WikiChallenge Ecoles d'Afrique/en
Presentation of the writing contest
The WikiChallenge Ecoles d'Afrique (WikiChallenge African Schools) is a multi-national writing contest that creates a fun way for students (9-13) to learn how knowledge is built by contributing to Vikidia, the little sister of Wikipedia dedicated to children aged 8-15 years. It operated during the school year in 2017-2018, 2018-2019 and 2019-2020.
What is really specific about the contest ? All of the participating schools are in French speaking Africa and most of them are... offline ! To be fair, some even have issues with electricity access. Many of those kids have never heard of Wikipedia, if only because they have never been online .
The contest challenges schools to compete by writing Vikidia articles about something of importance in their area. Due to their poor or missing internet connectivity, they can use the WikiFundi platform to share knowledge about their unique city, town, village or suburb, a local landmark or a notable individual. The competition is a fun introduction to writing Vikidia articles, a content that can be transferred and will add information about Africa to Wikipedia. It also provides young Africans with an opportunity to learn more about their communities, cultures, role models and environments.
- Main page of the contest (in French): https://fr.vikidia.org/wiki/Projet:WikiChallenge_Ecoles_d%27Afrique. This page hosts all texts written last year by the kids as well as images submitted.
- There is also a Facebook page dedicated to the contest: https://www.facebook.com/ConcourswikiChallengeEcolesdAfrique/
- Finally, many of the images related to the context have been hosted on Wikimedia Commons : https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:WikiChallenge_African_Schools
Education, Offline, WikiFundi, Vikidia, Writing contest, French speaking Africa
How this project makes a difference ?
The project is a training and writing program designed for schools. It is targeted at the education community towards using wikimedia tools to acquire and share knowledge to develop skills of the youth and of their teachers.
The program help the kids to gain new skills, such as digital skills (using technology), collaborative writing, knowledge sharing, or information searching.
Additionally, they experience critical thinking and peer review. It is also the opportunity to get an initial understanding of intellectual property rights and open source. It is hoped that this project will participate in helping the students grow up as informed and active e-citizens.
The project team provide training the trainers activities, hence bringing new skills to the teachers as well.
Finally, the project result in the production and publication of information on the Internet, under a free license, for use by the greater public. This participate to the visibility of Africa on the Internet, and bring a feeling of pride to under-represented and poorly-served communities.
The program address equally to male and female.
The project will use, but to mention a few:
- Vikidia: the children encyclopedia. Whilst not a wikimedia project, this is an active project in our ecosystem.
- Wikimedia Commons : The kids contribute pictures (and possibly videos) onto Wikimedia Commons
- WikiFundi: the schools have access to an offline operational plateform including the use of raspberry Pis, Wikifundi and Kiwix resources.
Benefits for the kids
The contest encouraged kids to work together to create an article about their area. This could be an article about their village, suburb, notable person or a local historic or geographic feature. The contest was designed to provide students with hands-on experience in collating information and working collaboratively to contribute knowledge to one of the world’s most powerful information platforms. The contest was meant to specifically:
- Train students in how to write an encyclopedic article on a wiki;
- Give students key online skills that includes, but are not limited to, navigating an editing environment that mimics Wikipedia’s online version, and researching and citing correct sources;
- Provide media skills with regards to constructing articles, using categories, and taking photographs or creating other media to fully illustrate the article they submit to the contest.
- Contribute articles about Africa by Africans to Vikidia and Wikipedia, thus broadening the coverage of Africa.
The contest in 2017-2018
The contest was quite successfully first run in 2017-2018. It took place in primary schools over two months in late 2017 in 4 francophone African countries, Guinea, Madagascar, Mali, and Tunisia. It was run by anthere (Florence) from Wiki In Africa, in partnership with Orange Foundation. The schools were equipped with tablets and resources (including WikiFundi) by Orange Foundation. The local activity was run by local facilitators supported online by Florence or by wikimedians, such as Afek, member of Wikimedia Tunisia. Some local groups also partially followed Wikimedia France WikiMooc. The aim of the project was to enhance each school’s ability to learn about Vikidia (and ultimately Wikipedia) and contribute content offline. Content produced by the kids has been integrated into Vikidia (a 8-13 kids encyclopedia) once completed offline (by the schools and writers). The articles have been judged once online. Activities in the schools were followed on the Facebook page anytime possible.
In 2018, there were 6 winning schools.
