we build software to span your digital divide
Home Blog Partners Technology Wiki Jobs About Us Contact
Front Page Article Discussion Edit This Page History New Article All Markup

Actual Progress in the ECSPIRT Project

Contents

  1 Current Progress (27/01/2009)
    1.1 Meetings in Europe
  2 Current Progress (24/02/2009)
    2.1 Third ECSPIRT Training Trip
  3 Current Progress (26/03/2009)
    3.1 Our first volunteer
    3.2 First concrete developments in the Village Scribe Project
    3.3 Further develpoments in the Community Project
    3.4 Successful Schoolnet Training Course
    3.5 The Kundenprojekt of the FU Berlin and the VSA valued by the South African Ambassy in Berlin
    3.6 Photosession for SolarWorld solar panels
  4 Current Progress (22/04/2009)
    4.1 Fourth ECSPIRT Training Trip (25-27/03/09)
    4.2 awareNet Presentation at teachers class at the Rhodes University (08/04/09)
    4.3 First use of awareNet in South Africa and Germany
  5 Current Progress (30/06/2009)
    5.1 SAFIPA Conference in Pretoria (08/06-10/06/2009)
    5.2 Free University of Berlin Kundenprojekt Web-Technologies
    5.3 Completion of internship
  6 Current Progress (31/07/2009)
    6.1 Closing Ceremony of the Kundenprojekt Web-Technologies
    6.2 Meeting with the Phorms Group
  7 Current Progress (28/08/2009)
    7.1 The course Kundenprojekt Web-Technologies receives award
    7.2 Possible cooperation with the University of Applied Sciences of Berlin
    7.3 Possible awareNet participation in a virtual school in Finland
    7.4 Grahamstown township needs used digital cameras for awareNet
  8 Current progress (30/10/09)
    8.1 Good use for your membership fee: Thozamile „Thozi“ Enock Ngeju
    8.2 First camera donation for the Grahamstown township
    8.3 Possible Travel Funding by BMBF and NRF
    8.4 Meeting with SAGE Net e.V. for volunteer work opportunities
    8.5 The fifth ECSPIRT Training Trip by Ron Wertlen (19/10-21/10)
  9 Current progress (19/11/09)
    9.1 Our new community coordinator for Grahamstown Mr. Ngeju describes his work
    9.2 Our community coordinator for Nkwalini Mr. Msindwana extends his operating range
    9.3 Local instance of awareNet is online in Grahamstown
  10 Current progress (23/12/09)
    10.1 The VSA website in 3 languages!
    10.2 Our community coordinator for Grahamstown Mr Ngeju describes his work
    10.3 Working visit by Siphiwo Msindwana (8/12-14/12/09)
    10.4 More camera donations for the ECSPIRT Project
    10.5 Local instance of awareNet moved onto a new server
    10.6 Visit by Finnish delegation on the fringe of SANORD Conference

1 Current Progress (27/01/2009)

1.1 Meetings in Europe

In December, the VSA really got a lot of impetus from our trip to Europe. Here is an overview of the meetings that occurred in December in Europe. They all have confirmed our feeling that there is great interest in the projects and ideas of the VSA and that we have the possibility of turning this potential into benefits for communities in South Africa, initially, and hopefully for all in the time to come.

Sint-Agatha-Rode, Belgium, 4 Dec 2008

  • Village Scribe Association foundation meeting - The statutes were adopted and the meeting was a success. The Association will be registered officially in January 2009. It was great to have so many of us together and there was a great enthusiasm and optimism about the future of the Association. That optimism seems to be warranted as the further meetings showed.
  • Attendees: Ronald Wertlen (VSA, eKhaya ICT), HE Judge Christoph Flügge (UN ICTY), Dr. Anna Wertlen (VSA, eKhaya ICT), Amanda McPhail (VSA), Dr. Jan Baekelandt (VSA)

Berlin, Germany, 8 Dec 2008

  • Meeting with the neofonie GmbH - A very successful meeting in which the company pledged server space and support in developing software. Strategically, there are several opportunities as the company is wishing to create a charity portal to assist non-profits, in which VSA could play a significant role.
  • Attendees: Uwe Fasold (neofonie CFO), Nurhan Yildirim (neofonie COO), Ronald Wertlen (VSA, eKhaya ICT)

