According to a October 2004 article in Computing Magazine, almost 99 per cent of children in Africa leave school without having touched or seen a computer in the classroom.
Computer Aid International is trying to do something to change that. And with help from its friends it has already shipped over 45,000 PCs to more than 90 developing countries since its beginnings in 1998.
Over 25,000 of those computers have gone to educational institutions and the rest have gone to community organizations working on problems such as HIV/Aids, environment, human rights, and primary healthcare.
In stating its goals on its website, Computer Aid International says that it aims to:
- Increase the number of refurbished computers being re-used overseas
- increase the number of UK organisations donating their used IT equipment for re-use overseas
- identify and work with those organisations in recipient countries able to derive maximum value from refurbished computers
- provide training and work experience in computer repair to people from socially excluded communities in our workshops in the UK
A registered charity operating out of the UK, Computer Aid International was set-up in 1998 in response to the great need for quality and affordable access to computers from the developing world.
When businesses in the UK upgrade to newer and more powerful hardware for their IT demands Computer Aid International encourage them to donate their old PCs for re-use in schools and community organizations in the developing world.
Because security and confidentiality is of great importance to these donors Computer Aid International provides a high-level decommissioning service to its donors, and as a consequence the much-needed PCs are is donated with the confidence that no information will be inadvertently shipped with the hardware.
This is able to be done because Computer Aid International has formed a partnership with the leading data removal specialist, and Ministry of Defence approved, market leaders to thoroughly data-wipe the donated machines to the highest standard.
After the hard drives have had all of the data removed the PC is then fully refurbished and tested before it is boxed and made ready for shipment to the developing world.
And even though Computer Aid International is rightfully proud of having donated 45,000 computers to the developing world it knows that there are close to 3 million PCs decommissioned in the UK every year.
Partnering with donor companies in the UK such as:
· British Airways
· Tokyo Mitsibushi
· PeopleSoft UK & Eire
· HM Treasury
· National Audit Office
· Christian Aid
· Enfield Council
Computer Aid International has been able to donate computers to organizations such as:
· Computers for Schools Kenya
· World Links Zimbabwe
· World Links Rwanda
· British Council Cameroon
· Christian Relief Development Association, Ethiopia
· SchoolNet Malawi
· SchoolNet Mali
· Computer Education Trust, Swaziland
· Fantsuam Foundation, Nigeria
· CIDA University, South Africa
To cover the cost of collecting, testing, refurbishing, and packing of a single computer Computer Aid International charges £39 plus shipping per PC. Once an organization has submitted their application, Computer Aid International provides them with an invoice for the full cost, including shipping.
When Computer Aid International receives the payment of the invoice from the applicant organization the computers are transported to its shipping agent who then take on the responsibility of shipment to the appropriate destination.
There are many projects that receive computers form Computer Aid International, but below are brief outlines, taken from Computer Aid International's web site, of two of those projects.
Computers for Schools Kenya
"Computers for Schools Kenya was established as a non-profit organisation to facilitate the productive and sustainable use of computers in education on a national level in Kenya's secondary schools.
"Since August 2002 Computers for Schools Kenya has installed over 1,000 high-quality, fully refurbished PCs into 54 Kenyan state secondary schools. Computers for Schools Kenya also advises upon and assess the preparedness of each school's infrastructure and provides ongoing timely technical support to recipient schools.
"Who benefits? The project will ensure an equitable balance of distribution between rural and urban schools, girls and boys institutions and ensure the inclusion of marginalised sectors, and schools for children with disabilities.
"Over the coming months Computer Aid International International (through the generous financial support of a UK trust) will provide 450 professionally refurbished Pentium II and Pentium III computers needed for this project
Computer Education Trust (CET), Swaziland
"CET was established in 1998 to facilitate the productive and sustainable use of computers in Swaziland schools.
"Before this project began, over 90% of students graduated from the state high school system without ever having seen, let alone had the opportunity to make use of a PC in the classroom.
"Who benefits? Under this project, Computer Aid International has provided 2,186 PCs to CET with which it has equipped schools across all regions in Swaziland. This represents a move from almost zero coverage to over half of all secondary schools in the country equipped since the project commenced in August 2000.
"This project is making a massive difference to the quality and scope of education provision in Swaziland and provides an exemplar model of refurbished PC use that is transferable to other countries in the developing world."
Computing Magazine has also stepped up to assist in a big way. The magazine is asking its readers to pledge unwanted PCs to be donated to Computer Aid International, so that PCs, as Computing Magazine puts it, "can have a second life in the developing world."
And hundreds of private and public sector IT managers have answered the call.
Computers are necessary in today's world, and they are not cheap. So, if you can get behind this effort, go to Computer Aid International's web site at: http://www.computer-aid.org/
and check out what they are doing.
And while you are at it, show a little love for Computing Magazine and Computer Aid International's other sponsors that you can find listed on their web site.