Recently in Jamaica, the youth-led advocacy group Help JA Children launched a locally-designed application for BlackBerry. The app, named CARS (Child Abuse Reporting System) is the first in the Caribbean and the second such application in the world to be approved by Research in Motion for listing in its Blackberry App World. More on this in a later post.
We know that young people love their mobile technology… Here’s another great social use for teens from South Africa. You can read the article by Tania Page, and watch a couple of videos on Al Jazeera English here: http://blogs.aljazeera.com/blog/africa/south-africa-youth-tap-gender-app?utm_content=blogs&utm_campaign=Trial4&utm_source=twitter&utm_term=socialflow&utm_medium=tweet
A gender violence game doesn’t exactly scream fun, but it’s proving a hit with thousands of South African teenagers.
It’s a generation hungry for new knowledge – knowledge many in the western world simply take for granted.
It’s revealing that despite 25 years at the United Nations Development Programme it wasn’t until Anne Shongwe, the app’s developer, actually started asking young Africans about their perceptions of the opposite sex and how they coped in a sexual relationship that she realized education was the key.
Shongwe left the UNDP determined to break free of its bureaucracy and forge her own path by addressing gender based violence among young people.
But it was a big challenge to go from a good salary, with lots of support, to a start-up. Especially, as she freely admits, as she’s not that technically minded.
But she hired people with the right skills and a few years later she’s an award winner.
After winning the AppCircus 2011 competition in South Africa with Moraba, Shongwe was selected as one of the top 20 finalists to pitch her app to a live audience at the Mobile Premier Awards in Barcelona, Spain.
She did so alongside Ghanaian app developer Robert Lamptey of Saya and Ugandan app developer Christine Ampaire of Mafuta Go!
They were the first African app developers to pitch at the awards. Ampaire’s Mafuta Go! won the Ringmaster’s Award. Her app, inspired by Uganda’s petrol crisis, lets users find the nearest petrol station with the cheapest prices.
Shongwe and her team at Afroes have a major challenge looming. She’s returning to her native Kenya to develop an app to prevent young people from being manipulated into causing trouble at next year’s elections.
The last ballot was marred by violence and she says it’s believed a lot of the trouble makers were youths who’d been paid off or talked into taking to the streets.
So, the app is meant to educate them so they can identify when someone’s trying to use them for their own gain.
And this story from Zambia from the great organization Room to Read gives us a lesson on the importance of literacy… We should go to all lengths possible to ensure our children can read – and enjoy reading, too. Lack of resources is no excuse. Here is a great quote on the website from former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan:
“Literacy unlocks the door to learning throughout life, is essential to development and health, and opens the way to democratic participation and active citizenship.”
Chimbundire Basic School in Katete never had a library, but its teachers and administrators didn’t let the lack of resources get in the way of ensuring the highest possible quality education for their young students. With only a few books, the school implemented a reading program once per week, and held story sessions under a tree on the school grounds.
When our team in Zambia first visited the school and saw the enthusiasm for reading of the school’s 1,000 students, we knew we wanted to partner with Chimbundire Basic to build a library. With more books and trained librarians, we thought, imagine what they could do!
For this project we would have to start from scratch. An average class size of 114 meant that there was no existing space to spare for bookshelves, so we prepared to build a brand new structure that would both house a library and provide additional storage for the school.
While our team got to work on the building design, the community leaders in Katete met to discuss how they could commit a significant portion of the project costs (as is required by Room to Read), knowing that their extremely rural setting did not provide many resources.
In the end it was decided that each village served by the school would take an entire day molding bricks for the new library. The next day, the neighboring village would do the same, and the rotation would continue until enough bricks were made to finish the project.
After the building was complete, Room to Read provided brightly-colored children’s books to stock the shelves along with chairs and desks for library activities. Then we conducted training (the first of several to take place over the next three years) for three teachers, a school administrator and one member of the community on library management skills like book leveling and community engagement.
In the months since Chimbundire Basic got its first-ever library, things have started to change. More committed than ever to ensuring all children in their community gain a solid foundation in reading, the school’s teachers have begun to take time out of classroom instruction to conduct reading activities in the library. “It is so lovely to have our reading program conducted there,” says the school’s head teacher.
A weekly library period for each class to read and check out books has been implemented school-wide, and the facility remains open before and after school so that students can enjoy the new books in their free time as well. Some of the students still like to take books out to read under the old “library tree,” but they no longer have to.
Learn more about our work in Zambia.
http://www.roomtoread.org (Room to Read website)
http://www.theelders.org (The Elders – independent global leaders working together for peace and human rights, including Kofi Annan)
http://www.google.com/literacy/ (The Literacy Project: Google)
This story may sound familiar to some of us. Many Jamaicans have the unfortunate habit of talking very loudly on their cell phones, no matter where they are or who they are with. We have to endure all the details of their gossip, latest purchases, family issues, boyfriend/girlfriend issues, etc., whether we like it or not. Of course, Jamaicans love talking (and talking on the phone) of course; cell phones were an absolute godsend when they arrived on the island – both for rural dwellers who were virtually cut off before, and for the poseurs who want us all to see and admire their latest model phone. And of course, to hear their very uninteresting conversations, which often sound more like a monologue (I sometimes wonder if there is someone on the other end of the line at all…)
Anyway, I came across this delightful piece in the Sunday version of the Zambia Daily Mail. I think it will make you chuckle… (and of course, we all know what a vuvuzela is – again, whether we like it or not)…
(I’ve added a few links to other news from Zambia below. And I’m sorry, I don’t know what the African words are in the article below…although I can take a guess at some of them…)
MY THOUGHTS ON SUNDAY with CHARLES CHISALA
A READER called me a few days ago and asked me to write about showy commuters and other travellers who have the habit of talking loudly on the phone while travelling on public transport without caring about the feelings and rights of the other passengers.