Berlin, Germany, 9 Dec 2008

  • Meeting with the Phorms group of companies and schools - Phorms is a group of companies specializing in modern innovative school management and school mgmt services. Founded in 2005 by biotechnology millionaire Alexander Olek, the group comprises 7 schools and 5 management companies including a non-profit focused on Africa. Part of the agenda of the schools is exchange programmes with disadvantaged schools in Africa.
  • The Phorms school in Berlin definitely wants to take part in the ECSPIRT project.
  • Further, the VSA will be taken up in the SchulEngel.de donation portal.
  • Attendees: Christine Werthman (Director Phorms Africa), Isabel Korch (Manager InPhorms), Richard Hengelbrok (Principal Phorms Mitte) , Ronald Wertlen (VSA, eKhaya ICT)

Berlin, Germany, 10 Dec 2008

  • Meeting with the Free University of Berlin - Firm agreement was reached on the participation of the Village Scribe Association and eKhaya ICT in the "Kundenprojekt"; (Customer Project) Masters (Diplom) programme of the University. 20 students will be available from the 15th of April 2009 to tackle software solutions for problems posed by the customer (VSA). eKhaya ICT will perform as project manager where information from and regarding awareNet is concerned. The project focus of the students has just been specified and agreed to by the FUB. The students may also split up and work on two problems: the user interface for awareNet and semantic technology for processing of awareNet chats, blogs and user edited content. It was made clear that the intention is to produce working modules that make an impact. Teleworking will be an additional bonus effect for the students as will the social participation aspect.
  • Attendees: Robert Tolksdorf (FU Professor and HOD), Malgorzatha Mochol (FU Researcher) , Ronald Wertlen (VSA, eKhaya ICT)

Helsinki, Finnland, 12 Dec 2008

  • Meeting with the Helsinki School of Economics (HSE) - CKIR (Centre for Knowledge and Innovation Research - Evaluation of VSA participation in the European Network of Living Labs via the Siyakhula Living Lab to synchronise efforts among all role players. Many tips were given on how to make the ECSPIRT Project really work sustainably within an innovation framework. The path that we are going with ECSPIRT was also confirmed as a good way to proceed, with respect to involvement of the community, taking small steps and thinking strategically. It was a very abstract high-level meeting focusing on cooperation with CKIR and significant strategic synergetic opportunities were decided upon which could result in funding opportunities.
  • Attendees: Patrizia Hongisto (CKIR, Researcher), Aki Enkenberg (COFISA), Saija Kulkki (CKIR Director) , Ronald Wertlen (VSA, eKhaya ICT)

Lucerne, Switzerland, 15 Dec 2008

  • Meeting with the Oberstufenzentrum Tribschen - The school agreed to participate in the ECSPIRT Project using the awareNet software. The IT teacher, Mr. Rast, is also a member of the VSA.
  • Attendees: Martin Rast (ICT Teacher), Marie-Therese Luc (Principal), Grade 10 (20 students), Ronald Wertlen (VSA, eKhaya ICT)

Munich, Germany, 17 Dec 2008

  • Meeting with the Waldorf School Schwabing - 36 students put down their email addresses to take part in the ECSPIRT Project. Now, the pressure is really on to get awareNet versions out and to get the children communicating online by February.
  • Attendees: Stephan Flügge (Senior Teacher), Grade 9 to 12 (110 students), Ronald Wertlen (VSA, eKhaya ICT)

Berlin, Germany,18 Dec 2008

  • Meeting with the Technical University of Berlin - The database group is working on optimising database queries in such a way that power consumption is reduced. This could be useful in a rural data centre running on solar power. However that is a very futuristic application as the amounts of data processing required before gains become significant are not present in rural applications at the moment.
  • Attendees: Alexander Loeser (TU Researcher), Ronald Wertlen (VSA, eKhaya ICT)

Berlin, Germany, 19 Dec 2008

  • Meeting with Sandra and Helmut Hoffer von Ankershoffen - Sandra Hoffer von Ankershoffen is going to be working on a new commercial aid project and wants to perform aid work prior to setting out on her venture. We managed to convince her, that she can use her skills as an IT product manager and quality assessor better by volunteering for VSA and eKhaya ICT, than she can by volunteering for some other unknown entity. >From about Mid-March Sandra will be in the Eastern Cape and will be helping out with the ECSPIRT project. We are very excited about her involvement and welcome her to the team. Additionally she has agreed to try to liaise with the Phorms School in Berlin where assistance is required.
  • Attendees: Sandra Hoffer von Ankershoffen (neofonie), Helmut Hoffer von Ankershoffen (neofonie CEO), Anna Wertlen (VSA, eKhaya ICT), Ronald Wertlen (VSA, eKhaya ICT)

