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Build a Computer Classroom for Zanzibar Students

by Welcome Ideas
Build a Computer Classroom for Zanzibar Students
Build a Computer Classroom for Zanzibar Students
Build a Computer Classroom for Zanzibar Students
Build a Computer Classroom for Zanzibar Students
Build a Computer Classroom for Zanzibar Students
Build a Computer Classroom for Zanzibar Students
Build a Computer Classroom for Zanzibar Students
Build a Computer Classroom for Zanzibar Students
Build a Computer Classroom for Zanzibar Students
Build a Computer Classroom for Zanzibar Students
Our student (Hassan) modelling a mask
Our student (Hassan) modelling a mask

Normally, the report begins – “hello from Zanzibar!”  However this month, I must say hello from the US (where I have been stuck since the end of March as a result of the coronavirus crisis)!  Our update this quarter will be a little non-traditional as a result of the crisis’ impact on the world and Welcome Ideas.  This report will focus on two areas:  the impact of coronavirus on Welcome Ideas & Zanzibar and our plans for safely reopening Welcome Ideas.

Impact of Coronavirus on Welcome Ideas & Zanzibar

To help the Zanzibar community combat COVID-19, Welcome Ideas made the decision to temporarily close after the first official case was reported in Zanzibar in mid-March.  The following day, the Zanzibar Ministry of Education instructed all schools to close.  Prior to this, and after the first cases had been reported in East Africa, we had instituted social distancing policies, rigorous classroom cleaning & sanitizing, handwashing guidelines, and provided hand sanitizer to all students.  We also conducted a COVID-19 workshop to explain our new guidelines, discuss the coronavirus’ impact on the world, and combat some of the myths that had been taking over social media for several weeks (including black people are immune from coronavirus, lemon juice will prevent you from contracting coronavirus, and Africa is too warm for a coronavirus outbreak).  During the days following our workshop students greeted each other with the Hawaiian Shaka instead of a traditional handshake, we exhausted our supply of hand sanitizer, and after each class students assisted with cleaning and sanitizing the classrooms.

Tourism was the largest economic driver on Zanzibar before coronavirus, however at the end of March, Tanzania put a halt to all incoming international flights to combat the spread of the virus.  Almost all hotels, tour operators, and other tourism supporting businesses on the islands closed – leaving thousands unemployed and turning the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Stone Town and all of the beach resorts into ghost towns.

Although the coronavirus has put a pause to many of our students’ plans to open their own tourism businesses; many of our students have found ways to help the Zanzibar community cope with this crisis.  A number of our students have made masks to help stop the spread of the virus, some have built handwashing stations in their community, and others have used the time to teach English to their neighbors.  We are very proud of the work of our students and continue to offer them virtual support as they plan their businesses.

Through the month of April, Tanzania conducted testing and reported all confirmed cases in accordance with WHO practices and guidelines.  However, at the end of April, Tanzania stopped publicly reporting new COVID-19 cases.  Although Tanzania has opened its airports to international flights and tourists, many foreign embassies are advising their citizens against travel to Tanzania/Zanzibar until the government is able to resume its transparent reporting of new COVID-19 cases.  As a result, the tourism industry is not yet on a rebound – which is understandable as the coronavirus continues its’ grip on the world.

With the high levels of unemployment in the tourism sector, we anticipate higher interest and enrollment in our next series of courses.  Additionally, as many tourism businesses shut down, we see this as an opportunity for our students to establish their businesses as the tourism industry begins to rebound.  In the past several months we have been working hard to assess the resources that we will need to scale up and have tried to identify potential sources of funding (which are fewer and fewer these days).

Our Plan for Safely Reopening Welcome Ideas

Although many schools in the West were able to quickly transition their courses to an online learning model, we have not been able to successfully implement a similar scheme in Zanzibar because of two critical factors:  first, most of our students do not have access to a computer outside of the school and second, if we were able to offer content viewable by smartphones – even if students could borrow smartphones from a family member – the cost of data to view online content would be prohibitive to  most of our students.  While this solution is not completely viable, we have designed a system for students to view courses online via their smartphone as part of our reopening plan.  We will be using money raised from donations to help defray the data costs for our students and will be working with our students who do not have access to a computer or smartphone to help them borrow the resources they need.  Our virtual classes will begin later this month and will be our first phase of reopening.

