Projekt:Uganda 2014/en

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A pic of Caroline Gunnarsson & Paulina Backstrom, two Wikipediaambassadors who taught Wikipedia in English and Luganda in Uganda through a project directed by Wikimedia Sweden & WWF.

The pilot lasted from January 16th to February 16th 2014. The purpose was to expand Luganda Wikipedia with articles on sustainable development and in that way open up a world where knowledge is freely accessible to everybody in Uganda. Partial goals were to strengthen youths and adults, strengthen democracy, strengthen liberty of speech, increase understanding of computers and increase the number of women who edits Wikipedia. It is also a project towards school and village sustainable development using the Luganda Wikipedia as a source of knowledge. The project was ran by Wikimedia Sverige together with WWF Sverige, who was the financial sponsor, together with project manager in Uganda Paul Kiguba. (Link to the Luganda Wikipedia)

The Wikipedia teachers who worked in Uganda were Paulina Bäckström and Caroline Gunnarsson, both 19 years old.


Wikipedia is a web based and multi lingual encyclopedia with open and free content. As the users themselves write and edit articles, the knowledge is collected from collaborating people all over the world. In recent times Wikipedia has not only been used as a source for knowledge, but also as a new way to teach in an educational setting. That is how the idea to this project came to be. During the last year in the gymnasium (secondary education, 2012-13) at Stagneliusskolan in Kalmar, Caroline Gunnarsson and Paulina Bäckström got the opportunity to travel and collect experiences from Uganda as they participated in the class Global profil, and also learnt writing articles on Wikipedia as part of an exam, based on experiences from the trip. Their former teacher Dan Frendin had through a cooperation with Wikimedia Sweden also introduced the idea to develop and widen the subject sustainable development in the Swedish Wikipedia. This created the project “Wikipedia: Projekt Hållbar utveckling” (Wikipedia: Project sustainable development) on Wikipedia with the purpose to create, translate and highlight articles regarding sustainable development.

During the spring of 2013, teachers from Uganda got the opportunity (through the exchange in Global profile) to participate in a workshop arranged by Wikimedia Sverige, where they learnt to edit Wikipedia. From the start the idea was that these teachers would bring this knowledge back home and spread the work with Wikipedia in Uganda. In Uganda there is a possibility to work with the Luganda language and on the Luganda Wikipedia, or in English, but there are many practical hindrances for this. Many Ugandans do not have access to their own computer where they can edit and internet access is hugely expensive in many African countries. The solution on the latter is called "Wikipedia Zero", a project where telecom providers let citizens surf for free in selected languages of Wikipedia in developing countries. The solution on the first part might be to equip every village with a computercenter. After the workshop, Paul Kiguba, one of the teachers and now also project manager from Uganda, hatched the idea that the Luganda Wikipedia could be used as an avenue for village sustainable development. Paul suggested that in the absence/inadequacy of extension workers to provide the villagers with the relevant knowledge in their fields, the Luganda Wikipedia can be a wonderful substitute. Computers, mobile phones, Ipads etc connected to Wikipedia through Internet could do the magic. An initial project was drafted, shared with Dan, who promoted it with his professional input in both sustainable development and mobile learning to what is now called the Mbazzi Wikipedia Project. In the Ugandan village Mbazzi, the local organization “Mbazzi Farmer Association” together with Paul Kiguba have recieved grants from the Wikimedia Foundation and Wikimedia Sweden to open one of these computercenters with the aim that knowledge should be shared between farmers on the Luganda Wikipedia.