2 Current Progress (24/02/2009)

2.1 Third ECSPIRT Training Trip

Ronald Wertlen from eKhaya ICT visited the schools in Tafelahash on the 28.1. - 30.1.2009:

  • Everything is going well at the schools and they survived the holidays well!
  • Congratulations! Our new communication and education software awareNet was installed on the computers in Tafelahash and used for the first time by the learners!
  • We are still struggling to find the right solution to Internet. On this trip, Mr Wertlen installed the two wireless routers, one with each cell phone provider (NTM and Vodafone), and a high-gain antenna. He also setup the network, so that the server can be updated. This is necessary for the awareNet software and so that several computers at each school are able to use the Internet directly. At the moment these are only for the teachers.
  • Mr Wertlen talked to Mr Yovo about the state of the lab and school. Everything is satisfactory. It seems Mr Yovo is replacing Mr Mamane as second champion.


Herr Yovo

  • Mr Wertlen did an analysis of the VSAT (antenna) at the trading store opposite the school. The quality is as good as the GSM /mobile solutions, but it is more expensive. We'll have to wait and see how the stability compares - VSAT would be extremely stable.
  • A digital camera and computer club training session was held. Mr Wertlen taught the learners how to use the digital camera and awareNet and how to blog. It was great fun!


Einige Schüler des Computer Clubs

  • Mr Wertlen met the new deputy-principal at Bafazi Mr Zed. Mr Zed speaks some German as he followed university courses. He is very young and motivated to make Bafazi the best junior school in the area. He is of course very excited about awareNet. However, the time together with him was very limited, so we hope to have a chance to speak at length with him next time.
  • Mr Yankey, the IT teacher was in Johannesburg in December (9.-12.12.) at a SchoolNet training course for SchoolNet certified trainers. He learnt how to train community trainers and will be applying this knowledge on our community trainers, Mr Siphiwo Msindwana and Mrs Veliswa Xakaza.
  • Community project: Siphiwo Msindwana is the leader of the community effort, and has the support of the tribal chief Mr Ngonyama. Mr Msindwana (35 yrs) gathered a lot of experience in Johannesburg working as an office worker with computers at hotels and in business. He proved once again that his computer knowledge is deep, sent emails without assistance, did impromptu tutoring. His drive and engagement is very high and admirable. At the moment he is a volunteer and is trying to get together a base of learners that will enable him to create a company based on ICTs at Tafelahash. He also has a volunteer assistant, Mrs Xakaza, whose knowledge is a bit rusty. She has a N4 qualification: Financial Accounting, Computer Practice, Management Communications, Entrepreneurship and Bus Management. She did her studies from '98 to '99. The teachers are very interested in the community effort and the principal supports the use of the computer facility by the community.

3 Current Progress (26/03/2009)

3.1 Our first volunteer


Sandra Hoffer von Ankershoffen

Sandra Hoffer von Ankershoffen has arrived to begin an internship for the Village Scribe Association. Sandra has gained her experience in the Internet industry in Berlin as a Product Manager and Quality Assurance Manager. Born in Starnberg, near Munich, she studied Marketing and Communication. The last four years she worked for the neofonie GmbH in Berlin, a software developing company which produces - among other - search engines, community software and mobile services. She worked as a project assistant and a quality manager, building up a testing team and being responsible to implement a quality management system within the DIN EN ISO 9000:2000 Norm. Further, she worked as a Product Manager for the project „TIMM Online 2008“ being responsible for the set up of a product concept and supervision of the development for a new gay tv channel. We are very lucky to have her here, and hope that we will be able to make good use of her qualities in the time that she is here. We are also hoping that she will carry the VSA flag back to Berlin and keep the international connections alive.

