African Kids as Creators of New Media
We are building a computer lab at a poor, rural school in Africa so kids can blog, video blog, and photo document their lives.
There are 2.7 billion people in the world living on less than $2 a day, and many of them live in rural Africa. Global poverty has always existed, but for the first time world leaders have a widely supported and comprehensive plan to address it, the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). However, a serious obstacle to achieving the goals is a lack of financial investment: specifically, many people believe that the global poor are perpetually on a first-world subsidy and can never rise out of poverty.
Our goal is to prove this false. We will let African kids tell their own stories and present the reality of African life on the web. They will explain their hopes and dreams and show why they have difficulty achieving these dreams: lack of education and jobs, lack of infrastructure, unmet family needs, and so on.
We will build a computer lab at St. Paul’s Primary School in Akwa Ibom, a poor, rural region of Nigeria. The school has a 60:40 female to male ratio, and 15% of the students are orphans. Despite their disadvantages, the children want to succeed. Our program will allow them to convey their hope and resolve online using multiple media formats such as blogging and essay writing, scanned drawings / paintings, photo exhibitions, and video journalism. We have created a Web 2.0 site that can present content in all these forms. The site was created with the open source package CPedia and runs on Google App Engine, which hosts content free up to 5 million views / month. The teachers of St. Paul’s are ready to integrate the computers and our media project into their daily lessons. For example, the children’s writing lessons may involve posting stories online. Art classes may involve borrowing a video camera to record and edit creative films.