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Beginning in East Africa, Tunapanda is explaining, downloading, and spreading a wide variety of free online courses and learning tools.
Jay Larson
2 Team Members

Short Summary: Bridging Digital Divides

“Maybe the next Albert Einstein, or the next Steve Jobs, is living somewhere in a remote village in Africa.” - Stanford Professor, and pioneer of online education, Daphne Koller at the 2012 TED conference.

Unfortunately, awesome online content can't help these future Einsteins without a bit of creative intervention. That's where we, you, and our partners here in East Africa come in. Lack of knowledge about online learning tools, and the inability to afford to download data (especially video) are two of the largest hurdles, both of which Tunapanda is working to solve.

We are two brothers in our mid-late 20s who believe that harnessing technology to spread education is key to creating the most awesome possible future. We've been incredibly lucky to live on 4 continents so far, and had access to great educations – and think everyone else should have such access as well. So we've started telling people in Kenya about the new free online learning tools and courses, downloading the ones we can, and distributing them for free. Kenya has state-funded education through 8th grade, so we focus on teenagers who can't afford to go to high school – there are hundreds of thousands here each year, and untold millions around the world. 25% of Kenyans in 8th grade don't continue to high school, and 40% of those finishing high school do not proceed to further education or training. There is also a severe shortage of teachers, particularly in the technology sector.

We aren't limiting ourselves to East Africa, just starting here – we hope eventually our system, or something like it, can be deployed anywhere in the world, whether deep in the Congo or in any city in our home country.


Problems & Solutions

Internet is very expensive relative to income in Kenya and much of the world, even if you have an internet-capable computer or phone. And while most people know about Facebook, hardly anyone knows that Khan Academy has the entire high school curriculum, or that they can learn computer programming from top professors for free on Udacity, Coursera, or edX. In rural Kenya it costs less to buy a DVD full of video than to pay for bandwidth to download it, and DVD players are more common than home computers – we're leveraging that fact to get around high internet costs.

We also spread and teach free and open source software, and teach kids about upcoming technologies like 3D printing, so they can both start dreaming about changing the world, and actually start doing it. We work directly with students, but focus mainly on training teachers so they can spread it without needing us. Using free and open source software is more practical than philosophical – people can't afford half of their family's annual income for an operating system license, and while pirating is widespread we'd rather avoid risking going to jail or wasting time, energy, and money in legal battles. Free and open source software is just as good, if not better, in most cases anyway.

Our tag line is “Bridging Digital Divides” - because we want to connect everyone with the valuable learning resources on the internet, and also help them come online and share their unique perspectives and local knowledge with the rest of us. They have a lot to teach the us “digital natives” too.


What We Need & What You Get

FYI: Tunapanda is a Swahili word meaning “we are planting,” “we are growing,” or “we are climbing.” It's not a fish-bear.

In our Phase 1, which lasted the past 4 months, we partnered with 3 different organizations and became intimately familiar with the problems here. We've been using online learning resources to continue our own educations for at least 2.5 years, and have taken courses on at least 4 platforms, so we used that experience to spread the right knowledge and courses.

We need at least $25,000 for Phase 2, which we expect to last 4-6 months. At least half of all money raised will go to upgrades at our partners' schools, starting with TIIT – a technology school in rural Elburgon that uses 12-year-old computers and has a half-finished dorm that could allow them to accommodate 15-20 more students. You can see TIIT and hear from one of their co-founders in our video above.

The rest will go to setting up Tunapanda's central hub in Nairobi, where we'll bring local teachers and students for advanced training, work with people on the internet (like you, perhaps?) who want to help us out in our forums, get set up as a 501(c)(3) based in the US, pay for local legal & visa fees, and begin spreading regionally. We've partnered with 3 groups, detailed on our website, and have 2-3 more in mind to begin working with soon. For example, the Duke-sponsored WISER school in a far-flung corner of Kenya teaches girls STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) skills but would like to put their computers to better use.