Her hopes for this internship are, as she says herself: „I decided to come to south Africa and work for the VSA because I want to get in contact with the poor world and see the rural and developing areas myself. So I hope to abolish my subjective prejudice and get a clearer view to the world. I want to learn what kind of help is useful for the developing world so that I can take my new knowledge back to Berlin and maybe build my own business with the focus on helping the poor.“

3.2 First concrete developments in the Village Scribe Project

First development by eKhaya ICT for the Village Scribe community programme is going to be developed between now and August or September 2009. The developers, two Informations Systems Honours students Kagiso Komane and Dale Singh, are working on a group project under the direction of the Rhodes University and eKhaya ICT. (Kagiso Kumane is also partially financed by eKhaya ICT.)


von links: NN, Mvelile Ngonyama (lokaler Stammeshäuptling), Ronald Wertlen und Siphiwo Msindwana

Their projects are on “Real e-Services for Rural Development”: the idea is to piece together exisiting e-commerce and m-commerce B2C solutions for simple use by a rural telecentre operator. The Village Scribe Association is assisting with the release of the software, which should help Siphiwo Msindwana, the leader of the community project and first future village scribe, to improve the service offering to the community beyond computer training. The VSA will be evaluating the technology and community acceptance in accordance with its charter.

3.3 Further develpoments in the Community Project

Siphiwo Msindwana, the leader of the community project and first future village scribe, has begun training community members interested in learning about computers at the school in the afternoons in accordance with the agreements made with the school in February. Small classes of up to 5 learners have been exploring computer usage.

3.4 Successful Schoolnet Training Course

Mr. Yankey, who has been promoted to Deputy-Principal at Zwelenqaba SSS was at a Schoolnet trainer training course in Johannesburg between the 8th and 13th of December 2008. His trip was funded from the ECSPIRT funds. He came back positively influenced by the training and very keen to begin implementing what he learned at the school. He will also be assisting Siphiwo Msindwana to improve his skills.

3.5 The Kundenprojekt of the FU Berlin and the VSA valued by the South African Ambassy in Berlin

The ambassador of the Rep of South Africa in Germany, Eddie Funde, has agreed to a request by the VSA to host the closing ceremony of Kundenprojekt, on the 15th of July 2009. In the ceremony, the software to be developed by the Freie Universität Berlin will be handed over to the Village Scribe Association. Members of the VSA are invited to attend the ceremony. Time to be confirmed.

3.6 Photosession for SolarWorld solar panels

The Zwelenqaba school was featured in a photo shoot for SolarWorld solar panels. We hope that the school will gain access to some of the beautiful photographs made by the marketing team (which was by the way from Berlin, e.g. Sandra Schuck).

4 Current Progress (22/04/2009)

4.1 Fourth ECSPIRT Training Trip (25-27/03/09)

  • We introduced the ECSPIRT Project, the Village Scribe Project and the people taking part in it to our new intern Sandra Hoffer von Ankershoffen. She studied the project and the people thoroughly and is now working on a plan to improve our education and communication software awareNet by applying her quality and product management skills.
  • Very impressive organisation has been instituted by the Zwelenqaba School and Siphiwo Msindwana, the leader of the community project. Mr Msindwana is now training scholars between 3 and 5pm in two groups. This is the continuation of the computer club in a sense. The school will have to ask the scholars soon to make a financial contribution to pay Mr Msindwana.
  • An adult class is also taking place every day between 5 and 7pm. Between 15 and 20 community members participate and many more want to join the training by our first village scribe Mr Msindwana. Even the teachers are interested to enhance their skills.
  • The wireless signal needs to be improved at the Kwantshunqe School. Now that there is Internet there too, the signal is too poor in the admin block. The cause of the problem is a poor quality access point which is mounted very far from the admin block. The WiFi equipment must be moved which can be done on the next trip.
  • We have improved monitoring of the Internet connection so that we can start improving the quality of the Internet so that more scholars can be online at a time, e.g. to use awareNet.
  • SolarWorld is offering to install small solar power installations and TV sets for the Soccer World Cup at various public places in the communities. The community gets to keep the installations afterwards, and we are hoping to electrify several community buildings in this way, as well as making the community part of the World Cup 2010!

4.2 awareNet Presentation at teachers class at the Rhodes University (08/04/09)

Ron Wertlen and Richard Strickland from eKhaya ICT and Sandra Hoffer von Ankershoffen presented awareNet in front of 10 teachers from various Eastern Cape schools. The teachers are registered part-time students at Rhodes University improving their qualification. Many come from impoverished schools. They are very hopeful that technology can help with their problems. Some comments from them:

  • awareNet can help the children, who are second language English speakers, to finally write something and to express themselves. This would surely carry over into their abilities in class.
  • Writing is not the only problem, awareNet can help in arousing interest in reading too! Often the learners are not interested enough in reading, but this can help.
  • Learners often find Shakespeare's sonnet no. X boring, but when they are online, talking to someone far away, suddenly something like Shakespeare's sonnet no. X, can become very interesting.

