Most of us take for granted the fact that whenever we receive or buy a new personal device or handset, we are automatically able to connect to the internet via the vast infrastructure which dominates our landscapes and ensures that almost all of our locally and most densely populated towns and cities have enough connection for the entire community.
For off-grid communities, however, the problem is two-fold. Not only does a lack of access to devices and handsets mean that building a technology skillset is near impossible, but even when they do have the devices required, they cannot connect to anything. This double-edged sword makes the technology gap even harder to bridge than many believe – with consumers across the Western world conditioned to believe that a mobile signal and internet connection should be available anywhere and everywhere.
Here at Computer Aid, we know the reality – but we believe that even the most off-grid communities should benefit from the same access to resources as the rest of the world. Which is where our solar-powered learning labs and devices come in.
The problem and how the technology gap is worsening across off-grid communities
To condense the technology gap and its immense social and economic issues into a couple of lines, it is important to recognise that without technology, off-grid and marginalised communities are unable to upskill and access the resources that would allow them to become independent and financially stable in a modern world.
By granting connectivity and technology to these communities, both through local schools and directly to members of the community, not only can young people learn the languages and skills they need to be able to thrive in western environments if given the opportunity, but local businesses can access the tools they need to expand and understand the ins and outs of revenue, profit, and running a successful enterprise. As such, bridging the technology gap presents access to the skills that are required now and in the future – with our solar-learning labs and connect devices designed to facilitate and support this movement through the integration of solar panels for electricity and vast connect devices which ensure that the entire community can access the internet via a local network.
How Computer Aid is helping these communities through solar power and connectivity
Working with local partnerships, not only do we specialise in providing devices and refurbished computers to schools and communities; but we also help them to build and maintain the infrastructure required to keep them connected.
Once a community is identified through a local partnership, we construct a solar-powered learning lab which provides power to the computers that we supply, combatting the problem of non-existent or unreliable local connections. We then install a connected device which creates a network to serve the local area, uniting all the computers onto a single system for cohesive access to all the learning resources and tools required to upskill both young and older students.
And it doesn’t end there. Once a community has been granted the technological support they need to thrive, we keep in touch with the recipients to monitor usage and the benefits – just like we did with a recent community in Mexico City.
Through the provision of a learning lab for the Escuela Benito Juarez Elementary School located in the Reforma district, our aim was to develop ICT skills across the pupil base and use a combination of classic learning and immersions techniques to engage pupils of all ages in the tools and skills that they can use to benefit from a well-rounded education. A project in partnership with Dell Technologies, we expect that this particular project will benefit at least 5520 students.
For more information on our various projects across off-grid communities, and to learn more about the solar-powered learning labs and connect devices that we use as part of our solution, visit the Computer Aid website.