Cyber Café.

[Pulaar pron. / siː-ber ˈkæfeɪ/, Internet Café]

Mako’s population is young, around 1000 children and teenagers live in Mako. However, not all of them go to school, nor is the school equipped well enough to serve this large student population. Together with the student council, a group of teachers and some parents we got together to talk about the biggest challenges in education.

Lack of resources and access to media: The lack of resources and access to media is a major challenge for teachers and students of all ages. Students have problems with orthography, due to the little handouts and print media available to them. Furthermore, due to the lack of books and the internet learning is generally limited to notes taken during lessons. Moreover, teachers are confined in the preparation of classes and translation of the required material for the BAC into suitable lessons due to this lack.

Lack of motivation and perspectives: The lack of motivation and perspectives is an especially crucial part in 4em and 3em (students aged 14-17), when parental influence on students decreases. The absence of a sufficient stimulus is not only leading to little effort put into schoolwork but to high dropout rates.

Lack of workplaces with illumination: The lack of tables, chairs and light available outside of school hours, makes it difficult for students to put the necessary effort into homework and class preparation outside of school hours. Since most students are obligated to help their parents with house- or agricultural work in the afternoon, only the dark evening hours are left for schoolwork. Mako and the surrounding villages are not connected to the electricity supply system, hence most households’ light sources are limited to flashlights and candles.

To tackle these three hurdles the project evolves around the construction of a study hub, located in the village centre, will provide students and teachers with illuminated workspaces and access to a small library, featuring course relevant textbooks, dictionaries, etc. While the workspaces will be available free of charge, they will adjoin a cyber café. Established as a for-profit business (to ensure financial sustainability) the cyber café will provide the community with access to computers, internet and printers. The study hub will offer computer competence classes to prepare students for further studies at the university level. With access to more resources and learn platforms as well as the possibility of printing we hope to increase student’s motivation. Available walls (indoor and outdoor) painted with maps and other murals will help creating a positive and progressive learning environment. We have started to train some of the core group members in IT competency and have found a suitable area for the project to be conducted. Architecture student Micha Kretschmann has provided us with comprehensive plans for such a facility. Furthermore, we have collected data on passing statistic and graduation rates.

Currently there is no suitable facility in Mako to execute such a project, as the school is located outside of the village centre and no other building has the capability of hosting such a spacious study hub. With an overwhelming support of the community we are currently constructing and equipping a facility that includes a 30m² indoor space, hosting the cyber café, a 9m² office for storing the necessary electricity units, and a roofed outdoor study space with additional tables and chairs. For constructional reasons the complex will additionally include a 9m² sales spaces, which will be let to a third party, generating additional income for the cyber café. As previously mentioned, Mako is not connected to the electricity supply system, meaning that the cyber café will be reliant on electricity produced by solar panels on the building’s roof. The café will be equipped with donated laptops (more energy efficient and easy to stow away). Executive manager of the Cyber Café will be my local partner Mohammed Ba, who has been part of the venture from the beginning and even since trained with the usage of computers.

Challenge

Education

Pollination

Root Cause Analysis

Provision

Planning & Training

Take-off

Community

​Outlook

Successfully executed this project will provide students and teachers with an internet connection and study spaces, build cross cultural relationships and motivate students. With that we anticipate the project to have a positive influence on increasing passing rates and decreasing dropout rates at the Lycee de Mako, as well as improve the quality of the lessons. Looking at the wider community of about 3500 people living in the area of Mako I hope that the project will provide the community with the necessary resources to reach out for more development support, whereby partnerships with schools world-wide will make for valuable connectors.