But now a new initiative has seen the light of day. The solution called ‘Internet in a box’ consists of used DTU computers that act as a digital library.
The digital library contains a database with e-books, magazine publications, and video material which are uploaded to a number of small schools, colleges, research institutions, and libraries in several parts of Eritrea. With the help of routers, students can access the library—either from the school’s IT room or from their own phones or tablets—enabling them to seek new knowledge, look up in a reference work such as Wikipedia, read international magazines, or listen to TedTalks.
Behind the initiative are the Eritrean organization ‘Library and Information Association’ (LIAE) and the Danish organization Azmara.dk.
“In this way we ensure that students in Eritrea can obtain free and equal access to information, despite the infrastructure in our country not allowing for widespread internet access. Students can download textbooks on their writing assignment topics, and we can see that both the pupils in primary schools and the students in further education programmes are benefitting from the digital collection we’ve made available,” says one of the innovators—Keflom Michael from ‘Recycling for Development’.
Great importance for school system
In practice, an IT manager from the schools travels to LIAE’s headquarters in Asmara about once a month and receives updates of various publications and additions to the social reference tool, Wikipedia. Updates are saved on a flash drive which the IT manager takes back to the school where the latest updates are added to the database.
The equipment comes from DTU, which over the last five years has amassed a total 2,000 used computers, keyboards, telephones, screens, mouse devices, network equipment, and servers in containers and sent them to Eritrea. Under the motto ‘Narrow the Digital gap’, schoolchildren, teachers, and health personnel in five provinces of the country have benefited from the equipment in schools, libraries, and hospitals.
“The used DTU equipment is very important for the school system in Eritrea. It’s a win-win situation for DTU and Eritrea’s education system. While primary and secondary schools were previously the main recipients of the equipment, the collaboration has now been extended to include higher education and research institutions,” says DTU Systems Engineer Sahle Berhane, IT Service.
This article was first published on the 29th of April on DTU.dk