HistoryWhen we began working in Uganda, we came with a vision of partnering with schools in the area and providing them with computer labs to help train their students. We engaged in six such projects: one in Kenya, one at St. John’s Wakitaka in Uganda, and three for AOET in and around Jinja Uganda.
The school in Kenya was the biggest success. There, equipment was procured locally, maintained locally and the program was run by locals. Hundreds of students were trained. All we did was send money.
The St. John’s project was a mixed success. We brought in 20+ used laptops, 12 brand-new desktop workstations, installed it and paid for furniture and power. Within a short period of time, we found the classroom in disarray. We found food and drinks in the lab, equipment was dirty, and all the guidelines we set forth in our training document were ignored. Eventually we removed the brand-new workstations and repurposed them, leaving the laptops. To this day, the staff of St. John’s is taking care of the laptops.
The AOET projects turned out the worst. That debacle is chronicled elsewhere on this site. We came to the realization that school computer labs are .. difficult. Equipment dropped in the hands of a school (whether the staff is trained or not) ends up destroyed in a very short period of time. The schools typically close their doors to outsiders when they get computers, and in the end, a large financial and time investment only ends up serving a small group. Now, we don’t do schools, but focus on community training centers which we can man with trained staff. Our doors are open to the community and to neighboring schools, and we get the biggest impact for our donor’s money.
We are experimenting with variations on this theme and are scoping locations and worthy recipients for smaller, localized training centers, but our crown jewel is the Hackers For Charity Computer Training Center in Jinja, Uganda.
About the Center
In poverty-stricken parts of the world, it’s no secret that job training is key to interrupting the cycle of poverty. Most job training programs focus on local trades: tailoring, wood working, farming, etc. However, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is an overlooked and understaffed job market, especially in underdeveloped countries where computers and technology trainers are scarce. But in many underdeveloped countries, like Uganda, the market for qualified ICT staff is set to explode thanks to broadband initiatives like the fiber lines running from Mombasa, which has already reached downtown Jinja, the site of our center.
With the stage set for a new job market, our goal is to provide world-class training of all levels to those that could not normally afford it. Since this is a non-profit community-based venture funded by outside projects (such as our Internet cafe and restaurant), our pricing model is extremely aggressive. Since most locals can afford to spend time in Internet cafes at a rate of 60 to 75 cents per hour, our pricing starts at only 50 cents per hour. We also offer scholarships to driven, dedicated individuals that can not afford this rate, and we offer free training to NGO staff, government employees, police officers and more. On any given month, 75% of our students train for free.
This model of training provides hands-on computer experience which sets our users apart from even ICT university graduates, most of whom have never touched a computer during their studies. We also provide training in the form of video-based CBTs and course materials. Video-based training allows students to take training at their own pace, and helps us keep costs down since we do not have to hire instructors. Unlike typical training business which can charge several months salary for a single course, we never charge for training. Students only pay for computer usage time, whether they access our training resources or not.
About Our TrainingOur e-book library gives students access to thousands of electronic computer reference and training books which litter our shelves in the West but are not available in most countries in Africa. We offer video training and certificate courses in Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Access, Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver and many other commonly used software packages. We also offer international certification courses found nowhere else in Uganda including CISCO INTRO and ICND, CISSP, Network+, Certified Ethical Hacking, and Mile2s certifications which cover penetration testing, wireless, secure coding, computer forensics and more. Armed with these internationally-recognized certifications, our students can land jobs located (virtually or physically) anywhere in the world.
Our course material is donated from generous private and corporate donors and due to bandwidth limitations, all content is stored locally on our servers within the center. Contact us if you are interested in donating content to our training center, or use the donation form to the right to make a financial donation.
Our current donors include:
- Michael Gregg of Superior Solutions, Inc donated a huge box of his highly-regarded certification test prep books and video-based training based on the CISSP, and other world-renown certifications.This donation retails for several hundred US dollars. – http://thesolutionfirm.com/
- The folks at Mile2 were gracious enough to donate their entire course library to our efforts, a donation retailing for thousands of dollars. We are working to integrate these excellent certification courses into our curriculum. – http://www.mile2.com/
- Peter over at The Academy was kind enough to donate his entire library of training videos! These videos cover all sorts of amazing system administration, security and networking topics in very cool bite-sized video chunks. – http://www.theacademypro.com/
- Lynda.com donated ten CDs of their training material including Microsoft Word 2003 and 2007 Essentials, Excel 2003 and 2007 Essentials, PowerPoint 2003 and 2007 Essentials, Access 2003 and 2007 Essentials, Windows XP Essentials and Windows Vista Essential, a donation retailing for approximately $500 US. – http://www.lynda.com/
- Total Training provided us with a discount on a large training purchase, which included their Adobe Creative Suite 4 Master collection and Advanced Design Bundle. The discount saved us approximately $250. – http://www.totaltraining.com/
- Laura Chappell donated 75 copies of her Master Library, covering some awesome network and protocol analysis topics. The set retails for thousands of dollars. – http://www.packet-level.com/
- The GCF offers some pretty slick training in lots of computer-related topics, and its all FREE! Its really great stuff. One of our volunteers in the US was kind enough to send a DVD of their courses. – http://www.gcflearnfree.org/default3d.aspx