This project is my pride, after coming up with the idea of creating a learning system that provoke the self learning abilities in children, I wrote a project proposal and applied for funding all over the world. It was ISOC (Internet Society) who believed in my concept and in November 2009 awarded a funding of approximately US$ 10,000 to materialize the project.
It was an exciting time.
The fundamental concept of the project was to devise a learning system for the less privileged children and stimulate self-learning ability in them through the use of computers and internet. As a part of this project a complete education system was designed, developed and implemented to provide an opportunity of computer education to the children with little or no access to school, teachers and books.
This project was a test of my technical as well as social skills, as it dealt with not only the technical aspects of devising the systems but it also gave me an opportunity to interact and learn from the people of a very poor neighborhood in a Pakistani city called Rawalpindi.
I spend countless days interacting with the people of the area convincing them that the installation of EduScope will not cause any harm to their children.
Pakistan is home to a significant proportion of the population that survive beneath a poverty line valuated as the cost of basic food and essential non-food items. As a consequence of rampant poverty and government’s exceptionally low spending on education (which amounts to less than 3% of the GDP), the net primary school enrollment remains barely over 50 percent. With education sector in such a condition, the question of imparting knowledge and training to underprivileged children to survive in this digital age is simply hard to answer.
This project EduScope aimed to compensate for the low spending on education and overall lack of IT infrastructure for educational purposes by creating a “virtual classroom” at a street-corner, where underprivileged children are exploring and experiencing the rapidly expanding dimensions of the Internet age, in spite of their poor financial standing impeding their progress.
The objective is achieved by embedding a Secure Computer System on the outer side of the boundary wall of a charity school and giving restricted Internet access to the children of all ages. The children are able to access on-line virtual classrooms, online children competitions, on-line educational games and many other different activities available for children on the Internet.(This Internet access is restricted to only those on-line activities that are related to children.)
The basic purpose of embedding the system in the wall was to provide round the clock access to the system for the children. The system is free to access and is not supervised by an attendant. The children are allowed to use the computer system at any time. This had helped in developing a sense of availability of a computer system, in the children belonging to the families who simply cannot afford a computer. The computer system embedded in the wall is referred to as “EduScope” Another important purpose of this project was to enhance and nurture the self learning abilities in children. By nature, children are blessed with a much stronger learning ability.
A customized Ubuntu based Operating System was designed, the purpose was to provide a KIOSK style computer workstation for children. Each workstation provided access to a pool of information, organized and arranged in a manner that could be easily understandable by children.
The project was divided into various inter-related tasks or phases, grouped into a number of project modules. Following are the main modules of the EduScope system
EduScope Steel Case & Computer Hardware: This module was concerned with building a kiosk machine which is robust, and provides enough resources for our software to work properly. All the selection and buying of computer hardware also comes under this project module.
EduScope Content Search: This part of the project was concerned with designing, finding and organizing the educational content related to the children aged between 5-12 years, which was placed on the system.
EduScope Network: this module is concerned with the connectivity of the systems with each other and with the Internet.
EduScope Software: Specially designed software / portal is a part of this learning system. It involves a light weight OS, customized according to our needs, and software which is a kind of encyclopedia or library, which holds the content categorized in a meaningful manner.
The two computers placed in the wall are named as
Following are the screen shoots of the desktops of both computers.
The complete documentation of the project can be fetched @ https://github.com/anbreen/EduScope
Some more photos from the album.