Category: News and Offers


Pakistan’s Education Emergency


The sad state of primary education in Pakistan has already been covered on our blog previously here while discussing the importance of teach for Pakistan initiative. Recently Pakistan Education Task Force released some mindblowing statistics about primary education and Pakistan’s role in UN’s MDG of education for all. The post on Pakistaniat.com has comprehensively covered this issue. Let’s join hands to act and lets start by signing the petition here. The education taskforce has called for “March for Education”: All Pakistan should talk bout during march is education (and cricket).

 

Pakistan’s flood of 2010 was the largest in the country’s history. We still haven’t  recovered from the incredible destruction of life, property and infrastructure that it left in its wake. No one can argue that if such a calamity were to occur year after year, the existence of the country would be in jeopardy. The economic impact of a 2010 like flood year after year is no different than the long-term consequence of illiteracy in Pakistan!

Continue Reading at ATP’s post.

Teach for Pakistan


It may well be the replica of our famous teach for America campaign buts its still warmly welcome. Its time to take things in hand before our time delay with developed world gets more than a decade. It’s the current generation which needs to stop this relativistic movement of the development frame of reference for developed world and Pakistan.

Our part of world is one facing immense problems of populations exploding exponentially and the development graph just doing, at best, to follow up a linear graph. Information Communication Technologies provide us with the platform to beat that ‘lags’ in development and population. Our neighbor India has already started to bridge the divides through their innovative technology solutions. They are trying to win the fight of Systems Vs Society by improving onto their systems.  TATA’s project of Computer Based Functional Literacy project is one of the epic examples of success stories which speak up for the case of use of technology in education. The project has been such a success that its being exported to Africa now.

If we do not act fast enough time will not stop for us! One of the classic problems with our system is the lack of means for us ‘expats’ to keep track of brilliant initiatives like Concern for Children where our capital can do marvels for little kids. Why do Indian cases make out to TED always? Simple ideas of educating the slum children, Dharkan 107.8 and Hole-in-the-wall are making a great impact. We need more work to develop platforms for investing in similar initiatives back home. Youth organizations like Pakistan Youth Alliance (comprising of ambitious youth) with their project Mashal are already delivering, all they need is your backing up and support.

All the message is. Teach for Pakistan

Else this will continue to happen to our next generations (forgive the sarcasm in the interviewer’s tone)

India’s prototype $35 tablet for students


India, known for the “world’s cheapest” innovations, unveiled a prototype of a $35 tablet computer aimed at students.

The project is part of an ambitious education technology initiative by the Indian government, which also aims to bring broadband connectivity to India’s 25,000 colleges and 504 universities and make study materials available online.

The government even plans on subsidizing the cost of the tablet for its student which would bring the purchase price down even lower. According to Kapil Sibal, the country’s Minister for Human Resource Development, this is their answer to MIT’s $100 computer.

The Linux-based computer at first glance resembles an Apple iPad and features basic functions you’d expect to see in a tablet–a Web browser, multimedia player, PDF reader, Wi-Fi, and video conferencing ability. It has 2GB of RAM (but no hard disk, instead using a memory card) and USB ports and could be available to kids from primary school up to the university level as early as next year.

(Sources: telecentre.org, cnet news, bbc news)

The computer has been named “Nano” and has been developed through joint efforts of IISc Bombay and IIT Chennai. Although the computer itself has been developed through the interfacing of various off-shelf components yet it has been engineered to be rugged and all-weathered, suited for use by children, and can be termed as a very promising innovation. The use of opensource software and cheap hardware, memory cards instead of hard-disk, makes the promise of $10 (aimed target) somewhat plausible.
Full Story

Village Connection Project (NSN)


Nokia Siemens Networks Village Connection is a connectivity solution enabling operators to capture the rural market potential by offering affordable voice and sms service to villages for a relatively low investment, serving a dual purpose: providing access and connectivity to remote areas while helping NSN to fulfill its target of reaching 5 billion mobile subscribers’ target. The project targets population with very meager income (less than $2 per day) and provides them affordable access by making it economically viable for the telcos (by significant reduction in CAPEX). The major advantage lies in the cut down in the prices of infrastructure and equipment.

“The coverage uses modular, compact GSM Access Points, comprising radio frequency, power and a standard PC with Access Point software.”

Such is the potential of this project that it introduces a new business model for telcos. Other vendors like Huawei is also considering the Village Connection solution. The local access point is generally installed with an omni-directional antenna with customer premises equipment (CPE) which can be hosted with a local entrepreneur, moreover, very little network planning is required. Diesel powered generators and solar panels ensure power access during electric supply outages. The solution ensures that local calls are switched locally and the billing services can also be pushed to local entrepreneurs handling the equipment.

The Village Connection solution supporting voice and SMS can be easily expanded into range of value added services. Internet Kiosks provide internet access to the locals through the village connection. The inherent IP connectivity of GSM access point ensures internet connectivity. The solution has been successfully implemented in many countries, starting from India and extending out to Tanzania (by Vodafone). The brochure of Village Connection can be accessed here.

Nokia Innovation Contest


Finally the details of the NOKIA Innovation contest as prophesized in our previous post are out. The contest details are available at the Official Site. The targeted contest for Pakistani Developers are here. The contest focuses on development of mobile applications.

Access all details regarding the contest here. read more

Computer clubhouses for kids


The Computer Clubhouse Network is an after-school community-based technology learning programme that aims to enable youth in underserved communities to acquire new skills and self confidence. Computer Clubhouses are designed to be places where young people, guided by adult mentors, use technology as a tool for learning and creative expression.

