[Fsf-friends] Comic book from Namibia offers more than funny plots

Frederick Noronha (FN) fred@antispam.org
Sat Nov 19 04:17:41 IST 2005

Comic book from Namibia offers more than funny plots

Comic book from Namibia offers more than funny Plots
By Kittipong Thavevong, The Nation, Bangkok (Thailand)
(17/11, 20:00) An award-winning project by a non-profit group aims to
entice students and teachers into the digital world.

It’s been a common problem all over the developing world. While young
students find the computer alluring, their teachers (many of whom are
not very familiar with information technology) are not so keen in
getting into the computer lab.

A non-profit organisation in the southern African country of Namibia
comes up with an innovative approach to the problem. SchoolNet Namibia
is taking a bold new step to entice teachers and students into the
digital world. It produces and distributes a comic book that spreads the
word about the ways that computers and the Internet can transform the
lives of students and teachers.

Listen up!

The English-language full-colour comic is called "Hai Ti!", which means
"listen up!" in the local language and also sounds a lot like IT.

Two volumes of the comic book have been produced. The first edition of
"Hai Ti!" was included in the April 26th edition of The Namibian Youth
Paper. Page-by-page inserts of Volume 2 will be distributed in newspaper
on a regular basis for the remainder of 2005, and subsequent volumes
will be published for the next few years, according to the project’s
website (http://www.schoolnet.na/).

The online version of both current volumes of the comic book is
available at http://www.schoolnet.na/haiti/index.html.

Award-winning project

The award-winning project is also introduced to participants and
visitors of the World Summit on Information Society being held in Tunis,
the capital city of Tunisia. In a parallel event held during the summit,
SchoolNet Namibia was third-place winner in the Community Engagement
Category for the 2005 World Summit Youth Award.

SchoolNet Namibia, which provides Internet service, hardware and
training to Namibia’s schools, teams up with software development
company Direq International and comic-media production house Strika
Entertainment. The project is funded by the Swedish government.

A more effective approach

"Our numerous letters, manuals and trainers have not been very effective
in bringing teachers into the computer lab. So we decided to build a
character-based drama around the SchoolNet team and teachers and
learners at a remote rural school in Namibia," said executive director
Joris Komen. He said the comic book aims to teach the reader the skills
to cut, copy and paste, and use office tools such as word processors and
spreadsheets, as well as the Internet, regardless of the software
platform (free/open or proprietary).

Technically-savvy young staff of SchoolNet drew from their own
experiences to craft the comic book’s narrative, which is designed to
address teachers’ fears of exploring the digital world.

Starting from basics

With a great storyline, "Hai Ti!" teaches computer basics like how to
use "shortcut" keys to copy and paste texts instead of working the way
through the programme’s menu with the mouse. 

The comic tells how to get connected to the Internet and how to use a
"search engine" (a website that allows users to search for information
they look for), in addition to addressing more difficult issues around
Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), such as Free and Open
Source Software. 

Brief notes on comic panes offer explanations on technical terms, such
as "blog" and "copyleft" (copyright-free material), and provide helpful
information for the reader, including where they can find particular
software on the Internet.

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