Grants:Project/Rapid/Empowering African schools with Kiwix/Report

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Report accepted
This report for a Rapid Grant approved in FY 2016-17 has been reviewed and accepted by the Wikimedia Foundation.
  • To read the approved grant submission describing the plan for this project, please visit Grants:Project/Rapid/Empowering African schools with Kiwix.
  • You may still comment on this report on its discussion page, or visit the discussion page to read the discussion about this report.
  • You are welcome to Email rapidgrants at wikimedia dot org at any time if you have questions or concerns about this report.


As far as I can tell, the work I was able to do in Senegal far exceeded my planned goals. I was able to do all the site visits as planned, and I was able to work out a reporting procedure which we will use to get feedback at the end of the 2016-2017 school year. A few important contacts were made during the different site visits, and my schedule was flexible enough that I was able to set up meetings with some of them (university faculty and government officials).

A lot more contacts were made with teachers from schools far away during the workshops, and that was unexpected. This was a positive side effect of the workshops being held during the final exams period, and teachers are required to supervise the exams in a different school district from the one they are based in, often a few hundred kilometers distant. We have agreed to continue communicating by email knowing that it will be quite difficult - people in West Africa tend to communicate over the phone.


Target outcome Achieved outcome Explanation
Introduce Kiwix, a free and open source program, to different African schools and training centers.
Goal: 150 Kiwix users.
I was able to personally teach to 75 participants, and installed Kiwix on their computer. From past experience, each one will reach out on average to 8 other users. Some of the new Kiwix users are quite enthusiastic and will share the program with everybody they talk to. Knowledge is power, and by sharing their knowledge (the Kiwix program), they gain status among their peers. Others will hoard the USB flash drive, and share it only within their family.
Train the teachers is using Kiwix: finding information, copying and distributing Kiwix, updating the *.zim files, care of the Raspberry Pi device or the USB flash drives. The different workshops went quite well, as planned. The updating of the Kiwix files will be done by mailing them to a centralized location where individuals may go to update their Kiwix installation. One location was agreed upon in Foundiougne and one location in Thiès. The Raspberry Pi was tested in a variety of locations, but not much interest was expressed. Most attendees are wary of getting information over the Wifi mainly because most of the time Wifi equates with access to the Internet, and Internet connections are not very reliable. Attendees very much prefer to have Kiwix on a USB flash drive or installed on their computer.
Gather a community of Wikipedia users and/or contributors (in areas with adequate internet access). A few users in Thiès have created accounts, and have started contributing pictures to Wikimedia Commons. A small user community is being set up in Thiès, and I hope that different foreign (NGO) volunteers will help this community develop. West Africans are used to sharing everything with their community, and the community shares with them. There is one exception, and this has been documented, it appears that they do not share knowledge easily. There is also a question of building self-confidence, and feeling that they have the proper qualifications to have the right to change what the Europeans have written. Talk to any US university professor about anonymous Wikipedia editing, and you will understand the nature of this obstacle in Senegal. It seems that it is a lot easier to start with Wikimedia Commons, and then go onto modifying Wikipedia itself.
Work out a monitoring program with the teachers in order to evaluate the actual use of Kiwix during the school year. This will be done by regular contacts by email during the school year, and by interacting through a Facebook page. All attendees were made aware of the importance of these reports, with the aim of extending the project in a year or two. It appears that Facebook will be the easiest way to communicate with the teachers and administrators, mainly because the cell phone operators in Senegal offer free Facebook communications, excluding photos. A person without a smart-phone can always borrow one, and there will be no cost involved.
follow-up visits to the KOCC BARMA school and to the different training centers, and I hope to collect their deliverables. As stated elsewhere, I was able to do all the follow-up visits I had planned. I was also able to collect and compile the after-action reports from the 2015 project. I received most of the reports orally during my follow-up visits. Some of the schools and institutions felt that they had not done enough with Kiwix during the 2015-2016 school year, and were reticent to put that in writing. Otherwise, as I have stated elsewhere, they are used to communicating orally which is fine, I was able to write down their report.


