Close the Gap: Empowerment through Digital Skills

ByEdu@TECH4ALL

June 12, 2020

Edu@TECH4ALL

Recycle & Reuse

Since 2004, Close the Gap has collected over 1 million used ICT devices and delivered over 6,000 social and educational projects in 50 countries with high-quality refurbished computers.

Close the Gap acts as an end-to-end logistics manager that coordinates many partners in the project supply chain to ensure that IT projects are implemented successfully. This includes monitoring the refurbishment process, transport, export/import process, distribution, installation and maintenance, and local collection and recycling.

In this way, Close the Gap helps bridge the digital divide that still exists between the developing and developed world. As well as facilitating quality hardware for impactful projects, Close the Gap is the driving force of other initiatives that bridge the digital divide. These include the Digital For Development platform that brings together Belgian actors in coordinating digital development; WorldLoop, an organisation that promotes the proper recycling of e-waste in developing countries; and African entrepreneurs through our recently established Kenya office.

A Gap that Needs Closing

Earlier this decade, we noticed that our IT materials weren’t reaching remote areas, either because there was no electricity and connectivity, or because no educational organisations were active in that region. To serve these remote and isolated populations, Close the Gap started the DigiTruck project in 2014.

DigiTruck is a refurbished shipping container converted into a digital classroom. Fully solar-powered and with in-built connectivity, each DigiTruck is completely self-sufficient. By bringing multiple partners from different sectors together – such as NGO’s, telecom providers, government institutions, and private companies – the DigiTruck serves as a conduit for stakeholders invested in bringing quality digital education to all.

A Partnership Approach

Since the start of the project there have been 6 DigiTrucks deployed mainly in sub-Saharan Africa. On average, 100 students per month can receive training in digital skills. The courses vary from basic training in digital skills to advanced coding classes, and have already impacted over 10,000 people. A larger number of isolated community members are also indirectly positively impacted, as participants transfer the digital skills they learn to their family and friends.

The African continent, and Kenya in particular, is rapidly becoming a digital society. The Kenyan government’s Vision 2030 programme prioritises developing the ICT sector and creating a large number of ICT jobs. On top of that, the Kenyan government recently launched an 8-point economic plan valued at US$50 million to fight the effects of the COVID-19 crisis, and digital development is a key pillar.

Teachers: At the Vanguard of Inclusion

In our latest DigiTruck collaboration between Close the Gap Kenya, Computers for Schools Kenya, and Huawei (under its TECH4ALL initiative) there’s a special focus on teachers and transferring digital skills to facilitate the transition into a digital society.

Read More: Computer for Schools Kenya: Reaching Remote Communities with DigiTruck

The cornerstone of every education system are teachers, as they provide the lens that filters knowledge and offers the skillset that young people need to develop. By providing knowledge and theories on digital skills to teachers, Digitruck will have a long-lasting effect on the lives of countless students in Kenya.

Kelvin Kiamba, A DigiTruck trainer in Kenya

This training becomes even more relevant in light of the pandemic, which has highlighted that remote learning through digital devices is essential for education around the world. The pace with which students can absorb knowledge is now irrevocably linked to the ability to work with digital devices and its software.

However, this understanding of the digital world by students is of limited use if teachers are not trained well enough to transfer information through these digital channels.

DigiTrucks can play a vital role here, providing the support for teachers to create their own digital curricula tailored to the need of the local environment of students. That’s why we’re not stopping at 6 DigiTrucks and are looking to expand the fleet by many more. Only in large numbers can this innovation reach the millions of remote residents that are still lagging behind in the digital world.

Interested in how you can be involved as a partner or sponsor or organisation? Contact our Kenya office at info@closethegap.org and visit the Close the Gap website to find out more about us.

Further Reading about DigiTruck:

About the Author

Bram Over, Impact Project Manager, Close the Gap

Bram is responsible for business development in Europe and Africa for Close the Gap, as well as setting up the organisation’s new social enterprise in Kenya.

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