To date the computer clubhouse network is an international community of over 100 clubhouses spread over 20 countries. This after-school programme goes “beyond access” providing an environment in which young people can explore their own interests and become confident learners through the use of technology. The Clubhouse programme is aimed at supporting learning through design experiences, helping youth build on their own interests, cultivating an “emergent community” of learners and creating  an environment of respect and trust.

It leverages new technologies to support new types of learning experiences and engage young people who have been alienated by traditional educational approaches.

Initiated by Intel, the Computer Clubhouse Network operates as a programme of the Boston Museum of Science in cooperation with the MIT Media Lab. The computer club provides a paragon for ICT policy makers and organizations as it not only bring ICTs to use for education of children, but also, inspires them to create computer programs according to their own imaginations. It serves the underserved communities and empowers the youth for leadership by providing them with lots of digital opportunities.

Four countries in the Asia-Pacific region have joined the Computer Club network: India, Philippines, New Zealand and Australia. All the participating countries can be seen here. Where are we? Pakistan? Nowhere. For those willing to start a club of their own, the directions are here.


September 2009 – The Education Department, Government of Punjab, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Microsoft Pakistan under the “Partners in Learning” global program. Both parties will work cooperatively to participate in a four-year program from 2009 till 2013.

It was decided under the MoU that Microsoft’s and the Education Department’s associates will provide a joint report to Government of Punjab and Microsoft every 90 days. The report will provide an assessment of the purpose, progress and impact of ‘Partners in learning program’ in Punjab, Pakistan.

Michael Robinson, GM Public Sector, Microsoft MEA, flew down to Pakistan to personally thank the Chief Minster and Government of Punjab to select Microsoft as their partner in this massive reform program. Michael articulated that, “Microsoft has always believed that investing in education is the best way to help young people achieve their potential. We are hand in hand in this program with the Education Department, Government of Punjab to ensure that students receive practical education of information technology that can help them get jobs in the market.”

According to the MoU, Microsoft will provide four weeks of internship to 4 students suggested by the Government of Punjab every year through Microsoft’s certified partners in Pakistan. The chief minister said under the agreement, the Punjab government would invest Rs3 billion in three years and Microsoft Rs1.5 billion, and resultantly the government would earn a profit of Rs500 million.

Sayed Hashish, Director Public Sector, Microsoft North Africa, East Med and Pakistan, stated that, “Over the past few years, technology has become a need in every field. Microsoft, realizing the challenges that institutions in Pakistan face to implement a quality technology program, came up with a very unique plan. We believe that importance of computer literacy cannot be overstated as technology continues to accelerate globally. Hence, this partnership between Government of Punjab and Microsoft is a worthwhile approach and will help the education system here in the long run.”

Kamal Ahmed (Country General Manager) “Microsoft aspires to introduce education related solutions which will enable the community of students and educators to realize their potential through the power of technology and to remove the barriers in the effective use of technology”.

Source: Link

New Versions of XO Laptop by OLPC


XO-3 by OLPCOne Laptop per Child, a non-profit organization with a mission to provide low cost, connected, educational laptop to each child in the world, recently announced its product road map regarding new versions of their XO laptop with enhanced performance, lower power requirements and lower costs.

XO-3, the latest XO concept to be available in 2012, would offer an innovative design of a thin touch screen tablet at lower power consumption and cost and will have a target price of well below $100.

OLPC laptops are designed to be rugged, low cost, low power, connected laptops with special educational softwares for children of remote and underprivileged rural communities.

Nokia pledges $1m to ideas to help the poorest


Source: http://www.ameinfo.com/220649.html

Nokia has said it will provide $1m of funding to the developer comes up with a mobile product that helps improve the life of the poorest citizens in the world. Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, Nokia’s CEO, made the pledge during his keynote address at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. “We’ve seen what the tech community can do when it focuses on problems that are also opportunities. The competition is open top hardware and software designs, with the winning idea being chosen by a panel of Nokia staff and private venture capitalists. Entrants need to show that their idea would improve the lives of people earning less than $5 a day.

Can you match the offer? Anyone? From Pakistan?

Ofok Scholarships – World Networkers Program‏


Ofok Scholarship Program

World Networkers Program

Under the umbrella of Ofok Human Development Initiative, Ofok NGO respectfully lunches the World Networkers Program, offering 500CCNA course scholarship to youth worldwide from the Cisco Networking Academy.

According to analyst firm IDC, demand for IT in the Middle East is expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of more than 16.9 percent till 2009. According to current trends, the demand for qualified network engineers far exceeds the supply. Ofok NGO is lunching the World Networkers Program is a step toward narrowing this gap through providing well-skilled networkers to the global market. The WNP Scholarships will be awarded to 250 international applicants especially from the developing, least developed countries and countries in transition who wish to complete their tertiary education in the communication technologies (CNAP) and related fields.while the other 250 will be from the Egyptian applicants (check eligibility and selection criteria section).

WNP includes IT – Essentials and Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) courses from Cisco Networking Academy, that will be delivered will Blended Distance Learning BDL – Check CCNA BDL VLE Guidelines.

WNP Training Program will be in many Language

Eligibility and Selection Criteria:
Applicants should be:
1. Aged between 18 – 25 years old.
2. Good in English.
3. Undergraduate or graduate student.
Ofok NGO take in consideration that most of the awarded applicants must be from the Developing and Least Developed Countries without any discrimination based on race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, sexual orientation, disability or marital status.

Timeline:
Application form submission is open from 14 March 2009
Application form submission deadline 1May 2009
Selection Exams 21 March
For more information and submit an application please visit http://ohnet.ofokngo.org

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