Hi South Africa Chapter!

By means of and introduction, my name is Jessie Wild, and I am a Special Projects manager for the Global Development department at WMF. I work on a variety of projects for the WMF dealing most specifically with Wikimedia & Education and increasing the opportunities for access to Wikipedia.

One such initiative, which I hope you are mostly all aware of, is the Offline Wikipedia projects[1]. This is basically about penetration of the encyclopedic materials into areas – particularly secondary schools – without consistent access to the Internet. Content subsets of Wikipedia which are small enough to fit onto a standard USB stick have been created and uploaded onto computers in schools around the world as essentially a piece of software. “Wikipedia for Schools” is the most commonly distributed content package[2].
The distribution of this material has been mostly done thus far throughout Africa by organizations with broad reach. Wikimedian volunteers, though, have done a tremendous amount of work to push this effort, and you may have heard specifically of the work done by the Wikimedians in Kenya on this front earlier this year.

I am writing to let you know about a recent email I got from Sangari SA, who has helped contribute since 2004 Wikipedia for Schools in over 1000 schools in South Africa. Amazing! He said the Minister of Basic Education is asking for more information about the materials, given the great expense of the alternatives (Microsoft Encartha and Brittanica).

I bring this up for two reasons:
  1. Pending endorsement from the Minister, the demand for this project could be really great across the ~26000 schools in SA.

  2. There is an updated version of Wikipedia for Schools to be released in about a months time

So I am thinking and wanted to know what YOU all thought: would your chapter be interested in getting involved with the potential distribution and corresponding training associated with these distributions? That is, showing teachers what the materials are like, teaching about the importance of open education resources, giving sample classroom usages.

If this is not something anyone is interested in, that is definitely ok, though I of course think it is a great opportunity let alone a great cause :) If there are some individuals who would like to join the discussion please email me and we could organize a plan for execution!


[1] http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Offline_Projects

[2] http://schools-wikipedia.org/

[3] http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Kenya/Project_for_Kenyan_Schools

Jessie Wild
Global Development, Manager
Wikimedia Foundation