Our second phase of reopening will be to offer in-person instruction to smaller groups of students.  Although the government of Zanzibar authorized the reopening of schools just this past week, we have decided not to offer in-person classes until we can be better assured of the safety of our students and staff.  Once we are at a point of offering in-person instruction we will be implementing temperature screening, small class sizes to allow for social distancing, cleaning and sanitizing of classrooms between every class, and hand sanitizer available in all classrooms.  Additionally, we have been working with local tailors (and students) to secure masks for our students to wear.  Masks will be required everywhere on the Welcome Ideas campus.

We are also working on attracting members of the local community with tourism background, who currently may have a lot of free-time, to volunteer as instructors and guest lecturers for some of our courses. 

Should we receive the additional funding for our IT classroom to buy the remaining 13 computers needed, we will convert one of our smaller classrooms into a satellite IT classroom to ensure appropriate social distancing.  Our IT courses remain some of our most popular courses and we are working diligently to ensure we continue to offer these courses to our students even as we are presented with these new conditions.

Thank you again for your support of our work and our students.  Although there is much uncertainty, we are excited about the amazing potential and creativity of our students.  We hope that you and your family are safe and healthy and we look forward to updating you again soon as we work with the Zanzibar community to overcome this crisis.

One of many community handwashing sinks
One of many community handwashing sinks
Welcome Ideas Students' masks from local tailor
Welcome Ideas Students' masks from local tailor
Welcome Ideas Online Learning Portal
Welcome Ideas Online Learning Portal

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Hello from Zanzibar!

Introduction

Since our last update in December we have been hard at work expanding our IT course offerings, adding equipment, and maintaining the existing equipment within the IT classroom.  Our students’ knowledge continues to expand, and their newfound IT skills have been put to work on other school projects and their business plans.  We are happy to report that we have received an additional $700 for the IT classroom, which we have already put to good use.  We are excited about a number of upcoming fundraising opportunities through GlobalGiving and we hope to raise the remaining funds for the IT classroom in the next few months.  There are exciting things happening as a result of your generosity and we’re very happy to share them with you today!

Additional Courses

As we reported in December, there were a number of students waiting for the launch of our Intermediate IT classes.  We are delighted to share that in the beginning of February we launched our Intermediate IT course and began our second round of Beginning IT courses.  The IT classes at Welcome Ideas are some of the most requested classes and we have been able to easily fill all of the available openings in each class.  In fact, now that we have been able to enroll more students in our IT courses, the IT classroom is full of students even when class is not in session.  Students have been using the computers to write their business plans, prepare assignments for other classes, and practice some of the skills they’ve learned in class.

Our biggest limitation currently is the number of computers available for students (both within class and after class).  We still have space for 13 additional computers which would double our capacity and allow us to consolidate duplicate classes, offer additional classes, and train more students.

Skill Development

Students in our classes continue to improve their typing skills, with many of the students doubling their words typed per minute over the course of the last few months.  Each of our classes offers a typing component to help further develop the students’ efficient use of a keyboard.  It’s been exciting to see the students go from using only 2 fingers to hunt and peck on the keyboard, to comfortably using all of their fingers to compose documents using the keyboard.

In addition to improvements made in typing skills our Intermediate IT students are creating mail merges in Word using Excel Spreadsheets.  They’ve been practicing writing client letters and promotions using their mail merge capabilities and they have been excited to see how they can integrate data across the Microsoft Office platform.  Our Beginning IT students have successfully mastered the use of all of the key Microsoft Word formatting tools and have begun learning how to write basic formulas/functions within Excel.  While some of the students are still building their confidence in using a computer, we have a good number of students who have been able to unleash their creativity and design some amazing documents, spreadsheets, and presentations.  If you could see these students blossom like I have, you’d have no doubt that your donation was being put to very good use.

Upcoming Courses

The most requested topic within IT is web design.  We have a number of students who are starting or expanding their own small tourism businesses and web design is not just something that student are interested in, it’s something that would have immediate practical impact for a number of our students.  We are working on securing internet for the school, so that we can either offer a stand-alone web design course or incorporate it into some of our existing courses.

In addition, we are currently offering a Tourism & the Sharing Economy course for which we would like to utilize the IT classroom in order to facilitate hands on learning with platforms like AirBNB, Uber, EatWith, etc.  This hands-on learning would provide the students with valuable experience and expertise as they work on opening their own small tourism businesses.

