Three organisations target increasing digital literacy
Increasing digital literacy in the remote and rural areas of Samoa is the goal behind a collaboration between E3 Rural Samoa Trust, Code Avengers and Digital Discipline.
The programme was launched in Savai'i last week and will see the three different groups partner to enhance engagement and empower Samoans in rural and remote communities with connectivity and resources with the aim to improve social and economic development.
Last week, they were able to provide devices, connectivity and learning resources to Palauli Primary Schools in a bid to prepare students for digital careers and education.
“A basic right rather than a privilege, digital literacy is now recognised as an essential life skill," said Togisala Tony Leota of E3 Rural Samoa Trust.
"In a world where societies are evolving and technology is advancing, the development of digital literacy is equally important as developing literacy, writing, and mathematics skills in the classroom.
"It was however challenging to effectively integrate digital literacy into curricula in many education institutions here in Samoa due to a lack of infrastructure, technological equipment, teacher training, or learning benchmarks."
This is not the first time E3 Trust, a local non-government organisation has partnered up with Code Avengers. The two organisations teamed up in 2019 for a project to enable the rural population of Samoa to have connectivity and digital literacy.
However, the 2019 measles outbreak and the emerging of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020 delayed the implementation of the project.
According to Togisala, the "aim of this partnership is to determine the most effective way to impact the lives of young people in rural Samoa so that they are better prepared for the future and the workforce."
“The goal of digital inclusion extends beyond closing gaps. It is an opportunity to build a fair and equitable society as well as a vibrant economy.
"By building the right skills, our students will be able to compete in the digital economy, which is growing rapidly," says Ray Allen, Chief Operating Officer of Code Avengers.
"As we move into a digital age, it is essential to be skilled in ICT. We are grateful to have partnered with E3, the Samoa Trust, and Digital Discipline. It's an extremely valuable and powerful partnership.”
As a pilot project the group started working with the Siufaga Adventist Primary School where they held their first ever teacher training. As part of the initiative, 150 students benefited from the program where Code Avengers provided free digital technologies and programming educational resources and platform training to participating schools.
E3 facilitators utilised the Code Avengers eLearning platform to train the teachers to teach computer science in the classrooms.
The group strives to provide equal opportunities to all children who participate in the programme, open doors to innovation and promote digital literacy regardless of their career choice.
“Our mission at Code Avengers is to bridge the digital divide and provide confidence in the digital world. We intend to provide digital tools and resources to empower our teachers and our students with much needed digital skills in a safe environment," said Ray Allen.
To ensure that learning takes place in a safe and protected environment, Tony Laulu, the founder at Digital Discipline, later got involved in the project.
He said he was thankful to E3 Samoa Trust, Code Avengers for the opportunity to help and contribute to the development of the people in Samoa.
"It has been a real privilege to be able to partner with these great organizations and great people in order to provide some resources for these schools," Mr. Laulu said.
"Even though I didn’t grow up in Samoa and even though most of my life has been spent in New Zealand, my heart always wants to see how I can contribute and help back home because if anyone ever asks me where my home is and where my roots are, it's not New Zealand, it’s Samoa."
Togisala expressed his sincere gratitude towards the Government of the day for allowing them to carry out their plans in schools in Savai'i.
"We’re fortunate that through this programme we were able to reach the rural and remote communities in Savaii," he said.
"Now that the project has its focus on the big island, it aims to make a greater impact on our most remote and vulnerable communities by utilizing the relationships that they have with the Village Chief councils, Women’s committee, Schools and the PTA, who play an integral role in all major development projects on the island.
"The collaboration's mission is to raise digital literacy and address future skills gaps and under-representation of Samoan’s especially their isolated rural communities and females in STEM (Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields.
“Our mission is to encourage other Samoan organizations and individuals to support our program and give back to their communities in Samoa.
"As Samoans and organizations, we can still make a difference in children's development that will open up new opportunities and provide innovation.
"The work of Tony Laulu and Digital Discipline with Palauli Primary is a great example of giving back and helping rural and remote communities directly without being here.”
The group is looking to reach as many communities and schools as possible and invite any organisations that would like to contribute to the mission.
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