4.3 First use of awareNet in South Africa and Germany

Two schools, the Zwelenqaba SSS in Tafalehash and the Waldorf School Schwabing in Munich, are taking part in the beta testing of our education and communication software awareNet. Several technical and usability problems have arose, e.g. the chat mechanism and the organisation of the website. We are busily working on them and hoping to soon release awareNet version 1.0. Professional userbility tests under the direction of Mrs Hoffer von Ankershoffen with teachers and scholars are planned.

5 Current Progress (30/06/2009)

5.1 SAFIPA Conference in Pretoria (08/06-10/06/2009)

Ronald Wertlen pitched the awareNet concept to industry, government and academia. He got good feedback from the Shuttleworth Foundation and SAFIPA on the concept and how to maximise use. It seems that the ICT innovation industry is starting to grow in South Africa, finally, and the SAFIPA Conference was an excellent platform to unite these disparate efforts. The emphasis of the conference was on mobile applications. Many of these applications had a development aspect to them. There were also very interesting projects that VSA could support in the future, e.g. Marlon Parker's mobile chatting support for rehabilitated gangsters in the townships. This technology should also be interesting to the Masimanyane Woman Support Centre and other NGOs.

5.2 Free University of Berlin Kundenprojekt Web-Technologies


Der Image Uploader (screen shot)

The cooperation project Kundenprojekt Web-Technologies between the Village Scribe Association, eKhaya ICT and the Free University of Berlin (Computer Science Institute, Group on Networked Information Systems) is making great progress owing to motivated and technically skilled students. The third milestone in the programming work for awareNet was reached by the computer science students: They developed working prototypes of the application software Image Uploader and Analysis Server. The former is functionally complete and needs only minor adjustments. The latter will be continued in another Kundenprojekt cycle.

Announcement: The closing event of the Kundenprojekt at which the Image Uploader will be handed over to the VSA and eKhaya ICT will take place on Wednesday the 15/07/2009 at 10:45 am at the South African Ambassy in Berlin. The education and communication software awareNet and the programming work of the students will be presented, the VSA and eKhaya ICT will hand over awards and the counsellor of the South African Ambassy Mr Ismail Esau will give a speech, followed by refreshments and the opportunity to get more inside information and to make personal contacts and/or future plans with the participants of the project. All members of the VSA are welcome to join the event!

5.3 Completion of internship

Sandra Hoffer von Ankershoffen completed her internship at the Village Scribe Association. Her tasks were:

  • product management for awareNet and product comparison with facebook and MySpace,
  • trip to Zwelenqaba SSS, discussion with teachers and demonstration of awareNet to individual teachers,
  • and development of fashion concept based strongly in South Africa, with a rural component which is applicable to SLL and VSA.

We are very happy with her work and her independent motivation and we are inspired by her new perpective and would like to thank her whole-heartedly for taking part.

If you are also interested or know someone who is interested in an internship, please contact us.

6 Current Progress (31/07/2009)

6.1 Closing Ceremony of the Kundenprojekt Web-Technologies

The cooperation project Kundenprojekt Web-Technologies between the Village Scribe Association, eKhaya ICT and the Free University of Berlin (Computer Science Institute, Group on Networked Information Systems) has been completed very successfully thanks to the efforts of the motivated and technically skilled students. The computer science students developed the application software Image Uploader and a working prototype of the Analysis Server, which will be continued in another Kundenprojekt cycle. (Soon to be available to the public.)

The closing event of the Kundenprojekt at which the products were handed over to the VSA and eKhaya ICT took place on Wednesday the 15/07/2009 at 10:45 am at the South African Ambassy in Berlin. The counsellor of the South African Ambassy Mr Ismail Esau gave an optimistic and encouraging speech about the nature of cooperation between nations and the positive effects of development work. The education and communication software awareNet and the programming work of the students were presented, and the VSA and eKhaya ICT handed over certificates to the students. During lunch, kindly catered by the SA Embassy, the succeeding Kundenprojekt cycles were planned together with Prof. Robert Tolksdorf, Dr. Malgorzata Mochol, Philipp Cordes and our special guest Gerald Kleser (SAP Research, France).

