Camara and UCDVO to bring low-energy solar-powered computer education to Haiti

14 Apr 2015

A pupil at Jesus and Mary School in Gros Morne, Haiti learning how to type using the computers installed by UCDVO and Camara in July 2014. Photo by Beth Ratke

Following a successful partnership last year, Camara and UCD Volunteers Overseas (UCDVO) plan to install a next-generation low-energy computer lab in the rural town of Gros-Morne, Haiti.

The lab is designed as a virtual environment using energy-efficient Raspberry Pi computers as thin clients, low-energy monitors, and servers that have been specifically designed for use in solar environments. 

This development follows last year’s successful solar lab partnership in Gros-Morne between Camara and UCDVO.

Electricity in Haiti is incredibly expensive and scarcely available outside of urban areas. According to Camara, schools in the Gros-Morne Arrondissement previously had no electricity and it was too expensive to run computer labs using generators.

Last year’s solar-powered computer lab introduced Camara’s Edubuntu literacy and numeracy skill-building content to young students in Creole, French, and English, and this year’s lab will continue to provide low-energy ICT education through this programme.

UCDVO will provide a team of 25 volunteers to train teachers and conduct research on the community and educational impact of solar systems, while Camara Haiti also provides enhanced teacher training designed to support both mainstream and special needs students.

A memorandum of understanding was signed by Maureen O’Donnell, Camara’s head of European and Caribbean services, and Caroline O’Connor, manager of UCDVO.

Camara, an international charity that brings 21st-century education to disadvantaged communities around the world, currently operates seven education hubs in Kenya, Ethiopia, Zambia, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, Lesotho, Haiti and Ireland.

UCDVO is a registered charity engaged in environmental, educational, healthcare, construction and computer training projects in disadvantaged communities overseas.

Camara and UCDVO have worked together since 2009, starting with a project in Morogoro, Tanzania, to collect, refurbish and transport computers from Ireland to the region for computer education programmes.

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.