has “understood” the usage of a given block or programming concept.However, even with these limitations, we are excited by the results of our work, and we plan to build on what we have. Our next steps include developing and utilizing better measures of learning, as well as looking at other methods of appropriation like viewing the source code of a project.

The paper (and this blog post) is collaborative work with Benjamin Mako Hill, Andrés Monroy-Hernández and William Hale. The paper is released as open access so anyone can read the entire paper here.

by Sayamindu Dasgupta at April 04, 2016 05:03 AM

March 29, 2016

ICT4D Views from the Field

Voice of America features SolarSPELL on Learning English News Program

The Voice of America featured the SolarSPELL digital library in a recent news article on its website.

Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 3.31.58 PM

Vanuatu Peace Corps volunteer Alexis Cullen, Peace Corps ICT4D Program Officer Gabriel Krieshok, and Prof. Laura Hosman were interviewed for the article. The article also features links to videos on the SolarSPELL website.

by ljhosman at March 29, 2016 10:41 PM

Juan Chacon Free Software & Education | El Salvador

Setting Up a Centos Router - Part 2

VirtualBox provides a wonderful tool for learning about networking.  It enables doing "network experiments" quickly and easily by removing the need to focus on problems at the physical (hardware) layer of the networking stack, since several VirtualBox VMs can be configured on a single host machine and networked together virtually. This blog post will document my attempt to setup a VirtualBox network.

The first thing I did was create a base install VM of Centos 7 and updated the software ($ sudo yum update).
VirtualBox supports cloning VMs, which is by far the easies and quickest way to spin up several VMs. To make a clone, right click on the base machine and select Clone:
Give the clone a name and check the Reinitialize the MAC address of all network cards box. I've never tried not checking this box, but I imagine bad things could happen if there were two machines on the network with NICs having the same MAC address.
I selected Full clone for each of these VMs. Linked clones can save space (see Linked Clone in VirtualBox, What is it and How to Clone Virtual Machine?), but at 20 Gigs for these VMs I have space for dozens of them, so the benefit of avoiding dependencies among the clones outweighs the potential savings of space.
I nice progress bar and a few seconds later and you have a new VM.
For the present experiment I created three VMs named CentosRouter, Server1, and Server2
CentosRouter is going to be the router (obviously ;-), so it will need two NICs:
Adapter 1 is set to Bridged Adapter, so that it will on the same network as the host machine.
Adapter 2 is set to intnet, the internal network I am creating with the VMs.  Server1 and Server2 also have their NICs set to  intnet.
The next step is to edit the network scripts and enable ip_forwarding on the router:
1. # vi /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-enp0s3
2. # vi /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-enp0s8 

Note: The UUID was obtained by running: # uuidgen enp0s8
3. # vi /etc/sysctl.conf
Finally, I needed to install firewalld and restart the router:
# yum install firewalld
# reboot
With the router configured, it is time to setup Server1 and Server2:
# vi /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-enp0s3

Note: The HWADDR was obtained by running: # ip a as in the screenshot above.
Server2 should be similar, with IPADDR set to, and the HWADDR and UUID set appropriately.


by jelkner (noreply@blogger.com) at March 29, 2016 06:34 PM

Setting Up a Centos Router - Part 1

In order to run the kind of experiments we will need to run to really learn proper GNU/Linux system administration, we need our own "safe space" in which to play.  In previous years when I had students with the level of skills our ITN 170 group is quickly acquiring, I always used one of our machines as a NAT Router so that we could isolate our own network traffic and setup custom services within our private network space.

The basic idea is captured in the following illustration.
What is required is a machine with two NICs (represented here by Tux) - one which connects to the outside network and the other which connects to the local network.

Setup Process

Here is what I did to setup a basic router using an old desktop PC:

  • Did a minimal install of CentOS 7 on a machine with two NICs, connecting one of the NICs to the outside network and activating this connection using DHCP on the host network during the installation process.
  • Ran yum update after installation to make sure I had the current software.
  • Ran yum install yum-utils vim to get vim and the package-cleanup utility. I then ran package-cleanup --oldkernels --count=1 to remove all but the current kernel package.
  • I ran ip addr and got back information on three network interfaces:
    1. lo - the loopback interface or localhost, with its network address.
    2. enp0s25 - the NIC on the motherboard which I had activated with DHCP during installation.
    3. enp3s0 - the addon NIC that was not configured during installation. It had the following information:
      enp3s0:  mtu 1500 qdisc pfifo_fast state UP qlen 1000
      link/ether 00:15:17:20:b6:e6 brd ff:ff:ff:ff:ff:ff
  • I edited /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-enp3s0 adding the following:
    GATEWAY="x.x.x.x" (place your gateway adress here)
I used the resources linked below to try to enable IP routing and NAT, but I was not successful in getting it to route.  I have a laptop running Centos 7 connected to the router machine.  Before attempting this setup I had installed ClearOS on the router and got it to route for the laptop with a setup process using ClearOS's web interface.  An experienced friend of mine shamed me into removing this, however, by telling me he would never hire a sysadmin who only new how to set this up using a web interface.

