in eLearning, Innovation, Open Source, Research & Education, Smart Energy, West Africa

The AfriBox Initiative

The AfriBox Initiative

The AfriBox Initiative

During my last trip to Mali, fellow technologists and I decided to create an adapted computer named Afribox, based on a single-board microcontroller such as Arduino or Raspberry pi, to bring digital educational content and games to kids.  Indeed, access to education is still a big issue in West Africa and we saw the promise of inventing a kind of « old school » Nintendo Entertainment System for rural Africa. This computer could be played with pads, and used on a TV screen or a pico-projector.  Below is the concept note of the AfriBox Initiative.

  1. Context

According to UNESCO, some 43 million school-aged children are still outside the formal education system in sub-Saharan Africa and quality education still remains a major challenge.

This situation makes it imperative to offer a basic education framework and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is a perfect tool to bring knowledge to the last miles.

AfriBox, an adapted computer, compatible with a TV screen or pico-projector, can help children, teachers and adult communities access Open Educational Resources, to play educational games and to use adapted services.

An AfriBox computer is a rugged open hardware small computer, playable with control pads, offering open educational resources, educational games, open content and digital services. AfriBox can be powered by photovoltaic cells in order to consume minimal energy.  Content and services are provided on a USB flash drive or through the Internet if available.

Teachers are using pico-projector to provide Open Educational Resources, geographical maps or specific animations in their classrooms.

Children are using AfriBox to play with educational games to improve their basic educational knowledge.

Communities are using AfriBox to access digital services developed for their specific needs.

Developers are designing Open Educational Resources, games and digital services tailored to the educational needs of different communities.

  1. Implementation

The AfriBox will be distributed in 3 phases:

  • Phase 1: introduction of AfriBox in African schools;
  • Phase 2: introduction of AfriBox outside schools for out-of-school children;
  • Phase 3: introduction of AfriBox to rural adult communities.
  1. Educational transformation

AfriBox will bring a new way of learning by bringing open source educational content to African children.

Children will learn while playing and, for most of them, AfriBox will be their first computer.

Teachers will use AfriBox to support their courses and communities will use this computer for their own benefits.

AfriBox will create a new ICT business ecosystem in Africa.  Technicians will be needed to assemble and fix AfriBox, developers will write applications, children will learn from AfriBox’s contents and communities will adapt services to their needs.

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