Over the past few weeks, a team of Year 11 students have been working with Microsoft on the “Afrika Sustainability Project”, where they have been conceptualising solutions to certain problems in Africa, using technology as a tool to help them achieve this.
The joint project with Habs Boys and Habs Girls has allowed the students to come together to discuss ideas under the overarching themes of Education, Healthcare and the Environment. After multiple meetings and calls, they came up with multiple solutions to present to Winjera and Shaun, both of whom are professionals from the Microsoft Africa team, and Mr Andrew Quinn who is the Global Director Industry Digital Strategy at Microsoft UK.
In their meeting with the experts, the students received constructive feedback about their ideas, which allowed the team to narrow down their solutions and develop their strategy.
Firstly, the team had to be aware of the development of schools in Africa, acknowledging that power and connectivity is not readily available in all places and remains very expensive. In this way, the students started to consider using low-usage solutions such as downloaded, offline resources on Microsoft devices that could be given to the team.
Secondly, the team realised that the best solutions were those that developed the creativity and collaboration skills for the young children in Africa, because these are undoubtedly vital skills that will aid them in their future careers. While the team reflected on this point, they established that coding is an indispensable skill to teach every student in the community.
A key piece of feedback to the group was that Africans love gamification and certification, and thus their solutions should incorporate aspects of a ‘points’ system or the ability to receive a certificate that is recognised in various other countries.
Finally, the team decided that we would most definitely be educating ourselves about the lifestyles of those living in Africa, by developing their knowledge about innovative solutions, such as optimising the recycling and reusing processes. Similarly, in this collaboration project, they could educate others about healthcare, such as fundamental first aid knowledge as well as essential IT skills such as Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint, using the fantastic resources from Microsoft Learn.
The team believe that all students are motivated and capable of learning; all they need are the chances to develop their knowledge and the resources to help them do so.
The team's strategy to move forward is to devise short-term and long-term plans where they can join up with the students in Africa. Their next step is to contact a leading school in Nairobi called Strathmore School. They will politely find out about any solutions that they have been working on to educate others near them. Next, the team will ask if Strathmore School would be interested in collaborating with them during a session during the summer holidays, with a hope of developing a relationship with the students for the Habs team's long-term plan.
Throughout the process, this has been a learning experience for all of involved with the project, and with the help of experts from Microsoft Africa, the team hope to gain a greater insight into the societies in Africa - to propose suitable strategies to tackle the problems.
This promises to be an inspiring and powerful project, and the students from Habs are very grateful to Mr Andrew Quinn, Winjera and Shaun from Microsoft Africa. This project would not have been possible without the support and encouragement by Mr Phillips, who has always been there to guide the team whenever they needed any help.
Article written by Yash (Year 11)
Team: Yash, Dhruv, Ari, Sia, Hattie, Maya, Jai, Dhilan, Aashni, Katya, Nicola