Together the leading parties (WMSE, Dan Frendin, Caroline and Paulina) of the project wrote an application in the fall of 2013 to Svenska Institutets initiative Creative Force for a financial contribution, but it was denied. Thanks to Dan Frendins passion for environmental and sustainability issues he had earlier established contact with the Swedish World Wildlife Foundation, WWF. Early on, he saw the potential for WWF to participate in the project as a leader. WWF has for a long time worked in and developed the project Education for Sustainable Development, ESD, in the countries around Lake Victoria, who among other things educates students in sustainability issues. In a meeting with WWF Sverige October 31st 2013, Dan and Caroline along with Jan Ainali from Wikimedia Sverige (Paulina was connected via Skype), the opportunity to visit the headoffice in Stockholm and meet Germund Sellgren, the WWF coordinator for international educational projects. The meeting ended well, but Germund could not guarantee financial support from WWF, unless there were money left over from other Sida projects in the end of the year. Undoubtly we have been lucky, since the project was granted funding a few weeks later. With that financial support by one of the largest nature preservation organizations in the world the economy was secure and the project was going to be carried out.

The Luganda Wikipedia is one of the smallest Wikipedia language versions. When the project started it only had 166 articles. In contrast, the language Luganda, in Luganda Oluganda, is spoken by over 16 million people in Uganda, mostly by the Ganda people in south Uganda. Ganda is an ethnic group derived from the Bantu group and belong to the kingdom of Uganda (one of Ugandas five kingdoms), where the capital Kampala is located.

The project

This pilot project were carried out 16 January 2014 to 16 February 2014 at the following schools in Kampala och Entebbe, including both teachers and students.

Four secondary schools:

  • Kisubi Mapeera secondary school
  • Lubiri High School
  • Entebbe secondary school
  • Kitende secondary school

Three universities:

  • Muteesa 1 Royal University
  • Makerere University
  • Nkumba University

The project also involved education of farmers in "Mbazzi Farmers Association", in the village Mbazzi, leaders of youth groups and WWF projects in Masaka, WWF staff at their office in Kampala, journalists at the Luganda newspaper Bukedde and the editor in chief at CBS Buganda Radiostation. In total 76 persons were officialy educated, how many more that was educated informally we do not know. Paulina and Caroline started for example a Wikiclub at the Kisubi Mapeera secondary school for the students in eveneing time and these participants are not included in the total.


The education were in two steps, both with theory and practice. See Training Sessions at the page in the archive for the schedule the seminars had. The main thought were that the teachers should go to each school (Mbazzi, Masaka and so on) twice with 1-2 weeks in between, to give the participants time to explore Wikipedia on their own, choose subjects for their articles and begin editing. This was not being done according to our original plan due to lack of time. When we are aware of this fact now, we should have included all information in the first session.

How did it go?

Paulina: I think the project reacher further than expected and I know that all involved parties, both in Sweden and Uganda, are satisfied with the result. We have reached the short and longterm goals that we wanted to achieve in our application to Creative Force/SI, as in getting contacs, see if the project is possible to expand to other parts of Uganda/East Africa, plan and investigate what is needed for future projects, increase the number of women that edits Wikipedia and getting financial sponsorship for the center in Mbazzi from the WWF over three years amongst other things. Beyond this we have achieved other goals that were not clear from the beginning, e.g. increasing the number of articles on the Luganda Wikipedia and educated journalists who works on a Lugandan newspaper. As Caroline points out, we have reached everybody, and everyone that we have educated has seen the importance of Wikipedia and this project. It feels as if most people have been able to relate to us in some sense. The best experience was for me to se what passion the Ugandans showed for their language and Wikipedia (after they learnt about Wikipedia). It was like editing Wikipedia always had been something natural to them. The bonds were strengthened between the wikipedians, which clearly showed at the Wiki meetup. All participants have really embraced the information we provided and we have not met even one person with a negative view on the project. It is also fantastic to see the Luganda Wikipedia live on even afer we went home. We hope this spark will be there for a long time and we have an extended responsibility as ambassadors and teachers to see that the future visions gathered by the participants of the wiki meetup are carried through.

