WiFi your Community – EPB

Waking up to a view of the grand mosque in Bahrain this morning has me thinking about cultures and just how small the world really is. The conference starts later today but some of the conversations I’ve had already have me thinking about education on a level I think few think about.

Yesterday I happen to take the bus from where the conference is being held (National Library just behind the grand mosque) to my hotel with the regional director of Save the Children. He oversees a project in Cairo and in Palestine. He use to have four other projects but do to money shortages they have had to scale back.

His project is helping rural schools become part of the community and help communities see schools as more of a community center than a place they send their children to learn. We talked about re-education the community to understand it “takes a village to raise a child”.

We also talked about e-learning and how it might be the answer to some communities. We talked about the fact that there is a wireless signal in the middle of the Congo and what if we could tap into that signal with laptops for students? Is there a way we could create systems that would allow us to educate rural areas of the world over a cell wireless signal?

As dinner last night I chatted with Dorothy and Russell from New Zealand. Russell is the Principal of PT England School. They are in the process of writing a grant to make their whole community wireless. Using the fiber optic backbone between schools they want to put wireless access points on the roofs of their schools that will cover the 3km x 2km community. Russell explained that the schools are far enough apart that they will overlap their signals nicely and be able to blanket the whole community with a wireless signal. As he said “We pay for the internet 24/7, why can’t we make it available to our community?” If they are able to get the wireless system up and running then the next step would be getting laptops in the hands of students. If everyone has a laptop, that feeling is they wouldn’t have to worry about student safety of students being bullied and mugged for their laptops (another story we heard from a school that went 1:1 in South America, where the school bus was stopped and students robbed of their laptops on their way to school.)

If these are the people I’m meeting and the conversations I’m having before the conference, I’m just wondering what the conversations will be like later today at the conference.

Stay tuned…..

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