So for now I have assigned two of my students to continue looking into it, and I'll get together with that friend who shamed me into this to get his assistance on Tuesday if we haven't figured it out by then.

To be continued...


by jelkner (noreply@blogger.com) at March 29, 2016 05:39 PM

Sugar Digest / Walter Bender

Nevada Driver Licenses and ID Cards

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Offices | State of Nevada Home PageHonorably-discharged veterans may have a Veteran designation placed on their license. Present evidence of honorable discharge at any DMV office. Fight Fraud NVSingle vehicles with a weight (GVWR) of 26,001 or more pounds;Cars, vans, pickups, mopeds, and other vehicles with a weight (GVWR) ofCombination vehicles, such as tractor-trailers, with a Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR) of 26,001 pounds or more, provided the vehicle being towed has a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 10,001 pounds or more.

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March 29, 2016 01:39 AM

March 21, 2016

Sugar Digest / Walter Bender


My WordPress instance seems to be attracting hackers. Please refer to my posts in the Sugar Labs wiki (https://wiki.sugarlabs.org/go/Archive/Current_Events) wile I sort things out.

March 21, 2016 02:23 PM

March 20, 2016

Sayamindu Dasgupta

Marvin Minsky

Last week, the Media Lab organized a memorial event for Marvin Minsky. The main event space had large life-size images of Marvin’s living room on all sides; I had been lucky enough to visit Marvin and Gloria a few times over the last three years (courtesy Brian Silverman and Cynthia Solomon), and I’m glad that the living room was an integral part of celebrating Marvin’s life and legacy. Each table in the post-event reception had a large pile of fortune cookies in the middle, and each of these fortune cookies had a “Marvinism” inside. Here’s an example (Hiroshi Ishii tweeted a list of all the Marvinisms in the cookies):

Marvinism fortune cookie

For those who can read Bangla, I also wrote a short piece on Marvin for the “Bigyan” (বিজ্ঞান) e-zine; you can read it here.

by Sayamindu Dasgupta at March 20, 2016 08:58 PM

Juan Chacon Free Software & Education | El Salvador

Centos Command-line Tricks and Tips - Getting Rid of the Terminal Beep

Getting Rid of the Terminal Beep:

My terminal was making an annoying beeping (more like a swoosh beep, actually) every time it couldn't match a tab completion.  I like to listen to music while I work, so this was really driving me crazy.  All I needed to do to stop it was to run:
$ echo 'set bell-style none' >> ~/.inputrc
which appends 'set bell-style none' to the .inputrc file in my home directory.  .inputrc didn't exist in my home directory (I checked before running the command), so running this command created it.
After exiting the terminal and starting another, the terminal maintained the silence I wanted it to ;-)

by jelkner (noreply@blogger.com) at March 20, 2016 01:16 AM

March 13, 2016


Congratulations to Sameer Verma

 Our own Sameer Verma has been elected for a two-year term on the Sugar Labs Oversight Board! He joins the board of 7 members governing the future of Sugar Labs.

Elections for the Sugar Labs Oversight Board were held in January. All seven seats were up for election, the top 4 winners were elected for two-year terms and the following 3 were elected for one-year terms. In this way approximately half the board is up for election each year, going forward.

Board meetings are held on the first Friday of every month over IRC. You can find the meeting minutes on the Sugar Labs wiki.

Congratulations to Sameer and the other board members. OLPC-SF is excited and is looking forward to what 2016 brings for Sugar Labs and the OLPC Community.

by adborden at March 13, 2016 02:55 AM

March 12, 2016


OLPC SF March 12, 2016 Meeting Notes

Topics discussed on March 12, 2016 Meeting:

Sugar Labs


Spread the word on Sugarizer with “hackathons” and introducing Sugarizer in Hour of Code at schools.

Get OLPC-SF more involved in the process.


Alt School - charter school


Focus - use technology to document the learning experience of each child and figure out the needs of each child. 