6.2 Meeting with the Phorms Group

Dr. Anna Wertlen and Ronald Wertlen met with Anna Thinius (Phorms Africa e.V.) and Isabel Korch (InPhorms GmbH) from the [http://www.phorms.de/ Phorms Group of Schools] in Berlin on the 22nd of July to introduce awareNet and to assist with their Kenyan school project.

7 Current Progress (28/08/2009)

7.1 The course Kundenprojekt Web-Technologies receives award

The practical course Kundenprojekt Web-Technologies at the Free University of Berlin (a cooperation project between the Computer Science Institute - Group on Networked Information Systems (NBI), the Village Scribe Association and eKhaya ICT) has been voted by the students of the NBI as best course of the summer semester 2009. Congratulations!

7.2 Possible cooperation with the University of Applied Sciences of Berlin

Ronald Wertlen had a meeting with Professor Thomas Schwotzer (Applied Computer Science, e.g. mobile solutions, P2P, semantic web, iPhone, social networks etc.). There is a good potential to get additional students to work on technical aspects of awareNet. We will keep you posted about further developments.

[http://www.htw-berlin.de Read more about the University of Applied Sciences (HTW)]

7.3 Possible awareNet participation in a virtual school in Finland

Ronald Wertlen had a meeting with SOMETU, a network of persons interested in spreading Social Media (all forms of digital social networking), especially in the interest of promoting elearning, democracy and the formation of strong civic groups. Many members of SOMETU are teachers, which does underline the elearning aspect. One of the founders of SOMETU, Ville Venäläinen, runs a virtual school, which has now 500 students and exists completely online. We hope that this school too might join awareNet, in context of learning English.

[http://sometu.ning.com/profile/RonaldWertlen Read more about SOMETU]

7.4 Grahamstown township needs used digital cameras for awareNet

The Village Scribe Association will in the near future introduce awareNet in the Grahamstown township. To help spread awareNet and make the content richer, we would like to ask Village Scribe friends and members, if they could gather used, working digital cameras for our township project.

You can drop them off at Sophie-Charlotte-Str. 5 in Berlin-Zehlendorf, from where they will be sent to South Africa. Kindly note: The camera should come with the charging device and battery. The original camera packaging is not necessary.

We thank you in advance for any donated cameras!

8 Current progress (30/10/09)

8.1 Good use for your membership fee: Thozamile „Thozi“ Enock Ngeju


Thozamile Ngeju

Since October 2009, Thozamile Ngeju is working for the VSA as a community coordinator (champion) to introduce awareNet into South African schools, starting with schools in the Grahamstown township Rhini. He brings with him indigenous knowledge and local expertise. His duties are: make contact to the teachers and headmasters, present awareNet to the scholars, motivate them to use it regularly, connect different schools, start projects in awareNet, translate various texts from English into Xhosa, give the developers (eKhaya ICT) feedback from the scholars, develop new ideas and much more. He has a part time job at eKhaya ICT that is funded by the VSA. Your membership fee and all other donations so far go directly into Mr. Ngeju’s salary, eKhaya ICT does not take any administration fees.

If you are a potential member and are hesitating to become an official member, please take heart from Mr. Ngeju’s work, support him and pay your membership fee today!

8.2 First camera donation for the Grahamstown township

Dr. Abel from Germany donated his old camera just in time for Mr. Ngeju to put it to good use in the Grahamstown township. The VSA has started introducing awareNet in the Grahamstown township, namely at Benjamin Mahlasela High School and Nathaniel Nyaluza Secondary School. awareNet will be presented to the scholars in the first week of November by Mr. Ngeju, and the scholars can start straight away taking pictures and putting them into awareNet. If you also want to help spread awareNet and help Africa represent itself in the Internet through rich content, you can gather used, working digital cameras and send them to us.

We thank you in advance for any donated cameras!

8.3 Possible Travel Funding by BMBF and NRF

Two German (Free University of Berlin (FUB) and University of Applied Sciences in Berlin (HTWB)) and two South African Universities (Rhodes University and University of Fort Hare) applied for funding from the NRF and the BMBF (German equivalent) to follow-on from the success with the FUB student project earlier this year to increase collaboration, including the HTWB, in an academic network for ICT4D. Basically this means that Rhodes and FUB researchers will be able to travel back and forth, give workshops, lectures and broaden international exchange. This proposal builds on the effort of the VSA early in 2009. If it happens it will further benefit awareNet and promote Virtual Volunteering.