I am sure you have also travelled with such uncultured and backward passengers, who know nothing about public place etiquette.
The reader narrated how a minibus she was travelling on recently in Lusaka from the city centre to one of the townships picked up a woman on one of the numerous stops that dot the route. As soon as the woman got on the bus, the reader recounted, all hell broke loose.
“Charles, can’t you write about these people who broadcast their personal affairs while on public buses without any regard for the other passengers? It’s just too much! Why are some people not ashamed to disturb the peace of the other passengers, who are total strangers, by talking loudly on their mobile phones for long periods?” she complained.
“Immediately this woman got on the bus she started dialling one number after the other. She managed to get through to one of the numbers and started talking with the other person at the other end of the line at the top of her voice, shouting and laughing all the way from Kamwala to Chilenje South. I was very disappointed with that woman because she kept talking even when it was clear that most of the other passengers were angry with her,” she said.
The reader said several passengers looked at her angrily to express their displeasure, but the caller was not bothered. One would have expected her to read the facial expressions of her fellow passengers, but she didn’t care.
One young man who was unfortunate enough to sit next to her grimaced, frowned, grunted, snorted, fidgeted and even clucked his tongue in a futile attempt to help the woman realise that she was being a nuisance to the other passengers, but she just kept yapping, non-stop.
First she asked the other person how she was, then changed the topic to groundnuts, pumpkins, cassava and God knows what. When she ran out of farm produce to talk about she started gossiping about another woman and her husband.
Unfortunately, there was no-one courageous enough on the bus to challenge her. All the other passengers could do was look at each other, glare at the talker, murmur and pout.
Someone should have boldly told the uncultured woman that she is an ifontini or umututu. Who was interested in her cheap banter?
I remember one incident when I was forced to use public transport because I did not have fuel in my personal motor vehicle. I boarded this minibus at Melisa shopping complex in Kabulonga going back to the city centre.
There was this young man who kept making one call after the other talking and laughing as if he was the only passenger on the bus. And no-one was courageous enough to intervene except frown and murmur.
When we reached the Longacres bus stop, the bus stopped to allow some passengers to disembark and pick up others. All the while the bus was stationary the boy kept talking. By the time it started off again he was still shouting and laughing into his handset.
At Hotel Intercontinental I was so annoyed that I could no longer remain silent. The fool was seated just a seat ahead of me and I couldn’t just allow him to continue assaulting our ears.
“Bakalamba, I think we have had enough of this nonsense. You can’t be shouting all the way from Melisa without any respect for the other passengers. Can you call your friends or whoever you are talking with after you have left the bus?
“If you continue I will have no choice but to confiscate your phone and only give it back to you when you leave this bus.”
Several voices spoke out in support of me. Even the conductor who had kept quiet despite complaints from passengers about the exhibitionist caller joined the chorus.
“Kwati pali ka foni balelangisha (what a cheap phone to show off),” he quipped triggering a cacophony of contemptuous laughter across the entire bus. “Someone must have donated it to him,” I rubbed it in, and there were more sniggers as people looked at me gratefully.
The twit turned to look at the person who had just spoken and was about to mouth something silly, but froze when he saw my posture and physical build. I was ready to take him on. After all I had the support of all the other passengers and the crew.
But for the rest of the journey he just kept quiet, sulking.
I needed not remind that unmannered chongololo that in all the years I was a police detective I was a respected karamoja sprinter and purple belt holding Taekwondo karateka. I still have those skills and am ready to use them whenever necessary. He therefore did a wise thing to keep quiet because I was ready to kick and punch the bad habit out of him.
Another reader told me she is a cross-border trader based in Lusaka. She complained that every time she boards a bus at Nakonde on her way to Dar es Salaam there is a male trader from Ndola’s Masala market who talks like a machine. I have withheld his name but I am sure those who have travelled with him know the person I am talking about.
She said the man will talk all the way until he falls asleep, and when he wakes up he resumes the non-stop talking until he falls asleep again.
“The man is such an embarrassment,” the sister complained. “He will tell everybody how much money he is carrying, how much he has in the bank, how much he has left with his wife at home, what words he spoke to her when giving her the money and the latest household property he has bought.”
The sister said at first the other passengers used to just laugh at this talkative man, but he has now become a big nuisance.
Please, my fellow Zambians let us not make fools of ourselves by talking loudly on our mobile phones while in public places such as funerals or public buses. No one is interested in knowing your private affairs.
If you are travelling on a public bus and you want to make an important call make it short. Equally, if you receive a call and feel compelled to answer it, be brief.
But to some primitive people it is an opportunity to let all and sundry know what the call is all about without realising that they are actually being a nuisance. Don’t you people know that the people on that bus have different reasons for travelling?
Some of them are going for funerals of their loved ones, some for job interviews while others are going for weddings. So they are in different states of their minds and need peace so that they can introspect on their respective missions.
Who are you to disturb your fellow passengers with your silly phone conversations? Let me hear you again!
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