Caroline: I believe we have succeeded in reaching everybody and that the project is a great success. I am pleased to see the creation of more articles on the Luganda Wikipedia. I am also happy to see that even after we are back home articles are being written and published. I think we succeeded in expanding the project and spreading it to more than just students and teachers at schools. We have found, as Paulina wrote, our envangelists and it will be interesting to see if we have succeeded in conveying our thoughts and ideas in a way that they will live on. I look upon the project as very successful since our feeling is that we reached out to just about everybody we met. It does not matter if they were farmers, journalists or teachers. Everybody has been able to see Wikipedia in their situation and being able to adapt. That is what is so beautiful with Wikipedia, it is such a wide enclopedia that everybody can use it as a tool.

Paul: A great start! The drums of Wikipedia have sounded! The dancing has started. A wonderful dance so far! The bigger task lies ahead. To sustain the project, make it grow meaningfully among the users and spread it widely. Many people whom we have reached are very positive. We have been warmly received, even in the highest Offices like Buganda Kingdom, Makerere University, Bukedde Newspaper (The New Vision Group) etc. Our duty is now to ensure that the Luganda Wikipedia movement is promoted to become a transforming agent in sustainable development as well as a tool of sharing knowledge.


  • The number of articles on luganda Wikipedia has increased from 166 to 265 articles (2014-08-25).
  • Africa's first Wikipedia Centre has opened in the village of Mbazzi. The center is run by electricity from solar panels on the roof and can seat five computers. The vision is that the center will become a natural meeting place in the village for all ages, in which knowledge is written and disseminated by the villagers.
  • More Ugandans can use computers, type on computers, write articles on Wikipedia, use internet and have a better understanding of how to combine these skills.
  • The project has highlighted the importance of free knowledge, the language luganda, objectivity, communication, democracy, equality and working IT infrastructure.
  • The number of women who write on Wikipedia in Uganda is increasing.
  • The project has trained participants in sustainable development, and made ​​them understand the importance of a sustainable future.
  • A Wikipedia club for students was started at Kisubi Mapeera secondary school. Students will write articles, talk about Wikipedia among other students and coach other students in Wikipedia.
  • A community of participating teachers, students, journalists , academics and farmers has formed around Luganda Wikipedia. The community has created a Facebook page, Luganda Wikipedia , where project participants in Uganda can easily communicate with each other. The people in Sweden involved in the project can also communicate with the Ugandans, answer questions and see how active the community is.
  • The Community has had its first Wikifika [1] (Wiki meetup). The Wikifika was held in Kampala and the invited participants consisted of journalists from Bukedde, university professors, teachers, a student and the Wikipedia teachers. During the Wikifika the participants agreed that the work to develop Luganda Wikipedia must continue, and also the following:
    • The Wikifika group will meet on the last Friday of each month
    • All participants in the Wikifika group will translate and write articles in Luganda
    • University teachers should encourage their students to write in Luganda Wikipedia
    • Luganda Wikipedia needs to be marketed and popularized
    • Luganda Wikipedia is in need of an editorial group that can edit existing and new articles
    • Students studying Luganda will develop a proper terminology for Wikipedia pages
    • The newspaper Bukedde will promote the use of Luganda Wikipedia among its readers
    • Increase the number of article topics on Luganda Wikipedia
    • Secondary schools should start their own "Wiki Clubs"
    • Wikipedia should be highlighted on the "National Conference of Luganda teachers" at Makerere University in May
    • Speakers of luganda outside Uganda will be mobilized to bring their knowledge to Luganda Wikipedia
    • The work of Luganda terminology development can best be done by Luganda lecturers and teachers. This needs a separate project with sponsorship. A computer automatic translating programme could also be designed for Luganda.