Adding more technology into the school experience.

Working this new system - kids like to learn and given the right opportunity they will take in and grow further on what they find interesting.


Tanzania – RACHEL

REACH Shirati.org

Goals: Get the server to function, and introduce teachers to the software

Engage the teachers to prove the laptops are not simply a toy, rather there is an actual use to the computers

However, the server was not connecting once 5-6 laptops were in use.



Sameer Verma, Aaron Borden, and Andi Gros


Open Learning Exchange

Actively looking to grow out to new devices.

India/Bhagmalpur data - There is data to see what the kids are using.

Hard to assess whether or not the kids are using the OLPC laptops unless we see the data.

by shreya at March 12, 2016 08:35 PM

February 24, 2016

XOs in Honduras


The school where I started the first XO project that I know of in Honduras just got renovated.  This school renovation is great for students and for the community.  I asked the teacher if any of the XOs from 6 years ago are working.  I think that very few if any of the 25+ XOs from 2010 and 2011 are working.  The 2015 school year was the first year since the start of the project that I did not visit the school while classes were in session.  In past years I made some repairs and bought some replacement chargers to keep the computers up and running.  Without someone on location maintaining the laptops, they break and don't get used.

Enjoy these pictures of the recent renovations.  It's something to celebrate.


by Becky Young (noreply@blogger.com) at February 24, 2016 07:06 AM

February 22, 2016

Ghana Together


It’s a new year and in addition to ongoing projects, Ghana Together, with our associates of Western Heritage Home, are busy working on some new mutually-agreed-upon projects.

First to completion is a new polytank at the Heritage Building!

The Heritage has seen heavy and multiple uses over the years---as an orphanage/children’s home; as space for science classes, computer classes, community gatherings, exam preparation classes; a dormitory for senior high school girls; and a couple of rooms as the residence of Western Heritage Home's Operations Manager.

And now our beloved Heritage has a new mission as the dormitory for young men and women from the recently-established Manye Academy Government Senior High School.

The original tank was installed and hooked up to the Axim piped water system, on the expert advice of the Pacific Northwest Chapter of Engineers Without Borders team. The Bellingham-based group traveled to Axim in 2009 and advised that this approach was the best way to ensure a clean, steady water supply to the Heritage Building.

Leif Pederson, of Ghana Together, added his engineering expertise, and with local Axim workers, connected the tank to the building to provide water to showers, toilets, kitchen, and outside spigot.

Leif Pederson (the guy with the cap) and Axim workers figuring out how to get the water from the Axim water system up into the polytank back in 2009...

First they had to hook up the pipes

But that polytank just plain wore out, so our first priority project for 2016 was replace it, and provide ongoing clean water for the nearly 30 residents from Manye Academy Senior High School and their House Supervisors.

You get some VERY strong guys...to take down the old one and hoist up the new one...

And you get LOTS of expert advice from the ground level!!

And  you climb up there to hook everything up, and hope against hope...

Mission accomplished thanks to you, our fellow “investors”, and the Axim workers and supervision that pulled it off! The boarding students now have...SHOWERS, TOILETS, OUTSIDE WATER SPIGOT... 

And just so you know, the cost was about 2000 Ghana cedis, or about $550 US.

Boys' shower...girls have one on the second floor...

This kind of project is not flashy, but fills our mission of supporting mutually identified and agreed upon local needs.

A little background

The Manye Academy Senior High School is a new program offered by the long-time private Primary-Junior High School. It was established by Professor K. S. Nokoe, who has a PhD from the University of British Columbia! 

Years ago, to "give back" to his hometown of Axim, he established the Manye Academy. Professor Nokoe is now retired as Professor and Acting Dean of the School of Graduate Studies at the Ghanaian University of Energy and Natural Resources. He specializes in mathematics and statistics. 

Because the government of Ghana now provides tuition-free education through junior high, the number of students qualifying for senior high is growing rapidly. There are not enough slots. And so Prof. Nokoe moved to add slots!

Manye Academy Senior High is not private, but government-owned, and with classroom space and management provided by Manye Academy. For Ghana Education Department certification they had to have a dormitory for boarding students, and the Heritage Building is the perfect solution, being within easy walking distance of the classrooms! But a dormitory needs WATER---and so now they have it!!


