Offline WikiFundi closes the digital divide

The Offline editing solution is now available in Spanish, English and French

For most people reading this, being online has become an integral part of our lives. It is how we function, work, communicate, collaborate, and connect to our families, friends, communities, and colleagues. 

Yet nearly 37% of the global population is not connected at all. For most people, being offline is a mild inconvenience, but for these 2.9 billion people it is their daily reality as the digitally excluded. 

The connectivity canyon

A child in Cameroon reads WikiFundi as part of the WikiChallenge Ecoles d’Afrique annual article drive. Pic: Geugeor 

In early 2022, 95% of the world is covered by mobile broadband. However, due to the expense of data, devices, lack of skills, lack of content, etc., only 1/3rd of the global population chooses to access the internet via mobile broadband coverage. The 5% lack of coverage affects the most vulnerable in developing countries, such as nearly 30% of the rural population of Africa that has no mobile broadband coverage. 

These 2021 statistics from the ITU reveal what they term a “connectivity ‘grand canyon’” separating the digitally empowered from the digitally excluded. In 2021 it was estimated that 96% of the 2.9 billion humans who remain offline live in the developing world.

An offline solution to closing the digital divide

What if we could use an offline solution to make people comfortable with and skilled in using the digital and online world? 

In 2015, WikiFundi was designed, developed, and created to bridge this ‘connectivity grand canyon’ and provide a way for those who cannot access the internet – either permanently or temporarily – to learn key digital and content creation skills whilst creating articles about their context, surroundings and interests. Once the content is created, it can either be accessed locally or can be transferred and added to Wikimedia projects or other MediaWiki-based sites. 

The WikiFundi 1.0 editing interface with a Wikipedia offline library and hosts of training resources and materials was released in English and French in 2017. 

In January 2022, Wiki In Africa is proud to announce that WikiFundi is now available in Spanish, along with updated French and English versions. Each language version is supplemented with updated, expanded and entirely new teaching, training and reading materials and resources. 

Collaborative learning whilst doing

WikiFundi is accessible via the digital device of learners or trainees through the closed network (similar to wifi) powered by a Raspberry Pi device plugged into the mains or a battery pack. The WikiFundi interface simulates the experience of editing Wikipedia. Entire classes, groups or communities can work together whilst learning how to engage with a digital interface as they read quality articles, navigate the device and write articles collaboratively.

It’s in the name …The “Fundi” (/ˌfʊndɪ/, not /ˌfʌndɪ/) part of WikiFundi is based on a southern African word that means expert, authority or guru. It is used as an informal label, as in “you’re such a maths fundi”. The use of the term Fundi is a play on words. WikiFundi teaches you a skill, and it also gives access to knowledge. It is a clever platform that teaches you how to teach others by writing articles about things that you are passionate about.

An online future through offline training

Insufficient skills are the first culprit blamed as an impediment to meaningful connectivity. WikiFundi provides the interface, tools, and materials needed to introduce and train people in skills while they are also contributing to local or global knowledge. There are so many ways for people to engage, the limit is only the trainers’ imagination. 

Since launching in 2017, Wiki Fundi has been used in K-12 (primary (aged 6-12) and secondary (aged 13-18 years) classrooms, as part of adult-education and afterschool programs, for Wikimedia outreach and training by Wikimedia communities and digital skills acquisition and coding development by fledgling digital entrepreneurs. Its most notable impact has been through the annual WikiChallenge Ecoles d’Afrique, run annually since 2017 by Wiki In Africa in collaboration with Fondation Orange and Wikimedia Usergroups. 

WikiFundi benefits …

1. Educators teaching students (K-12, primary, and secondary), or running in school clubs, after-school or adult-education programs.

2. Wikimedia organizers and trainers in South America, Africa, or any rural situation or place that faces offline challenges (refugee camps, etc.).

3. Entrepreneurs interested in exploring and using a useful new digital tool.

The 2021 contest took place in 100 primary schools across 9 African Francophone countries. The contest resulted in 138 articles being written, the contribution of over 800 photos. Twenty primary schools won WikiChallenge prizes.

Further, in 2021 WikiFundi received the Open Asset award from the Open Education Awards for Excellence

Sounds good? Here’s how to get WikiFundi for your community

When considering installing WikiFundi, think of it more like installing a website, and not like downloading a mobile app. Like all digital interfaces, it is not a simple process. 

If you are feeling technically confident and you have a Raspberry Pi and SD card, you can download WikiFundi online from the image files available here. If you are not feeling technically savvy or wish to add offline Wikipedia, Wiktionary, or any other offline resources to your WikiFundi package then contact us directly.

WikiFundi is a Wiki in Africa project that was created and designed by Florence Devouard and Isla Haddow-Flood and developed by Florence Devouard, Emmanuel  Engelhard (Kelson), Florent Kaisser, Renaud Gaudin, and other incredible members of the Wikimedia global community. 

Since its inception, it has been funded by the Orange Foundation, Wikimedia Foundation, and Wikimedia CH. Version 3.0 was funded by Wikimedia CH and supported through an organisational grant from the Wikimedia Foundation. 

Try out WikiFundi today!

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