Winning articles by country were:
- the Fria alumina plant by the students of Primary School Sabendè in Guinea
- Antsoheribory Island by the students of EPP Fanantenana - Mahajanga in Madagascar
- Public holidays in Tunisia by students of ESKHIRA - Tastour in Tunisia
- Medina Fort by students of CSHFOS 1stCycle - Kayes in Mali
The special Jury Prizes were:
- Saharan popular games by students of BECHNI - Gebel, Tunisia
- The government of the children and the marriage in Mali by the students of Yanfolila 1st cycle "A" - Yanfolila, Mali
To go further
- Wikimedia Education Newsletter January 2018
- Wikimedia Education Newsletter Novembre 2018
- Article publié sur le blog de Wikimedia France en 2017
The contest in 2018-2019
In 2019 the contest was extended to 7 countries (Senegal, Niger, Cameroun joined). To be more effective, we also organized two face-to-face two days long training sessions, that took place in November 2018 in Dakar and Tunis. The goal was to provide more practical and contextual information to Orange Foundation facilitators (with regards to Vikidia, Wikipedia, Wikimedia Commons, WikiFundi, free licences etc.). The training sessions were organized by Anthere, with the local support of Afek91 from Wikimedia Tunisia in Tunis, and Geugeor from Cameroun in Dakar. Both were also seconded by facilitators from previous years, in particular Bsghaier (Tunisia facilitator in 2017) and Nfana (who was a facilitator in 2017 and now launched Wikimedia Mali !). All 7 facilitators are now getting in contact with the schools. Whenever possible, we put the Orange facilitators in touch with wikipedians active locally for cross benefits.
To go further
- Article in Wikimedia Education Newsletter January 2019
- Poster presentation at Wikimania Stockholm
- Presentation during Wikimania
- Article publié sur le blog de Wikimedia France
- Article in Wikimedia Education Newsletter Septembre 2019
- WikiIndaba Nov 2019
The contest in 2019-2020
In 2020, the context was extended to 8 countries (Tunisie, Mali, Cameroun, Madagascar, Sénégal, Guinée, Côte d'Ivoire, RdC) and 151 schools registered (before Covid...). Most of the facilitators remained the same but two groups were brand new (Côte d'Ivoire and RdC). We decided to provide online training early 2020 to the two new facilitating groups, then to all meet face to face in June in Jordan for training and experience sharing. Well... COVID-19 made us change our plans quite a bit... the contest was suspended for several months and the article submission deadline moved to end of November, in hope that some of the schools will be open and able to participate fully to the program. The all-hands meet-up was naturally cancelled.
End of December, we enjoyed seeing 69 articles submitted, 400+ photos submitted, as well as 11 videos. Winners will be announced around May 2021.
To go further
- 28 may 2020 : WikiChallenge was presented during the #OpenPublish Fest, within the session "Wikipedia Campaigns: How to rally volunteers to improve wiki content". That webinar organized by Pete Forsyth from WikiStrategies featured Florence Devouard, Kevin Payravi & Rosie Stephenson-Goodnight .
- September 2020: We had the pride to see one of the student of the contest, Sarra from l’école de Taourit Djerbaqui, honored during the "journée nationale du Savoir" by Mr President of Tunisia ;
- October 6: presentation of WikiFundi, an Open Source Plateform to Learn New Skills and Collaborate on Wikipedia-like Articles, which included a presentation of the WikiChallenge at OE Global Conference 
- January 2021 : featured on Education Newsletter 
The contest in 2020-2021
In 2021, the context will be essentially maintained to the same countries than previous years (Tunisie, Mali, Cameroun, Madagascar, Sénégal, Guinée, Côte d'Ivoire, RdC) and 100+ schools. More info to come :)
People and structures involved
- Wiki in Africa for the general organisation
- Orange Foundation (Financial support to the project, Promotion and communication, Operational support during the Writing Contest for schools involved in Orange Digital Schools Network)
- Wikimedia CH (Financial administration of the project, Liaison for the organisation of the hackathon session and financial support, Communication) in 2017-2018
- Yorg (Fiscal sponsor in 2018-2019)
- Florence Devouard (organiser)
- Afek91 trainer from Wikimedia Tunisia
- Geugeor (trainer and facilitator from Cameroun), replaced by Serieminou in 2021
- Bsghaier (Tunisia facilitator)
- Nfana (Mali facilitator)
- Joo (médiateur Madagascar)
- Amadou Ibrahim (médiateur Niger)
- Tafsir Fall (médiateur Sénégal)
- kmed79 (M médiateur Guinée)
The project proposal, its documentation and its outcomes are under a CC BY SA 4.0 licence.