Kim Nooij Tech Support

How technology can contribute to personal growth

Silently he sits next to his best friend in the upper lecture hall of the three-storey university building in Tamale. The friend with a laptop. Himself with pen and paper. WordPress is noted with the absorbing power of eagerness. WordPress. A widely used content management system that lets you to create a website easy and quick. <! – More ->

Matthew comes from Nandom, a small town in the North West of Ghana. After receiving his high school diploma, he moved to Tamale, the capital of the northern region and was admitted to the Polytechnic. The only place in Tamale for affordable higher education. His interest in computers and technology did Matthew decide, in addition to his training, to become a member of Tech Support Ghana.

Tech Support Ghana is a community active in the field of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and creates jobs through a combination of practical training and involvement of businesses. This answer to the harrowing gap between unemployed youth and the needs of local businesses in information and communication technology skilled personnel and related services arose more than one and a half years ago out of a unique gathering between Kenedy Kubuga (Bold Tech), The International Institute for Communication and Development (IICD) and myself.

Create local opportunities

High unemployment, particularly among youth creates a pressing social and economic challenge. At least 25% of young people are unemployed and the Ghanaian education system is inefficient and fails to prepare young people to succeed in the job market. Since Accra has more options, unemployment leads to tension between the north and south of Ghana. There is economic migration and the likelihood of criminal activity increases when there is a lack of income and the feeling of being excluded from the job market.

The young generation fortunately has a lot of positive energy. Humour, hope and a yearn for a better future is the reason why these young boys and girls come together. It is a powerful movement with the potential to shape their own lives independently.

Tech Support as the alternative

Tech Support therefore began in 2013 with just an extension cord, a projector and an informal atmosphere with a practical training. A training linked to real jobs to bridge the gap between theoretical and practical skills and local capacity building in order to prevent the loss of jobs and economic migration. It is an alternative to expensive and theoretical education in Tamale and at the same time a reliable network of junior and senior technicians is established.

2013

In no time the group grew from 12 personally recruited and enlisted young people up to 30 members and within 8 weeks 3 sites, fully developed returned to the customers. The euphoria was immense and confidence in their own abilities, spontaneously grew new initiatives. There were 7 personal websites being realized, guest lectures held, events organized, friends invited and a logo, website and Facebook page being set up. Just before the close of 2013, the development of a school management system, a major project by the International Institute for Communication and Development (IICD), was awarded to Tech Support.

2014

In 2014, the course offerings greatly expanded and together with (local) partners Tech Support worked hard to develop the School Management System and to implement the system in four schools in the northern region of Ghana. In 2015, the system will be installed in 21 schools and Tech Support will be working together with Butterfly Works and Bibir Ghana to establish the seventh BITS Digital Design School, the first one in West Africa!

“Through Tech Support, I have gained a lot of knowledge from others and I learned how I can create a website with WordPress within a few weeks time. I do it because it can help me in setting up my own company or accomplish a client assignment and I believe Tech Support can positively change my life. “

Matthew

Tech Support’s approach combines the Ghanaian way of living together (sharing is caring) with the weight of local ownership and pro activeness so that all members can contribute to the development of the group and take advantage of self-made employment through practical, on-the-job training. It is an honest, bottom-up and on reality-based initiative, promoting economic development inland.

And Matthew?

Matthew wrote everything down and built, using a computer in an Internet café, his own website within several weeks. He managed to get this website working on the laptop of his best friend and got to present it at an official ceremony to the public. Matthew participated in several courses that provided him with technical and teaching skills and connected him with like-minded colleagues.

At present, Matthew is one of the familiar faces of Tech Support. It is because of his commitment and dedication that made him an inspiring trainer for new members and allowed for him to participate in commercial contracts that helps financing his last year at the Polytechnic.

Kim_Nooij_E-Learning_Africa

FOSS at E-Learning Africa

Finally, at the last day of E-learning Africa (a conference held in Uganda in May 2014 on ICT and education) during the last session of the conference, the conversation turns towards free and open source software (FOSS). Foss is free open source software and does not include high licenses fees and anyone is freely licensed to use, copy, study, and change the software in any way. The source code is openly shared so that people are encouraged to voluntarily improve the design of the software.

A positive attitude towards FOSS in education is seriously recommendable. The average age in Africa is 19 years old and only 6% enrolls in higher education. The main barrier to access education is money and given the fact that the population is going to double in the next ten years, efforts to close the gap between education and enrollment are urgently necessary.

The session, led by Sarah Kiden, points out why we should all use open source software in education, because FOSS:

  • decreases software costs
  • increases network security and stability
  • is accessible for everyone
  • is often free of costs
  • protects privacy
  • gives users more control over their own hardware

If you got inspired during the presentation, here are some open source alternatives to the more mainstream platforms, tools and software, shared by Sarah Kidden during E-learning for Africa 2014:

Operating systems

Linux (Ubuntu, Solaris, CentOS)

E-learning

Moodle, Pachyderm

Cloud Services

Own Cloud

Library System

Koha, EzProxy, Dspace

E-mail

Zimbra

Ticketing/Helpdesk

OSTicket

Phones/VoIP

Elastix

Network Access Control

Packetfence

Documentation

NetDot

Authentication

OpenLDAP

Oh, and if you feel like you want to find many more open source alternative, please visit
this Wikipedia page