On I2CAP one more time

The comprehensive post on the work blog might take a little longer than I expected because we are migrating the web server unto a new machine and contemplating a different blogging engine. Once its done I’ll link it but in the meantime I’ll be glad to answer or get answers for any questions you might have.

As far as my personal impressions though, there are a lot of great things about this project. Chief among them was the fact that it is just fun to see about 100 kids coding and thinking their way through problems. I do have slight issues though. However the I2CAP organizer seemed to agree with them so i’ll wait and see what kind of strides can be made towards solving them.

my main ones though

  • This should not be a project that is dependent on only one private donor for the majority of its financial needs. There really should be more official and private weight behind this.
  • The computers the kids used. Again I got to see a lab full of old machines dumped on people in need who can’t complainand which we will have issues dealing with when the finally break. Africa is becoming way too much of a dumping ground for crappy old hardware and too many times its under the guise of altruism.

As a general observation too, these school labs might be a great place to introduce linux to kids. The schools are already broke with old hardware and yet trying to run Windows XP. it would be nice to be able to teach the people running those labs basic Linux admin and networking skills and use them to run their labs.

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4 Comments on “On I2CAP one more time”

  1. Stephen says:

    Hi,

    I found your site by following a link from boingboing.net. Interesting blog – I’ll be sure and read it in more detail when I get a chance.

    I was just looking at the I2CAP web site and recognized many of the schools mentioned there. I was in Ghana from 1995-1998 installing science equipment and computers in 110 secondary schools for the Science Resource Centre project, funded by the Ghanaian Ministry of Education (the UK company, Philip Harris, was contracted to supply equipment, buses and staff training for 110 science resource centres, where students from surrounding schools could be taken for science practical lessons).

    Is it possible that some of the computers I installed (new 486s running Windows 3.1 then) are now being put to good use in this contest? If they are then I’d really like to know. I’d like to get back to Ghana some time to see what, if any impact the project had.

    Regards,

    Stephen

  2. kwasi says:

    Hi Steven,

    I vaguely remember hearing about that project. I was also in secondary school in those days. Interestingly enough it is entirely possible that some of those schools are still using the remnants of the systems you installed mixed in with some donated machines. Most of what I saw were low end pentium II and III machines though.

  3. Stephen says:

    What SSS did you attend? I may have visited at some point. I lived in Airport Residential for a while but moved to East Legon and spent much of my time traveling from school to school in all 10 regions to advise on refurbishment of classrooms and to install equipment.

    I know funding was short but even if you never went to your local Science Resource Centre, you can’t have missed the bright yellow school buses – they were certainly used for more than SRC business! I think I have some pictures of the then Minister for Education, Harry Sawyerr, driving one round the parking lot at the Ministries on the day we handed over the first batch.

    Come to think of it the PCs were probably Pentiums, maybe some P-IIs later in the project. If they have the original power supply they are recognizable by a black filter holder over the PSU vent and having the direction of rotation of the PSU fan reversed so it pulls air in through the filter rather than in through the case. The idea was to reduce dust and I have to say that in all the machines I had to work on over there, there was never much dust in them – not bad considering the conditions during the Harmattan.

    I take your point about old machines being dumped in the developing world but you should know that at least the Science Resource Centre machines (6 per Centre) were supplied new and while not high end gaming machines, the spec was pretty reasonable for the time. The Ministry of Education also paid for training – which mostly revolved around using MS Word and Excel.

    Finally, do you have any dealings with Geek Corps? Their first office was in Accra (http://www.geekhalla.org/). It looked like they were doing some good work, though they have expanded enormously since I first became aware of them.

  4. kwasi says:

    I wasn’t in a public Ghanaian SSS in those days Steven, after JSS I moved to the SOS International College so I really wasn’t in the crowd you were building the Resource Centers for.

    I don’t remember seeing those computers but honestly I was paying more attention to the kids than I was to the computers so they could have been there. I will ask around about the Resource centers though.

    Also, my comment was not meant in any way as a blanket attack on everyone who ever sent a computer to Ghana. Just those who dump old machines on their last legs here for a tax write off and pretend they are doing us a favour.

    I personally haven’t worked with Geekcorps but they did do some work with the institute I currently work for. From what I hear they are still doing interesting work.


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