Equipment Purchases & Maintenance

We used some of the $700 we received since the last update to purchase a projector dedicated to the IT classroom.  Prior to this purchase, we only had one projector in the entire school which had to be shared between the classes.  When the projector was in use by another course, students would have to huddle around the teacher’s computer to watch the day’s lesson and demo.  This was less than ideal, and the new Epson projector we purchased has a great picture which is bright enough for the students to see even on the sunniest days of the Zanzibar summer.

In addition to the purchase of the projector we have had additional electricity costs to operate the air conditioning as Zanzibar has been experiencing some exceedingly hot summer days.  We have also had to repair the air conditioning unit which hadn’t been operating properly.  Now, with a new projector and working AC, the IT classroom is a great learning environment for our students!

Financial Update

There is just a little over $7,000 needed to purchase the last remaining computers for the IT classroom.  After purchasing the projector and repairing the air conditioning, the remaining funds have been set aside but are not quite enough to purchase another computer.  Each computer is approximately $500 and although we would like to purchase the remaining 13 computers all at once, we will purchase them individually as we raise the funds so that we can increase the capacity of each class. 

If you would like to continue your support of Welcome Ideas and our IT Classroom, GlobalGiving will be offering a matching campaign called “Little x Little” which will begin on March 23rd.  Be sure to check your emails from GlobalGiving for more details.

Thank you again for your support of this project.  Your generosity has helped our students tremendously and we look forward to the next time we can update you about all of the amazing things our students have done as a result of your support.

Cheers,

Kenn

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Some students working on their assignments
Some students working on their assignments

Hello from Zanzibar!

Introduction

As a result of the generous donation that you made through Global Giving, we now have a computer classroom complete with 12 laptop computers. Since our last update, we have been busy putting the finishing touches on the computer classroom and procuring all of the needed equipment to make the Welcome Ideas Computer Classroom a reality. We are currently offering two Beginning IT in Tourism courses and will begin offering an Intermediate IT in Tourism class shortly. Before and after classes the computer classroom is a-buzz with students practicing typing, finishing assignments for IT, and preparing presentations or documents for other classes.

Facility Preparation & Equipment Procurement

As part of our last update, we had mentioned that we would need to purchase an air conditioning unit to ensure we keep the classroom dust-free and at an ideal temperature to allow students to learn. Since then, we were able to work with our landlord who purchased and installed the air conditioning unit for us as part of our new lease agreement, leaving us with the much-needed funds to purchase additional computers. As of the last update, we had the funds available to purchase 9 computers – but as a result of the work we did to ensure the landlord covered the cost of the air conditioning unit, we were able to purchase 12 computers.

After the successful installation of air conditioning in the computer classroom, we had workers (“fundis” as they are called in Zanzibar) seal the doors to ensure dust cannot enter the classroom. We also contracted with fundis who made metal security gates for each door entering the computer classroom to act as a deterrent and preventative measure against theft. After completing all of the facility work needed to secure and protect the computers, we were finally ready to install the computers in the classroom.

Since we were able to purchase 12 computers instead of 9, our IT vendor was able to offer us an additional 50,000 shilling discount per computer off the original price which was 1,200,000 shillings per computer. This rate is guaranteed through the remainder of the year and into early next year, so we can purchase the remaining computers at the same price. Through our vendor, we were able to secure Lenovo laptop computers with 15.6 inch screens, i5 processors, 4GB of RAM, with Windows, Microsoft Office, and Antivirus software installed. These specifications have met our needs well and our vendor has already installed all 12 laptops in our classroom. Having laptops is essential in Zanzibar as we often experience power cuts and the battery powered laptops allow our students to continue their work in class even during power cuts. We also have purchased voltage regulators to ensure we are able to protect the computers from the extreme power fluctuations on the island.

An updated financial expenditure document has been included below, so you can see all of the financial expenditures we have made to-date to prepare the computer classroom for our students.

Beginning IT in Tourism Courses

We have already begun 2 sets of our Beginning IT in Tourism course. Students taking this course have been focused on learning typing/keyboarding as well as the basics of Microsoft Office. Every class begins with 30 minutes of typing practice where we use Typing Instructor Platinum to provide lessons and practice for students to work on increasing their typing speed. Most students come in early, so they can get a jump start on typing practice and have additional time to improve their typing speed. Students measure their own words per minute and compete with themselves and other students to improve their speed. In the next update we’ll provide you with the average word per minute increase of our Beginning IT students.

After completing typing, students then watch a 30-minute demo of the days lesson on Microsoft Office. They have the opportunity to ask questions, see the functions as used by the instructor, and take notes on the day’s lesson. Students are then given the remaining hour of class to complete an assignment that corresponds with the daily lesson. The instructor then assists students with their assignments on an individual basis.