Projects do not always go according to plan. Sharing what you learned can help you and others plan similar projects in the future. Help the movement learn from your experience by answering the following questions:

  • What worked well?
    The workshops and demonstrations went quite well, as planned. These were held either in a formal group setting (in schools) or more individually and small groups (usually in people's homes). People have to experience Kiwix themselves, use it to research information on information corresponding to their expertise, so that they realize how much knowledge is already available in Wikipedia. This encourages them to spread it around among their colleagues or fellow students.
    I was also able to reach a lot more people in different circles than I had originally planned: government officials, university professors, student association leaders.
  • What did not work so well?
    The Raspberry Pi hotspot looks good on paper, but cannot work out in the way I imagined. A school needs to be provided with Tablets or Computers along with the Raspberry Pi hotspot for this to be of any use. It is too difficult to plan a school activity using personal devices, the teachers are not used to doing that type of activity. The aim of this project is to bring Kiwix to outlying schools in Senegal, not to revolutionize their way of teaching.
  • What would you do differently next time?
    The main difficulty lies in being able to install Kiwix on the different computers the schools use. They often do not have enough free hard drive space for Kiwix, a lot of the computers have a 40 GB hard drive. The easiest way out is to distribute Kiwix on flash drives. That way the program can be shred and it can be installed on a large number of computers where their is enough free space left. It seems to work best if there is a limited number of USB sticks available, and the attendees then share them. In the long run, most people will make room on their hard drive and install Kiwix.
    The next time I will bring a load of internal hard drives for the "distribution centers", more external hard drives as well as a lot more USB flash drives. Part of the difficulties stem from limited or no Internet access for downloading Kiwix, and part of them stem from limited hard drive space to install Kiwix. The two are linked, the more it is difficult to download data from the Internet, the harder it is to erase files on the hard drive.


Grant funds spent[edit]

Please describe how much grant money you spent for approved expenses, and tell us what you spent it on.

  • 50 32 GB USB flash drives - 645 CHF (@ 12.90 per flash drive)
    25 32 GB USB flash drive @ 9.90 each - 247.50 CHF
  • Loading of Kiwix on flash drives by a student - 120 CHF (@30 CHF per hour)
    6 hours loading Kiwix (a bit longer that planned) 6 hours - Pro Bono
  • 1 Raspberry Pi Kiwix hotspots (including 64 GB microSDXC) - 110 CHF (prototype, still in development, approx 110 CHF per)
    two prototypes were built and tested. 201.16 EUR = 220 CHF. One is included in the grant - 110 CHF
  • shipping of Raspberry Pi to Thiès in September - 100 CHF (@ 50 CHF per Raspberry Pi)
  • Not yet shipped - an updated version based on the Raspberry Zero W is in developpment
  • 5 drinks and snacks for attendees (the schools will provide lunch as part of the deal) - 500 CHF (average of 35 participants @ 100 CHF)
    5 workshops held as planned, total accounted for 33 200 CFA - 55 CHF
    Different workshop-related food purchases 141 600 CFA - 234 CHF

Total of Grant money spent:

  • 247.50 + 110 + 55 + 234 = 646.50 CHF

Grant money to be refunded to WMF:

  • 1375 - 646.50 = 728.50

The Raspberry Pi needs to be shipped to Thiès in September, but it is small enough that it can fit in a "letter" format which reduces the cost.

Remaining funds[edit]

There will be funds remaining in this grant once I have shipped the Raspberry Pi in September. I would like to use the remaining funds on purchasing and shipping USB flash drives to certain contacts in Senegal who did not get any, like the office of the Mayor of Dakar-Liberté.

Update: the remaining funds have been returned to WMF.
Remaining funds from this grant have been returned to WMF in the amount of CHF 728.50.

Anything else (lessons learned)[edit]

  • I did not request funding for my travel costs going to Senegal, or my travel costs in the country.
  • I did not request funding for my food and lodging in Senegal.
  • I also did not request funding for my interpreter, and I came to realize that this is very important in order to explain things in detail. French is an official language, but it remains a foreign tongue for most of the teachers in Senegal. Wolof or Fufulde or any of the other 36 languages spoken in Senegal (21 official languages) are almost exclusively spoken. The written form, as some of the languages have one, is not taught at school, which means that almost all writing is done in French. Teaching and instructing is communicating, and communication just goes better in Wolof or Fufulde...

Looking over other grant request related to Kiwix, I imagine that this type of expense could be covered. I will now see if I can recover some of the costs.

Another lesson learned the hard way is that all receipts should be photographed as a backup in case originals are lost.