Raspberry Pi in Masekelo: Bringing Wikipedia to a school without electricity

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Masekelo pi.jpg
Students in a Tanzanian high school without electricity can now access Wikipedia via Wi-Fi, using a donated Raspberry Pi computer. Photo by Janet Chapman, CC BY-SA 4.0.
The Masekelo secondary school in Tanzania’s Shinyanga region faces many challenges: there’s no electricity or water — each pupil needs to collect over a gallon of water each day and carry it to school. There were insufficient desks and chairs, many had to sit on the dirt floor — until Tanzania Development Trust gave them a grant in November 2014.

A Raspberry Pi serves Wikipedia via Wi-Fi to nearby phones or computers, using RACHEL server software. Photo by Janet Chapman, CC BY-SA 4.0.

The Tanzanian government has decreed that every secondary school must have science laboratories by the end of February. But no money was provided for this: funds are expected to come from parent contributions alone. This can be a challenge when your parents are subsistence farmers.
The school has few text books or resources — and a dire shortage of math and science teachers. The dedication of its headteacher and staff have led to the best results of any government school in the district.
When I visited the school in September 2014, the dynamic headteacher, Steve Mihambo, told me about his dream of a computer room — once they had power.
So I brought them a credit card-sized Raspberry Pi computer, powered by an external battery, with a 32GB SD card — and content downloaded from World Possible. This includes the Wikipedia for Schools edition, 2,000 math and science videos from Khan Academy, and 800 classic books and various health resources. A Wi-Fi stick in the Raspberry Pi allows any nearby smartphone, tablet or laptop to access all this content.
I demonstrated this to the teachers and school board on 5 tablets and a couple smart phones I brought as a donation. They were astounded. “It’s like a miracle”, said the board chair. “Now we are in the 21st century”, added a teacher. I’ve stayed in regular contact with the school via WhatsApp, and they tell me the students are very excited to have access to all this new content.
You can follow the progress of this project, and the school in general, on their Facebook Page.
If you would like to know more, or have an tablet or laptop you’d like to donate to a good cause, please email me at j.chapman at tanzdevtrust.org .
Janet Chapman, Communications Manager, Tanzania Development Trust
This blog post is part of a series about Offline Wikipedia. It was originally published on Hiara, a blog about empowering girls. Minor edits were made by WMF staff to clarify a few terms for the Wikimedia blog.

Archive notice: This is an archived post from blog.wikimedia.org, which operated under different editorial and content guidelines than Diff.

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That is awesome! A solar panel can help to recharge the battery and have a semi-permanent wifi hotspot.

How are you contacting over WhatsApp? They don’t have live-internet, do they?

Well it can be role model all over the under developed countries to familiarize their students with latest technology

cool article

truly amazing technology

this is co cool!!!

«Find out how a generous donation is bringing this school into the 21st century» seems a bit excessive for me. The main advancement here is having electricity (19th century), but they only got a battery?

awesome stuff!!

its great to know
Thanks 🙂

This is great innovation, they need more funding to make it available for every school without electricity

Amazing stuff

Very cool article.

This is great innovation, they need more funding to make it available for every school without electricity

Very interesting, your idea is awesome and inspiring, continue to help in education, thank’s for share.

thanks for sharing!