Archive Page 2

Welcome Hakimu to the team!

During the last few weeks, we have been searching for a local person in Zanzibar to grow our team, and to support Salum, our local teacher. Among other things, this means writing posts for the blog on a regular basis, managing the daily business of the school, handling financial and organisational stuff, and much more. The basic idea was to separate the teaching from the organisational work, so Salum can fully concentrate on his job as a lecturer, while the other person in the team will care about everything else.

Out of the many people we personally know in Zanzibar, we decided to invite Hakimu, who is one of the students of the first class of 2010 and also a former student of the Zanzibits school of film and multimedia, to become the newest member of the Zanzicode team. During our stays in Zanzibar in 2008 and 2009, we got to know Hakimu as a sharp-minded, diligent and responsible person and we firmly believe that he is the right man for the job. Fortunately, Hakimu agreed to work together with us, so now we’re happy to welcome him as the newest member of the ever-growing Zanzicode team!

Now over to you, Hakimu, for a short introduction of yourself:

“I was born on the 5th of December in 1985 in a poor family looked after by Mr Kombo by whom I was named as Hakimu Kombo. I started schooling in 1993 in the village of Nungwi, just 42km away from Zanzibar town. In 2008, I finished my secondary education and joined the Zanzibits school for film and multimedia in the following year. Then I had a clear and precise decision to apply for the Zanzicode class of web development and I was lucky to learn, good!

I gained a lot of knowledge from Zanzicode school, and I am really happy and proud about it. It’s a great treasure to develop myself and to help support others. I will be very close and make sure the Zanzicode school is progressing further equipping the Zanzibar youths with latest IT and web development technologies to its best. It’s my responsibilty to prepare something like a report on how the class is going on and to update the Zanzicode blog to let followers know what is happening.

Zanzicode is a unique web programming school in Zanzibar that tries to uplift the web knowledge and web awareness of Zanzibar youths to current standards, something which has enabled me to work very independently in a modern way. A school such as Zanzicode is important because it’s specifically dealing with IT and web development, and it covers all what has to be learned. What I have experienced especially in Zanzibar is that IT degree holders have less ideas about website development because in the college they don’t go deeper, and they are not prepared to design and develop dynamic websites. I press the idea to the donors and big IT companies to help support the Zanzicode project in Zanzibar – we really need to give a ‘go ahead’ to this initiative!”

Graduates’ voices

After the successful completion of the first Zanzicode class of IT and web development of 2010 on last Sunday, we’d like to give all of the graduates the opportunity to present themselves and tell us a word or two about their experiences during those past months; here we go:

Najim: Hello! My name is Najim Omar Khamis, I live in Zanzibar and I was born in 13th of August in 1985. I was a Zanzicode student, I am now doing my personal web projects. Zanzicode is the school I have been for those months, we started with HTML and CSS to PHP. I’m grateful to acquire this knowledge from Zanzicode. Many thanks to sponsors and partner organisation of Zanzicode. From now on I’m organizing my own projects so that I gain a vast experience.

Saleh: My name is Saleh H. Rashid, I was born in 14th October 1988, I’m happy that I have finished the course successfully. I now know how to design websites. Before Zanzicode, I thought website was like a giant lion that kill people, but now I’m proud that I’m a website experts. For now I’m designing a website for the ministry of sports in Zanzibar, a lot of thanks to zanzicode founders.

Abeid: Hi, my name is Abeid Machano Khamis, I was born on 25th May in 1985. I can’t believe that now I know something special like this, Salum always used to tell me ‘write your own codes, don’t only wait for what I giving you’. I tried and work hard because I was motivated and today I’m here, I have designed different website such as www.forodhanitours.com etc. Thanks, long live Zanzicode.

Fereji: My name is Fereji Nasir Fereji, I was born in 16th september in 1979. In the beginning of zanzicode I was nearly to give up, the reason is that I understood little of the code structures and thinking this is the wastage of time. My fellow urged me not to quit, I managed to attend until  I started to create my own web pages from scratch and finish it, this is good, now I can professionally do websites. Thanks to Salum, and thanks to the Zanzicode owners.

Bure: Bure Juma Khamis is my name, I was  born in Zanzibar in 26th December 1986. Zanzicode was very long journey actually, to have said this, the code language was really difficult to me. Salum was coming close to me to instruct and giving me ideas for the problem I had. I express my pleasures  to have this exceptional knowledge of going live online, too many thanks to Zanzicode and ict4d.at at all.