For earlier News Updates, go to http://ghanatogether.blogspot.com/
Contact us: info@ghanatogether.org
Our website is: http://ghanatogether.org
Our mailing address is: Ghana Together, 808 Addison Place, Mount Vernon, WA 98273

by Ghana Together (noreply@blogger.com) at February 22, 2016 09:44 PM

February 17, 2016

ICT4D Views from the Field

Two Videos on SolarSPELL from Cal Poly’s Mustang News

Mustang News, the award-winning on-campus source for media about California Polytechnic State University, has released two videos about the SolarSPELL project.

The first video (above) gives an overview of the library and the project (up to now).

The second video covers the Appropriate Technology Workshop and Build Day that was held in October 2015, when Cal Poly students from across the campus came together and built 30 SolarSPELL libraries in one afternoon.


by ljhosman at February 17, 2016 01:43 AM

February 12, 2016

OLE Nepal

Process to get approvals to construct schools damaged by the earthquake

As we are getting ready to start constructing schools damaged by the earthquake in Gorkha district, we thought it’d be helpful to share the official process that we went through to secure all the approvals and paperwork. This might come handy to other organizations looking to build school buildings. Activity Location Detail What to get 1. Site survey, community meetings Schools Survey the location, take stock of the situation, meet with school management, teachers, parents…

by Rabi Karmacharya at February 12, 2016 12:14 PM

February 10, 2016

Project Rive: Reaching Students in Haiti

FAQ about the Student Org

Kids Write is recruiting new members! Here’s some info about us. What do you guys do? We partner with schools in Haiti. At each school, we train teachers to use tablets and laptops in their classroom for students to read, … Continue reading

by Sora at February 10, 2016 03:02 PM

February 08, 2016

Juan Chacon Free Software & Education | El Salvador

Text Processing and Unix History

Preparing for the RHCSA certification is turning out to be a heap of fun! Despite more than 20 years as a free software activist and personal user of GNU/Linux systems for all my personal computing, and despite being a computer science teacher during that same time, there are a wide range of basic Unix CLI skills that I only scratched the surface of in all that time (shame on me!).

Preparing for the RHCSA is providing the opportunity to address that deficit at long last.  Chapter 4 of the book we are using in class to study for the certification is titled "Working with Text Files". The most enjoyable thing about this investigation into Unix text file processing is the view it provides into Unix history.

In the beginning there was eded begat ex, and ex begat vi... Along the way we got cousins grep and sed too.  Since grep, sed, and vi are part of the Unix admin's toolset, I want to learn to use them at least well enough to be able to help prepare students (and myself) for the RHCSA certification and to be able to present them well to future students in my ITN 170: Linux System Administration class.

Since in the beginning there was ed, let me start with that.  I found a very nice blog post, Actually using ed, which I found to be a wonderful introduction to this tool.  I set myself the task of using ed to create a list of fruits in a file named fruits.txt.  The first thing I found out was that trying:
$ ed fruits.txt
did not create the file for me, instead returning a "No such file or directory" error.  So I did the following, which worked:
$ touch fruits.txt
$ ed fruits.txt
After that, I ran $ cat fruits.txt, and saw that everything was as I wanted it:
Now if I want an alphabetical listing of the fruits in my list, I can run:
$ grep berries fruits.txt | sort
and see this:
RegexOne is a nice, interactive tutorial for learning basic regular expressions.  I wanted to do all the exercises using grep on the command-line as well, and in the process setup a new github repo for resources related to our RHCSA study, here.

Next I wanted to learn sed.  Sed - An Introduction and Tutorial by Bruce Barnett is a wonderful tutorial.  With so much awful document out there, it is great to find something written by someone with a grasp of how people actually learn.

Using the fruits.txt file I created with ed, I ran $ sed s/berries/cherries/ fruits.txt and got:
Since sed uses the same substitution syntax that vim uses, learning it will be a big help in becoming a more effective vim user as well.

by jelkner (noreply@blogger.com) at February 08, 2016 06:10 PM

QGIS Delivers Functionality and Freedom

I am taking a graduate course this semester, GGS 553 - Geographic Information System, which is required for the Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Sciences program that I am hoping to complete.  I like the text book we are using for class, and greatly enjoyed the first lecture.  What I am not happy about is that the labs which will make up a large part of the course assignments require the use of proprietary software, specifically ArcGIS, and then by extension, the Windows operating system on which it runs.

I have been a free software activist for more than 20 years. Software for GIS makes it especially easy to state why I believe so strongly in software freedom. To put it simply, I believe software should be part of humanity's shared cultural heritage, and that all efforts to turn it instead into a commodity are immoral.