After completing the Beginning IT in Tourism Course, students will be able to use Microsoft Word to create a business plan, Microsoft Excel to create basic financial documents, and Microsoft Powerpoint to create business presentations. We hope you enjoy the pictures included in this update of some of our beginning level students in the new computer classroom.

Intermediate IT in Tourism Course

We have a number of students anxiously awaiting our intermediate IT course. We have not yet been able to offer this course since we have had to split the beginning IT students into two groups/classes as our computer classroom has only half of the computers needed to be at full capacity. If we had 24 computers in the classroom, we would already be offering both a beginning and intermediate level course.

Our students have been very understanding of the delay and will be starting this course shortly as we work on freeing up the teaching resources required to be able to offer this class. Our intermediate course will continue to have a typing/keyboarding component, will provide students with instruction on more advanced Microsoft Office functionality, will teach students Quickbooks, and (provided we have the funding for internet) will include a web design component. Our next update will include pictures and a more detailed overview of the intermediate course.

Open Computer Lab Time

Before and after class, you can always find students in the computer classroom. They are either practicing typing, working on their assignments, or preparing work for other classes. We are working on a system to ensure all students have access to computer lab time through-out the week. It is great to see the students putting your donation to good use each and every day.

More Classes and Successes are on the Horizon

Currently our only limitation is the number of computers we have available and our teaching resources. We are looking forward to having 24 laptops in the computer classroom (with one additional laptop for the instructor). We still need about $6700 USD to purchase all of the computers & equipment we need to be at full capacity. If you know anyone who might want to help support this project, please consider sharing it via the Global Giving link below.

We can’t thank you enough for your generosity and your support of this project. We have included some links below to share more information about the work we do at Welcome Ideas, which you can learn about via the link to our newsletter. We have also included another link to the video of our students thanking you for your generous support (this was included in the last update – but we wanted to include it again in case you missed it). Finally, we also included a link to a thank you video highlighting some of the computer graphic/animation work we will be teaching to our students.

We hope you enjoy the attached pictures of our new computer classroom in action!

Thank you! (or as we say in Zanzibar “Ahsante Sana!”)

A student practicing typing
A student practicing typing
A student adding bullet points to a list in Word
A student adding bullet points to a list in Word
Another student hard at work
Another student hard at work
Another student finishing up the day's assignment
Another student finishing up the day's assignment
One of 12 new laptops for our computer classroom
One of 12 new laptops for our computer classroom

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Students Completing their 1st Short Course
Students Completing their 1st Short Course

Hello from Zanzibar!

Introduction

We are very excited to tell you about the progress of our project to build a computer classroom for the Welcome Ideas school in Zanzibar.  In mid-August, we received over $6,400 USD from the Global Giving Fundraiser that you so generously supported!  We have transferred those funds to our bank account in Zanzibar and are already in the process of setting up the classroom, securing the equipment, and scheduling our upcoming IT classes.

Classroom Set-Up

To prepare for classes in the computer classroom, we painted one of the walls with a screen - so that our teachers will be able to "demo" different program features and functions for the students.  We also installed a whiteboard, to aid in instruction, as well as tables and chairs for 24 students.  

To protect the computers that you so generously helped us purchase, we are working on a variety of activities to prepare the classroom to protect this investment.  Computers are often a target of thieves on Zanzibar and this is especially true with schools that have computer classrooms.  We have contracted a craftsman (fundi) from the local community who builds metal security doors & gates.  He is building two locking metal security doors for us that will secure the computer classroom from the hallway and the outside balcony.  

In addition to thieves, dust and the African heat also can wreak havoc on computers in Zanzibar.  We have contracted with another fundi to help us fix the hallway and balcony doors to limit the dust that gets into the classroom.  Finally, to maintain a dust free environment, we will need to keep all of the windows closed.  As you can imagine, this will create a very hot classroom.  To combat the heat, we have ordered an air conditioning unit for the classroom to keep it cool during the hot Zanzibar days.

Securing Equipment

As a result of the fluctuating power in Zanzibar, we will be purchasing voltage regulators to ensure the computers are not damaged.  We will be purchasing 6 voltage regulators and 6 power strips for the classroom and have found a vendor who will be able to offer these to us at a very reasonable price.

