Ofwa Brings Wikipedia to Offline Communities in Africa Through the KIWIX4SCHOOLS Program

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Through OFWA Kiwix4Schools program, offline communities get to learn and experience Wikipedia and its sister projects

In an era where information is abundant, access to quality education remains a privilege for many. For the past three years, Open Foundation West Africa has embarked on a mission to change this narrative through the Kiwix4schools Program. This initiative aims to bring free educational content to schools across Africa and beyond. You can read about it on a Diff blog for a more in-depth look into our journey and insights gained during the last two years.

This program has gone beyond the shores of Ghana to inspire other communities from other countries. This inspiration led us to launch the Kiwix4schools Africa Mentorship Program this year.

The launch event of the Kiwix4schools Africa Mentorship Program was a success, drawing over 100 participants. Distinguished speakers from Kiwix, Wikimedia Foundation, Open Knowledge Foundation, Internet Society Ghana Chapter, and the Ghana Commission for UNESCO graced the occasion.

Kiwix4Schools Africa Mentorship Program Virtual Launch 2023
Kiwix4Schools Africa Mentorship Program Virtual Launch 2023

What truly captured our attention was the overwhelming response from across Africa, with approximately 200 participants registering for the Kiwix4schools Africa Mentorship Program. This underscores a shared experience among many African communities, especially as internet penetration on the continent remains at a modest 43%. Despite this progress, challenges still persist, with the high cost of internet bundles rendering many schools offline. Additionally, outdated and limited books in school libraries restrict students’ access to knowledge and resources, often available online, including valuable Wikimedia resources.

The Kiwix4schools Africa Mentorship Program cohort 1 proudly graduated 64 Kiwix4schools Ambassadors hailing from 20 African countries. The program’s success was attributed to a multifaceted approach, incorporating a virtual self-learning platform with engaging videos and texts, live interactive sessions, and dedicated mentors for each participant. Smaller mentor-led groups, comprising 7-10 participants, facilitated one-on-one sessions, ensuring individual needs were met. To crown the program, we hosted a question and answer session for the mentees with Kiwix. It was such an insightful session as we had the Kiwix CEO address all the questions and challenges that the mentees had using Kiwix.

Having Kiwix organization as a major partner on this program was instrumental, providing support and advice on each step of the way. Special gratitude to Stephane Coillet-Matillon CEO of Kiwix, who supported our team every step of the way. These 64 ambassadors have been equipped with the skills and knowledge to implement their own Kiwix program in their communities. 

Kiwix4Schools Africa Mentorship Program 2023 Cohort 1 Graduation
Kiwix4Schools Africa Mentorship Program 2023 Cohort 1 Graduation

Currently, we are piloting the Kiwix4schools Program in five countries: South Sudan, DR Congo, Tanzania, Nigeria, and Burundi. We hope to pilot in more countries in the coming years. At the moment two communities have implemented their project.

Over the years, our Kiwix program has been instrumental in introducing educators and learners to Wikimedia Projects like Wikipedia and Wiktionary, Wikimedia Commons and other educational resources that can enhance their learning and research. Anytime volunteers visit a school to install Kiwix at their computer lab, they organize training sessions that engage and educate students on educational resources that Wikimedia offers. Students are trained on how to navigate the Kiwix resources on their computers practically to make it easier for them to access the resources. The Kiwix4schools program was inspired by volunteers like Felix Nartey who first brought Kiwix to Africa, Maxwel Beganin, and Otuo-Akyampogn Boakye who led the pilot phases of the project. 

In 2022 the OFWA team led by Ruby D-B rown Snr. Programs Officer and Eugene Masiku, Communications Officer had the opportunity to present Kiwix4schools 2021/2022 programs’s impact at the Wiki Indaba 2022 Conference as well as the recent Wikimania 2023 in Singapore. Find the 2023 presentation at Wikimania here. We also had the opportunity to meet the Founder of Kiwix Emmanuel Engelhart and got the chance to engage in a hybrid panel discussion at the conference about offline communities together with other speakers. 

As we forge ahead, Open Foundation West Africa remains committed to making quality education accessible to all, breaking down barriers, and empowering students across Africa with the knowledge they need to thrive in the digital age. Through initiatives like Kiwix4schools, we are working to bridge the education gap, one school at a time.

Join the next cohort of Kiwix4Schools Africa Mentorship Program in 2024. Follow our social media handles @ofwafrica and get updated. 

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