8.4 Meeting with SAGE Net e.V. for volunteer work opportunities

Anna and Ron Wertlen met with Claus-Bernhard Pakleppa from [http://www.sage-net.org/ SAGE Net e.V.], the South African German Network. SAGE Net is an umbrella organisation of various South African and German individuals and organisations who facilitate and support non-profit and sustainable development in both countries. They engage in exchange programmes for youth and professionals that take place in both countries and create stable and flexible partnerships within a coordinated network. The VSA was given the opportunity to apply as one of the participating organisations that can advertise for volunteers through the „Weltwaerts“-Progamme by SAGE Net.

Read more:

8.5 The fifth ECSPIRT Training Trip by Ron Wertlen (19/10-21/10)

Community training at Zwelenqaba within the ECSPIRT and VSA Projects - students in grades 11 and 12 were trained on the computers by Mr. Siphiwo Msindwana, our first village scribe, and Mrs. Veliswa Xakaza, his assistent. The students will be examined on their knowledge at the end of November, after their regular school examinations. Courses are running satisfactorily. Mrs. Xakaza started doing a lot of teaching while Mr. Msindwana had to be in Johannesburg, but needs more support. Students are also making contributions to the computer classes and teach each other, and the community is gathering money to keep the trainers at work. From this month, Mr. Msindwana will be receiving a salary from the Siyakhula Living Lab Management Unit (SiLLMU) funds, which will improve matters. Additionally, Mr. Msindwana got a netbook (EEE PC) from the SILLMU project. Long battery life and low power was the deciding factor. He can use it at home and charge at the school.

The locally installed version of awareNet at the schools in Tafalehashi was upgraded. awareNet is installed on a local server, because the Internet is slow and expensive. The next version will possibly synchronise with the European version (www.awareNet.eu) overnight. We will try and make a deal with the mobile service provider to get a better price at night.


Der ESKOM Strommast steht direkt hinter der Solaranlage.

The community has decided to accept ESKOM (national electricity provider) into a separate circuit at the school. This means that for the meantime, all computer equipment and office equipment will be solar powered, but things like fridges, stoves etc. will be powered by the grid, possibly from February 2010. SELF - the owner of the solar panels - is still deciding a course of action in this regard.

The Internet is working much more stably now. It seems that the mobile service providers have increased infrastructure (masts) in the area since the project began.

The Tafalehashi trading store is interested in the eServices and the Village Scribe Project. They might in the future support another village scribe on their premises.

Soccer World Cup 2010: The community TV set project is going ahead. We would like to invite students of ethnology or anthropology from Germany to apply for research by sending us a short letter and a CV endorsed by your professor to take part in the project, starting before the World Cup 2010. We are hoping to get funding from SolarWorld for part of the expenses for this project. Your letter will help secure the funding.

9 Current progress (19/11/09)

9.1 Our new community coordinator for Grahamstown Mr. Ngeju describes his work

“As community coordinator it has, so far been a privilege to work for the VSA. We have approached and received warm welcome from three schools: Mary Waters, Nathaniel Nyaluza and Benjamin Mahlasela – all are secondary schools. Because of the time of the year [end of year examinations] it’s a bit of challenge for the educators to commit the learners.

Benjamin Mahlasela Grade 9 & 10 learners have, however, started using awareNet successfully. We are greatly encouraged by their enthusiasm. The camera is very useful in capturing all the exciting experiences we come across.

I am also translating the VSA website into isiXhosa, which is a very welcome challenge.”

9.2 Our community coordinator for Nkwalini Mr. Msindwana extends his operating range

Mr. Msindwana is also working actively for the Siyakhula Living Lab now. He assists M. Dalvit from the Education Department of the Rhodes University in giving workshops for teachers at Dwesa, a rural area near Nkwalini, in the Eastern Cape with several school computer labs that are supported by the Rhodes University.

Mr. Msindwana will be working together with Mr. Ngeju in November working with the Grahamstown schools and speeding awareNet adoption there. He will take this knowledge back to Nkwalini and Dwesa with him.

9.3 Local instance of awareNet is online in Grahamstown

One of the most important features of our educational software awareNet is that it can run on a local server and does not use Internet bandwidth while the learners are using it. This saves the schools a lot of money. The schools in Grahamstown can use awareNet now locally and synchronise it overnight with the European version (www.awareNet.eu) when Rhodes University provides a cost free Internet service for the schools.