The computers we will be purchasing will be laptop computers (since laptops will continue to work through all of the power outages that occur on the island).  We are working with Stone Town Traders, an IT and office equipment vendor on the island, who is looking for the best price for 25 laptop computers for our classroom.  24 laptops for students and 1 laptop for the teacher.  In addition to getting the best price, we also are trying to secure computers that we can purchase in phases (since we have not yet reached our $15,000 goal).  We want to ensure that all 25 computers are the same, even though we will be purchasing 9 now and 16 more when we reach our $15,000 goal.  To receive this quantity of computers, Stone Town Traders will be ordering them from Dubai.  We are hopeful that the computers are delivered quickly without any customs delays.

Transparency & Anti-Corruption

When working in East Africa and ordering equipment in such quantities, there is always a concern about corruption.  Any vendor that does more than $1000 USD in business with us is required to abide by and sign our Transparency & Anti-Corruption policy.  We work diligently to ensure that all of our vendors meet the highest standards, since we do not want to be associated with vendors or individuals involved in corruption.  Stone Town Traders has been provided with and has agreed to abide by our transparency & anti-corruption policy.  They have read and signed our policy, so you can be assured that your donation is going directly to purchase these computers and not to bribes or facilitation payments for government officials.

Upcoming Classes

In mid-August, our first set of students completed short courses in Introduction to Tourism and Tourism Leadership Development.  We are so proud of each of them and have attached a few pictures of these students with their certificates (they are very proud too). Each of these students have signed up for either Beginning IT or Intermediate IT, which we will be offering beginning September 23rd(as long as the computers arrive by then). We also completed interviews for our next set of short courses and about half of those students will also be enrolled in IT courses.  In addition to these IT Short Courses, where students will learn the basics of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook; students have also requested a Social Media Marketing class and a YouTube class – they are planning a YouTube channel where they can post videos of some of their skits and role plays that they do for class.

Open Computer Lab Time

In addition to the upcoming classes, we will be assigning each of the students’ computer lab time through-out the week, where they can come in and use the computers to practice typing, work on assignments, and practice their new computer skills.  Several of our students are working on starting their own businesses and will be using this time to do internet marketing, create reports, or build websites for their business.  One student, Feisal, has opened up his own juice bar in Zanzibar (we’ve included a picture of him in front of his new juice bar).  He is currently using Google Sheets on an old smartphone to enter all of the data for his income & expense reports.  Thanks to your generosity, he will be able to come in and use one of the laptops on a regular basis to enter all of this information.  Another student, Ashrina, just received a funding award to open her own spice farm and tour (we’ve included a picture of her receiving her award).  Again, thanks to your generosity, she will be able to come in and use the computers to design a website for her new business.

Sisi Women & Children

In Zanzibar, women are often excluded from computer education programs beginning in primary & secondary schools.  Unfortunately, this has a major impact on their future educational and career opportunities.  We are now partnering with Sisi Women & Children, a Zanzibar based nonprofit, to help combat this trend and empower women in Zanzibar through technology and education (we've included a link to Sisi Women & Children's website below). We will be working with our female students and Sisi Women & Children to provide mentors to girls in primary and secondary schools who are interested in learning more about IT & computers.  Our students will be able to share their new expertise and help these young girls learn how to leverage computers & technology in their lives, their education, and their careers.  Thanks to your donation, our students will be able to take their skills and help a younger generation build their computer skills.

This is Just the Beginning

Over the next few months we will be training almost 50 students using the computers you funded.  Within the next year, over 100 students will have benefit from having access to these classes and the computer classroom.  Our only limitation is the number of computers we have available. We still need about $8400 USD to purchase all of the computers & equipment we need.  If you know anyone who might want to help support this project, please consider sharing it via the Global Giving link below.

We can’t thank you enough for your generosity and your support of this project.  Some of our students heard about your generosity and put together a video for you to say thank you.  Use the “Students Say Thank You” link below to hear them thank you for your donation to this project!

Thank you! (or as we say in Zanzibar “Ahsante Sana!”)

Students looking forward to IT Courses
Students looking forward to IT Courses
Our student, Feisal, in front of his juice shop
Our student, Feisal, in front of his juice shop
Our student, Ashrina, receiving a funding award
Our student, Ashrina, receiving a funding award
Future IT students working on a team project
Future IT students working on a team project
Future IT students discussing a group project
Future IT students discussing a group project

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Organization Information

Welcome Ideas

Location: Pullman, WA - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @welcomeideas
Project Leader:
Kenn Scott
Pullman, WA United States

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