Seventeen months later: TwitterKids of Tanzania
This is the second of a series of two follow-ups on educational initiatives that began roughly a year ago. What do these projects have in store for Africa? What changes have been made to keep these efforts in motion?
In October 2009, a group of Class 5 students from Shepherds Junior School in Arusha, Tanzania took the Internet by storm when they signed on to Twitter. They are affectionately known as the TwitterKids. My initial reaction was unequivocally positive, noting how:
- it’s amazing how a school can be realized, built, and connected to the Internet within 1 year
- non-traditional thinking will be needed to effectively harness the power of technology in African schools
- raising capital through story-telling/sharing efforts could be the next big thing
Fortunately for both the children and the rest of the world, the energetic Tweets continue nearly one-and-a-half years later. The twenty or so students, who are currently in grade 7, intermittently sign on and share their excitement with the world. Since December, six students – about one-fourth of the original class – have actively used Twitter. Although the children promised at least one Tweet per day (along with two weekly Tumblr updates) upon entering the program.
Epic Change, the nonprofit behind the TwitterKids, is still going strong with a number of endeavors. The Epic Change submission for the 2011 PitchIt! Challenge sums up the successes of this “ethical capital” program:
In three short years, with countless hearts and nearly $160,000 invested, our prototype project in Tanzania has become one of the top three primary schools of over 120 in Arusha, Tanzania, and has grown to serve nearly 450 children. Financial capital is enough to build buildings; only ethical capital is enough to imbue cold stone walls with purpose, meaning & real possibility.