By the time Phase 3 rolls around, we hope to have more reliable forms of funding, like committed donors and grants, as well as an easily-replicable hard drive with an easily-understood path to mastery in various subjects. Then we hope to do some really cool stuff, most of which will be copied from successful project all over the world, or which people who work with us either online or on the ground have come up with.

Closing Remarks

If you visit our website you can see more information about our management and directors, as well as a snapshot of what's in our “education on a hard drive.”

You can help at no cost by sharing this campaign however you see fit, or going to an online learning platform and taking some courses – which helps the content creators we spread improve their products.

You can also go visit our forums and start sharing ideas, or meet people in your area who would like to join you in spreading all these great tools and courses to people who don't know about them or can't afford access.

Find This Campaign On
raised by 102 people in 1 month
55% funded
No time left
$25,000 USD goal
Flexible Funding This campaign has ended and will receive all funds raised.
Campaign Closed
This campaign ended on April 29, 2013
Select a Perk
  • $20USD
    Forever on Tunapanda.org

    This goes to everyone giving $20 or more. We'll set up a Phase 2 Funders page and put your name on it, if you want.

    16 claimed
  • $100USD
    Impact Newsletter Subscription

    For everyone giving $100 or more, we'll have our students write a newsletter, discussing what they've learned about technology and how it's used in their communities. You get a lifetime subscription. Seeing this newsletter get better will show that your donation has had an impact.

    25 claimed
  • $108USD
    "Dev Economics" Master DVD

    $100 + $8 materials, shipping & handling. We'll not only mail you a copy of Marginal Revolution University's "Developmental Economics" Master DVD, but make a full copy of the course (10-14 DVDs) and give it away in East Africa. The Master DVD includes all the videos and artwork to burn the full set, to watch on your computer, and the audio to listen during your commutes. Want more than 1? You can submit donations multiple times or order a 5-pack (see below)

    7 claimed
    Estimated delivery: May 2013
  • $258USD
    Autographed Master DVD

    $250 + $8 materials, shipping & handling. Professors Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabarrok, founders of Marginal Revolution University, have very generously agreed to autograph a limited number of the Master DVD cases for their excellent course on "Developmental Economics." Each claim on this perk includes a Master DVD in an autographed case and a donation of the full course (10-14 DVDs) in East Africa.

    2 out of 30 claimed
    Estimated delivery: May 2013
  • $525USD
    "Dev Economics" DVD 5-pack

    $500 + $25 materials, shipping & handling. If you want to receive multiple "Developmental Economics" Master DVDs (they make great gifts) the shipping costs per unit will be lower. All must be sent to the same address. See the $108 "Dev Economics" Master DVD perk above for more details. The 5-pack includes 5 entries for the 15 randomly-selected DVD covers autographed by Professors Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabarrok.

    0 claimed
    Estimated delivery: May 2013
  • $1,000USD
    Autographed Programmer T-Shirt

    During Phase 2 we will run a pilot programming course across various locations. 15-25 teenagers who currently don't know how to program will learn the basics, and then autograph your T-shirt. One could be the next Einstein or Jobs, you never know!

    0 out of 25 claimed
  • $1,000USD
    Autographed Designer T-Shirt

    Also during Phase 2, we will run a design course, and teach 15-25 students how to design using free software. Those who finish will autograph your T-shirt, which will include Tunapanda's current logo or a new one the students design.

    2 out of 25 claimed
  • $10,000USD
    Inspire a Dorm

    TIIT's future dorm has been sitting half-completed for over 5 years in rural Elburgon. We're going to finish it, and then put up a plaque with whatever name you want to call it, and your favorite inspirational quote - in both English and Swahili.

    0 out of 1 claimed
  • $10,000USD
    Inspire a Library

    Our partner group, ROCK (see website for details) has just secured a permanent location in Kibera, Africa's largest urban slum here in Nairobi. We're going to put some computers and other resources in it to help ROCK's kids get through high school and learn other skills. You can name the library whatever you want, and we'll put your favorite inspirational quotation on the plaque, in both English and Swahili.

    0 out of 1 claimed
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