Hakimu: My name is Hakimu, I was born in 5th of December 1985. To me, Zanzicode school was the only school that I thought I would fullfil my dreams, and this has come true for ever, though I had no any idea about coding before my start to Zanzicode, when we started HTML and CSS, I thought things would be a bit simple, but I came to great darkness when we jumped to Javascript, ok! Because I’m interested and eager to learn these complex kind of things I have been doing great projects now and if I gave up I wouldn’t be much proud as I am. My heart generously goes to Zanzicode initiative and will be forever with it. Thanks, long live Zanzicode.

Ashraff: My name is Ashraff Seif Rashid, I was born in 11th January of 1986. I would like to express my sincere thanks to Salum and Zanzicode fathers, this is great project which we necessarily have to maintain and make sure it helps the Zanzibaris, especially those who have inferior study opportunities. I strongly suggest to my graduating fellows to help the other following us. Thanks.

Ghania: First of all, my name is Ghania M. Abdalla, I was born in Zanzibar, Tanzania in 1st of November 1988. I’m very that I have finished the course successfully, even though I have learned in a very difficult condition. Sometime you need to be motivated to reach success, I have nothing to pay to Zanzicode for what they have taught, God is with them and will pay them for their kindness. Thanks so much.

Graduation of the first class of 2010

Congratulations to the students of the first Zanzicode class of 2010 for their successful completion of the web programming course! On September 5th, a small graduation ceremony was held in the Zanzicode classroom to mark the end of this class’ studies. The event was organized by the eight graduates of the course in collaboration with their lecturer Salum and his assistant Hakim.

Salum started the graduation by congratulating the students and by thanking them for their hard work while learning to program during the last months: “This is really not so easy work, you have to congratulate yourselves for the hard work you have done”, he says. Besides that, he expressed his concerns about some of the students intending to work in different fields instead of IT and website creation / programming. Instead, he recommended working with the knowledge they have struggled for and to go on from where they are now.

The ceremony’s guest of honour was Mbarak Ali, who is a trainer of the Zanzibits school for film and multimedia in Zanzibar. He attended the event following an invitation of the students. Mbarak expressed his thoughts about the importance of learning IT and website creation / programming because of the world we are living in and urged the students to use the knowledge they have got to develop themselves. Also, he recommended to the graduates to update the knowledge they have gained during their time at Zanzicode because every day there are new things released in the IT field.

Every student was happy on this memorable day of receiving their certificates from Zanzicode and from the independed certification exams at www.w3schools.com which they all have passed flawlessly. They presented their gratitudes to Salum and to the Zanzicode management on behalf of Salum, but also their sincere regards to the sponsors of the Zanzicode project who enable this project to be progressing every day.

Many of the students did not expect to reach where they are today, for the beginning of the studies surely have been difficult and some of them were nearly to give up. As they have experienced a lot during their time here at the Zanzicode project, they came up with different ideas about how to improve the organisation of the next class and to enable the following students to be even more successfull with their studies right from the start. Here are some of these ideas:

  • There should be more students’ projects. This will bring the students together and help them focus on the their studies. To make this more concrete, it is advisable to do weekly or monthly tests, so the students will know where they are and the teacher will better understand their current level in learning.
  • In order to reduce the time spent for teaching HTML in the beginning of the course, it is advisable to create a list of resources about basic web technologies like HTML and CSS. This way, the students of Zanzibits (the school where some of our students come from) and interested people from outside have a way to inform themselves prior to applying for the Zanzicode class.
  • To find suitable students for the next class, announcements via the local media corporation of Zanzibar might be advisable. This will help spreading the word about the Zanzicode school and allow for a better selection of students for the next class.

The official part of the event ended by the guest of honour handing the certificates over to the students. After that, there was a dinner for the students as a final celebration of the graduation. Because this is the time of Ramadhan, the dinner was prepared at Salum’s home, where the students and the lecturer celebrated together in the evening.

Regards, Hakim

ADA Funding

As already announced on the ICT4D.at blog, after our application in March we received funding from the Austrian Development Cooperation – and of course we are very happy!

ADA

The funding amounts to 5000€ of our 9100€ budget. Therefore the funded period reaches from April 2010 to April 2010. The main items of expenditure are the salary of our teacher Salum, the purchase of new furniture and workstations and the monthly rent and electricity.

