SAMI is excited to announce the launch of its new Digital Communities Initiative, a year long programme to use technology to improve livelihoods of all people within rural communities.

The big Idea

We have seen first-hand the huge impact technology can have to improve the lives of those who need it most. Following the classic proverb ‘it takes a village’ we aim to bring people together of all ages and vocations to use technology for good through education, training and research.

SAMI will draw on the experience and expertise its members, local partners across Africa and further international experts to design series of interventions that will all be run using tablet computers and facilitated by local university students and NGOs.  Initially we will be looking to use the tablets to impact on the following areas:

dci-1Tablets will be loaded with apps proven to help students improve basic numeracy skills, reading skills, and make a shift from rote “chalk and talk” learning to more learner-centered approaches. It is our hope that by doing this these children will be given a strong foundation of basic education, something vital so that they do not get left behind in the future.

A similar set of interventions will be carried out in secondary schools, with a focus on raising aspirations and grades within mathematics and computer science. These areas have been identified as the biggest barriers to university entry and scholarships, and are vital to help people in Africa develop the skills needed to solve problems facing the continent. We will place additional emphasis on supporting girls who are often marginalised in such contexts, with additional events such as a girl’s coding workshop.

dci-2Agriculture plays a huge role in local communities and is usually the main source of income for families. Rich catalogues of information and tools aimed at helping farmers already exist, however access to such information is severely limited for the majority. Interventions will be planned and delivered to support farmers in their daily activities, such as using local climate data to make crop decisions, tools for budgeting, and access to informative videos.

A large number of women in rural areas engage in informal business activities which hardly grow beyond the level of subsistence. Potential gains in these endeavours can have a huge knock-on impact for families, such as providing the additional means needed to send children to school or to access better healthcare. Tablets will be utilised to provide tools for financial management, planning and cooperation, collecting information and discussing possible solutions to improve understanding of risk.

The next steps

A fantastic team of local and international experts are currently being assembled whilst equipment is put together and resources developed. Project meetings will be taking place across August with an official launch in September 2016.

For more information you can follow SAMI on facebook, or contact [email protected]

EconEduFoundation-square120-1SAMI would also like to give a huge thanks to the generosity of the Economist Foundation for making the Digital Communities Initiative possible.