Where There Is No Google
Two years ago, I moved to rural Eswatini and quickly realized that it's impossible to "just Google it" when your community lacks infrastructure for reliable internet connection. The high cost of internet usage also factors into its accessibility to rural communities. I was not alone in this observation. Enter information repository, Wikipedia. For years, Wikipedia had done regular backups of its entire database which includes millions of articles and images spanning all the world's knowledge. Some time ago, Wikipedia decided that they would make these database backups available for download to the public. Several programmers began to design programs that could read and make sense of those Wikipedia datasets. From these efforts, we have Kiwix, an offline browser and content reader. Kiwix turns Wikipedia datasets into a fully functional version of Wikipedia offline.
After playing around with the program, I
presented it to my principal and teaching counterpart. They were impressed with
the Kiwix functionality and agreed that we needed these resources in our
school's computer lab. This past January, we installed the Kiwix software and
several Wikipedia packages, and began teaching our students how to use the
software. The students are excited because they can learn about anything that
piques their interests. Teachers are excited because they have another resource
to prepare lectures and lesson plans. My principal exclaimed his excitement
after seeing students use the software saying, "this is almost like we
have the internet".