The course is already in full flow and our students are doing great. We have had some problems in getting pictures from our students so far, but we’re positive that we’ll be getting up more content soon. Amongst others we are currently working on a promotional video featuring interviews of local people. So make sure to check out our blog frequently.

Application for the ADA micro-project grant

To be able to carry on with our project for the coming year and to put it on solid feet for the long term, our mother organisation ICT4D.at has applied for the micro-project grant of the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) now. Our partner in this undertaking is the local organisation Aidnet Zanzibar, which has extensive experience in working together with foreign NGOs.
Amongst other things, the grant should enable us to set up a decent teaching environment – locally produced furniture and appropriate devices. With this investment we cover the one-time costs of our course and are able to carry on teaching for a while with minimum recurring costs.
We hope that we will receive the grant – to carry on providing quality web-programming education and media literacy in general for a growing local market.

Applications for the Zanzicode class of 2010

A few days ago, on Thursday, December the 10th, we ended the first phase of our application process for the class of 2010. All in all, there have been 35 applications – 14 by the current Zanzibits graduates, and 21 by otherwise interested youth, who had heard about us by word of mouth. When handing in their application forms, our aspiring students had a chance to find out more about what we actually do at Zanzicode and thus to prepare for the personal interviews that are going to take place next week.
For the 19 non-Zanzibits people, applying also meant registering for a written “exam” on the following Friday. In a 6-page questionnaire, we asked about motivation, personal resources and social background. We also had some not-so-easy questions about prior knowledge of computers and the internet just to make sure everybody has the required basics. Here are some pictures of our applicants during the test:
The results of these exams will help us decide who we want to invite for the personal interviews next week, where we will have to further narrow down the group of applicants to a final 8 to 12 people. Let’s see how it goes!

Our First Ever Graduation

This friday was the final of teaching for the Zanzicode class of 2009 and after almost half a year of studying, everybody finally got their graduation certificate. Here’s a picture of our proud graduates – from left to right this is Salum, Othman, Said and Bilal.
Congratulation, guys!, and thanks to everybody – students, lecturers, organisation and local supporters for their efforts during the last 6 months.

Preparations, preparations, preparations

Since the continuation of of our efforts in Zanzibar has been decided a couple of weeks ago, we’ve been working hard to organise and prepare for the classes of 2010. Here’s a list of some of things that kept us busy lately:

Classroom and Teaching-related:

  • Rent a classroom at Al-Riyami School.
  • Have the power lines rewired to use Zanzibits’ powermeter and UPS.
  • Have the room painted, it’s a mess!
  • Rent furniture for the class of 2009 until we get our own (see next item).
  • Find a cheap, skilled and reliable carpenter; order tables and chairs.
  • Get shutters for our windows to keep out the noise, dust, rain and heat.
  • Find a cheap second-hand projector in Europe (thanks, Carina!).
  • Find suitable computer hardware. We had a look at inveneo.org and ncomputing.com, but we think we’ll go with some more of those cheap laptops instead.
  • Test all available options for high-speed internet (result: both suck).

Going public:

  • Spread the word to the streets to find students for 2010.
  • Organize an application process for interested students: application exam, personal interviews.
  • Create a simple website at zanzicode.com.
  • Start a blog at zanzicode.com/blog (you’re reading it!).
  • Put some pictures online at zanzicode.com/photos.

Organisational:

  • Do a lot of boring budgeting work; most importantly have a proper estimation of the one-off preparational costs (which turned out to be more than we expected) and the monthly recurring costs for 2010 (which turned out to be less than we expected).
  • Find a good way to  handle money transfers from Austria to Zanzibar.
  • … and do a thousand more small errands: create certificates for the 2009 graduates, get a rubber stamp with the all new Zanzicode logo, find whiteboards, …

It’s not very hard work, but it’s still tiring, because everything needs a lot of personal interaction and therefore, time and effort. In case you plan to start a project in Zanzibar, my tip (which is doubtlessly biased and based only on my personal experience) is to not want too much in too little time, at least in the beginning. Better take it easy until you find the right people to work with, and even then, don’t push too hard: it will happen, just not in the way you thought it will, or in the time, or at the agreed price — but it will. Hakuna matata :-)

best, Fritz Grabo

ps: here are some pictures from our “Classrooms Preparations” Set on flickr to illustrate our current work. We’ll add more pictures to the set during the next 2 weeks!

