What were these kids in Uganda doing now that their schools had shut down? How far behind might they fall, and what could be done to stop or slow that fall? Simon and Nate of Student Changemakers thought back to Khan Academy and their current online learning experience. They figured that, if they could raise money to send a bunch of tablets, they could arrest the slide, albeit on a small scale. They settled on a name – Student Changemakers – and got to work.
Regular Internet access is quite rare in rural Ugandan villages and schools; the project would need a specialized WiFi hotspot. The boys did some research and learned of a server called RACHEL (Remote Area Community Hotspot for Education and Learning). In addition to providing internet access, each RACHEL comes equipped with a digital learning library – one far more comprehensive than a single tablet could carry. Here were the beginnings of rural educational infrastructure.
In March 2021, the Ugandan Minister of Primary Education visited the village to mark the launch of the project – Uganda’s first online learning initiative. The Minister declared that this ought to be the model for Ugandan primary school education.
In partnership with Teach for Uganda the European non-profit War Child Holland, Student Changemakers has been critical in getting the entire primary education syllabus available online.
Following the success of the first village launch, Simon and Nate have been able to raise money for four more villages serving approximately 5,000 children total!
Other youths around the US are joining the project as partners or contributors. The tablets Student Changemakers provides are necessary during Covid, but James and his cohorts at Teach for Uganda say they’ll transform the classroom when students return in person. Teachers who previously had to keep 100 or more kids on the same lesson at the same time will now be able to divide them into groups with tablets, learning in parallel at a pace that suits them. Moreover, digital learning allows these students to test which skills they need to strengthen and quickly adapt a tailored study program to their individual needs!