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. 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.
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:
Pending endorsement from the
Minister, the demand for this project could be really great across
the ~26000 schools in SA.
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!
Global Development, Manager