Installing ArcGIS made this painfully clear to me.  In the first place, using it required that I use a non-free operating system, so I am running Windows just so that I can use ArcGIS.  Going through the gymnastics (registering an on-line account, figuring out where to enter the product code after missing it the first time through the installation, etc.) required to establish that I was "authorized" to use the commidified resource was most unpleasant. It rubs me deeply the wrong way to see human creativity misspent making the world a worse place rather than a better one.

No matter.  I have to do it to complete this required course, so I am determined to make the best of it.  What that means to me is keeping in mind the well known quote from Sun Tzu,
"Know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles."
So I'll count learning ArcGIS as knowing my enemy, and time permitting, I will do each lab assignment in QGIS in parallel.

The first thing I wanted to do was to install the latest QGIS on my Ubuntu 14.04 desktop.  To do this, using this web page as a guide, I added the following to the end of my /etc/apt/sources.list file:

# For QGIS 2.12
deb http://qgis.org/ubuntugis trusty main
deb http://ppa.launchpad.net/ubuntugis/ubuntugis-unstable/ubuntu trusty main

Then I ran:
$ sudo apt-key adv --keyserver keyserver.ubuntu.com --recv-key 3FF5FFCAD71472C4
$ sudo aptitude update
$ sudo aptitude install qgis
This is a much easier process than installing ArcGIS. QGIS also runs much faster than ArcGIS, and on the operating system I choose, not the one chosen for me.

It also seems that the wonderful folks who have developed QGIS have modeled its UI after the non-free standard, so the lab notes describing ArcGIS helped me understand QGIS as well. QGIS's Browser is the equivalent of ArcGIS's ArcCatalog. Here is the QGIS Browser showing the shape files from my first lab:
The QGIS Desktop functions like ArcGIS's ArcMap.  Here is QGIS Desktop with my Lab 1 shapefiles in a map:
So far, so good.  I was able to answer all the lab questions using QGIS with the given data, and I learned new things about QGIS through doing the ArcGIS lab exercises.

by jelkner (noreply@blogger.com) at February 08, 2016 05:06 PM

January 21, 2016

Hands of Charity XO Project | Kenya

Imagine You Could Do This Too! African Friends

Hands of Charity and  Kenya Friends of Small Solutions
We could do this… join the movement, create fashion from ‘trash’!

View on Youtube:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z61Qi_0aIJc


by smallsolutionsbigideas at January 21, 2016 03:09 PM

January 14, 2016

Hands of Charity XO Project | Kenya

Poetry about Math & Imagination

by Loren Malaguzzi

The child is made of one hundred |The child has a hundred languages | a hundred hands | a hundred thoughts | a hundred ways of thinking, of playing, of speaking. | A hundred always a hundred | ways of listening | a marveling of loving | a hundred joys | for singing and understanding | a hundred worlds | to discover | a hundred worlds | to invent | a hundred worlds | to dream.

The child has a hundred languages | but the steal ninety nine. | The school and the culture separate the head from the body. | They tell the child: to think without hands | to do without heart  | to listen and not to speak | to understand without joy | to love and to marvel only at Easter and at Christmas, | they tell the child:  to discover the world already there | of a the hundred, they steal ninety-nine.  They tell the child: that work and play reality and fantasy | science and imagination | sky and earth  | reason and dream | are things | that do not belong together.  | And they tell the child that the hundred is not there | The child says | NO way, The hundred is there.

by smallsolutionsbigideas at January 14, 2016 06:23 PM

January 11, 2016

Project Rive: Reaching Students in Haiti

Pyramids, Mudcakes, and Other Scams

“I’m headed off to a meeting,” Bernadette tells me. “It’s a new program where you sell things, and you can also make money by enrolling other merchants.” Warning bells start going off in my head. “I’d like to hear more … Continue reading

by Sora at January 11, 2016 03:30 AM

January 08, 2016


OLPC SF 8th anniversary

OLPC San Francisco is eight years old! We will be hosting our monthly meeting Saturday, January 9th, from 10AM - 1PM at the downtown SFSU campus, 835 Market Street, 5th floor, Room 597 (the fishbowl).


  • Meet and greet
  • Sugar Labs Oversight Board elections
  • Projects for 2016
  • Party

Our meetings are held on the second Saturday of every month. Everyone is welcome to join us for our monthly meeting! We'll be discussing the latest in OLPC events and give updates on our local (and global) projects. There will be plenty of XO laptops with the latest builds to play around with, too.

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/events/168331340195295/
Google+ https://plus.google.com/events/c1p91s3tbo01jvp2irm9i35s6s8

by sverma at January 08, 2016 09:01 PM