Improvements

As I wrote in the previous post, our first class was okay as it was and for what it could have been, but surely it has potential for improvement. In short, here is what we think we can do better next time, and how:

Make sure all students are at the same level, regarding their prior knowledge of computers and the web. This time, we not only have personal interviews with applicants for our classes, we also have a written exam before those interviews to see if they have a good idea of how to work with computers and the web and to see if they know how to write HTML and CSS by hand. If someone is not exactly fluent in web technologies, but has the right resources and motivation to go for it, it’s not a problem: before we start regular classes in march, we have two months of compulsory introductory courses for everyone who needs them.

Have more students. The class of 2009 had only five students, and compared to the effort we put into the project, it’s sad to see that the output is not exactly huge in terms of people benefiting from it. For 2010, we’ve got more time to find fitting students and a new, bigger classroom suitable for 12 or even more students. Also, we believe that having more students actually makes teaching (and learning!) easier, as it will help us to do classic, regular, lecturer-centered teaching. Wait, this is a good thing? I hear my fellow lecturers in Austria screaming… With my tiny group of students, it was just too easy to be tangled up in private discussions. I’m sure this was mostly my fault, because I was taking it too easy sometimes. And as a lecturer, I should know that if I take it easy, the students will take it easy, too – especially so in Zanzibar ;)

Check students’ performance frequently. This could happen in the form of assignments, private project work with feedback sessions, or even bi-weekly exams. Our students should know that even though our education is offered free of charge, it does not mean that they don’t have to work for it. If necessary, we let single students go instead of having them slow down the others. Sounds though, I know. And it should be.

Have a local person as a lecturer. Every now and then, when it was just too hard to explain a difficult concept, the students would stop me for a minute and discuss it among themselves in their own language, Swahili. We don’t think it’s a good idea to switch from English to Swahili alltogether, but having a native speaker for the tricky parts sure will help. This, too, is why we’re very fortunate to have Salum Rashid, one of the graduates of our class of 2009, to work with us as a lecturer in 2010.

All in all, we hope these changes will help us to improve the quality of teaching and increase the number of students benefiting from our efforts. We’ll keep you updated on how it goes!

Fritz Grabo

Hello World!

The first round of the Zanzicode project draws to a close and we learned a lot. It’s fair to say that not everything was working perfectly all of the time, but then again, what is? ;-)

Most importantly, we have been able to confirm that the idea behind our project – to provide free education in Web Development to small number of selected students – is valid. There is both talent and demand for professional web work in Zanzibar, and we’re happy to help build personal careers and to further add to the local webdev scene by prolonging the project for another year in 2010.

The story so far: when Martin Konzett of ICT4D.at has been introduced to the Zanzibits School for Film and Multimedia during a visit to Zanzibar, he decided to support the project by organising an advanced class in the field of Web Development for Zanzibits graduates and otherwise fitting students. In July 2009, Dan Hamm came to Zanzibar as the first of three teachers and held seven weeks of introductory lectures. We’re very thankful to the Zanzibits team, who provided us with a room and hardware during the time – asante sana, rafikis!

We had a short drawback when Stefan Asseg, our second teacher, was unable to follow Dan’s lead due to an unfortunate sporting accident that happened only a few days before his planned departure. Luckily, as a part time university teacher and full time procrastinating student, I had a bit of free time during the summer to step in, giving “remote support” from Austria via Skype. This way, we have been able to keep the classes going before I came down to Zanzibar myself at the end of September as the third and final teacher.

It’s now two weeks before the end of the regular classes, and I think the project was a success so far. Sure, we had to downshift the speed of teaching a good bit (pole pole!) due to various reasons and hence did not accomplish to cover the whole of the planned curriculum – however, we succeeded to give most of our students a very good understanding of the basics of web development and I’m sure everybody is now able to keep on learning by himself. Also, we are thinking about ways to further support our graduates, so stay tuned for that.

Regarding ourselves, we also learned a lot and identified a number of issues that we will take proper care of during our preparations for Zanzicode 2010 – but hey, that’s another post :-)

best, Fritz Grabo


Zanzicode Logo

Welcome to Zanzicode

Zanzicode is a project lead by the Austria based NGO ICT4D.at. We provide free education in the field of Web Development to a small number of talented and motivated students of poor background in Zanzibar, Tanzania.

Our goal is to help build the personal careers of our graduates as well as to kickstart a local web development community.

Want to know more?