As the schools begin to work more with awareNet new features and content will continue to appear more and more frequently.

10 Current progress (23/12/09)

10.1 The VSA website in 3 languages!

Thanks to Thozi Ngeju who did long hours of translations, we can proudly announce the release of the [http://www.villagescribe.org Village Scribe Association’s website] in three languages: English, isiXhosa and German. This is a great advantage for our members and participating learners in our projects as many of them only speak rudimentary English. That way, learners and other interested persons understand more of our projects’ background and detail and are more likely to join which in return will enhance their English speaking capabilities.

10.2 Our community coordinator for Grahamstown Mr Ngeju describes his work

“Progressing from November, December has been a wonderful learning experience for me. We worked further with the schools. The learners sacrificed some of the time which they had free due to them finishing exams and attended awareNet classes. We’re very grateful to them.

However, we were looking forward to working with community labs helping all those who needed us with assistance. This, unfortunately, could not be due to tight schedules of those we were to partner with. Next year should be better - we hope.

Siphiwo Msindwana, from the former Transkei, also paid us a visit to get acquainted more with awareNet. He expressed enthusiasm and seemed impressed.

On a personal level, I learnt a little about iWeb. This is one of the reasons I appreciate my work with eKhaya ICT and for the VSA - to be able to expand my mental horizons. Happy holidays to everyone out there.”

10.3 Working visit by Siphiwo Msindwana (8/12-14/12/09)

Mr Msindwana travelled to Grahamstown for the week. The aim of the visit was to finally meet the rest of the Village Scribe crew, the Siyakhula Living Lab crew and to sign a contract with the SiLLMU. (As reported earlier in the newsletter 5-2009, Mr Msindwana is being paid a small wage by the SiLLMU for his work.)

10.4 More camera donations for the ECSPIRT Project

The VSA could so far collect six digital cameras for the use within the ECSPIRT Project and awareNet. Additional donations were made by Ullrich von Bramann from Brunswick, Dr Eva Hert and Dr Walter Hert from Munich and Christine Nesbitt-Hills from Grahamstown. We are very grateful and excited by the generosity and fast response. Thank you very much!

10.5 Local instance of awareNet moved onto a new server

Thanks to Richard Strickland, the instance of awareNet hosted in Grahamstown was moved onto a new server and simultaneously, a new DNS name (www.awarenet.org.za) was assigned. Learners no longer have to type the old address which was long and difficult to remember.

10.6 Visit by Finnish delegation on the fringe of SANORD Conference

The SANORD Conference was held at Rhodes University from 7/12-9/12/09. A delegation from Joensuu University who are all part of Prof Erkki Sutinen's group, working on ICT4D, visited Mr Wertlen to find out about the work of the Rhodes Centre of Excellence. They are, Prof Matti Meri (University of Tanzania), Dr Andres Moreno and Dr Tuomo Kakkonen. Their visit coincided with an awareNet training session. They visited Nathaniel Nyaluza for the last awareNet training session of 2009. Four learners were present and working on their projects and social networks. The delegation interviewed Joy Turyagwenda, the Nyaluza champion (who is moving to University of the North West next year). Dr Kakkonen was very interested in the concept for his work with computer literacy training in Zambia, where Internet concepts are taught at places that don't have Internet access. A remote awareNet instance, with synchronisation capabilities can be very useful in such a setting. This is something that the Village Scribe will follow up in 2010.

Current Progress in the ECSPIRT Project in 2010 >>

Initiation of the ECSPIRT Project in 2008 >>

The fundamental idea of the ECSPIRT Training Programme and awareNet >>

back to the main page of the Village Scribe Association >>





Title: Actual Progress in the ECSPIRT Project
UID: 115627074051704605
Created On: 2011-04-08 13:26:37
Created By: Ron Wertlen
Revisions: 1

Ron Wertlen
by: Ron Wertlen
on: 2011-04-08 13:32:09
for: Importing article
[show revision >>]


eKhaya ICT is an Eastern Cape based software company, specialising in quality solutions and software components of ICT4D.

Contact:
9 Florence Street
Grahamstown
6139
South Africa
Tel: +27 79 4354681
Fax: +27 46 6227507
www: ekhayaict.com
Products:
awarenet
Discontinued:
Reed House Systems
Site Links:
About Us
Jobs
Contact
Admin
Log out



--- (c) 2014, eKhaya ICT ---