Conclusions and experiences

  • The project went well, with a growing number of articles on Luganda Wikipedia. Africas first Wikipedia center was inaugurated February 6th 2014. Through the project more Ugandans are educated in IT, sustainable development, democracy, communication and, of course, Wikipedia. We as Wikipedia ambassadors believe that this is a well functioning way to transfer knowledge to all. It does not matter who you are, where you come from or what you do, everybody has the right to an education and supplementary training.
  • For most people in Uganda, the access to computers and Internet is low, but this should not be of hindrance.By building more Wikipedia center we secure access to updated knowledge, education about IT, Internet and communication to the most vulnerable. Also, new venues of meeting are created for young and old people and can be a way to encourage people to stop drug and alcohol abuse and other social problems.
  • The actual knoledge in IT amongst Ugandans are surprisingly low, even in younger generations. We were especially surprised about university students' low competence in handling a computer and Internet, comparing to e.g. Sweden. Here a lot of work and studies are carried out on a computer at the universities and finding a student not owning a computer is hard. The schools of Uganda are unfortunately not good in using computers in education, even if they have the actual equipment. If this question is not prioritized on a political level, Uganda faces a risk in being the underdog with lack of competence, technology, lost generations and will stay behind the rapid development of this area (e.g. IT) which occurs in the rest of the world. What does it matter if Internet supply gets better in Uganda while the majority of people cannot take part in this progress?
  • We have learnt to deal with problems like Ugandans who not are critical of sources and not autonomous in their thinking. Schools in Uganda do not emphasize these skills at all. We have also taught our target groups how to use computers as tools in education. By this knowledge we planted a seed for mobile learning. To be part of the change in how to educate in other ways than through a black board with chalks. To see how someone grasps how Wikipedia can change the way to receive and spread knowledge was an amazing experience for us.
  • The world is changing fast, especially within IT and learning, meaning we need to change obsolete methods and be creative. In most high income countries we have access to smartphones and Internet all the time (for better and for worse), and by those we throughout got access to knowledge. But the development of mobile units and the building of connectivity expands faster than you might think in low income countries and within a few years the situation of today, with relatively few smartphones and expensive internet, will be different. Knowledge is no longer exclusively in books, and teaching through mobiles units called mobile learning. This way of teaching is relatively new in Sweden, but not in the rest of the world. UNESCO page on mobile learning. Our project is in front edge with the education paradigmes of the future and futuristic aid.
  • The stereotypical image of Africa as a starving and "left behind" continent, a slave to the West's assistance, is also dented with this type of project. Internet and IT are global phenomenas, not dedicated only to the west. Through the project youth and adults have been strengthened and they have now the ability to educate others, whom in turn will be strengthened by further knowledge. We have, as Caroline mentioned above, planted a seed but not a flower. I.e. the hard work must come from people in Uganda themselves.
  • Keeping a schedule was hard in Uganda and we were sometimes a few hours late. We used the term "African time" - you always need to include delays and time-optimists. To be adjustable and not keeping the curriculum to 100 % are important factors you need to be aware of. After all, our target groups are human beings e.g anything can happen.

Considerations for future projects

  • More planning with all involved parties is required.
  • More people involved afield is required. This time only the project manager was available, which was not enough becuse he had a parallell job as a teacher and some other commitments. Make sure the alternates have a drivers license.
  • Before the start of the training, all participants should have taken a course for data knowledge so they know basic computer knowledge.
  • Emphasize the importance of neutrality and critical of sources even more. (This must also come from a political level, through e.g. school reforms, to change the problems.)
  • Make room for more workshops, preferably three. One or two sessions are not enough to learn Wikipedia extensively (also depending on existing computer literacy, but generally it would be needed).
  • Emphasize the time schedule and keep it strictly. Otherwise participants and teachers lose focus.
  • Find the evangelists as early as possible because it gives an opportunity to educate these ones even more so they become very skilled Wikipedians. It is a guarantee for us as Wikipedia teachers to know that there are qualified people whom further can teach others well.

Financial overview

Costs in SEK.

What? Budget Actual Comment
Journey 22,000 20,468
Residence 12,000 11,475
Insurance 2,100 0 Home insurance was deemed enough.
Transports 12,000 8,697
Computers/tablets 20,000 21,846 Includes computers and other equipment to the Mbazzi Wikipedia center.
Modem and Internet 1,000 12,571 Includes internet for one year at the Mbazzi Wikipedia center.
Solar chargers 8,000 8,027
Cell phone subscription 500 0
Visa 700 0
Malariaprofylax 2,400 1,160
Administrative costs 4,000 250
Other spendings 10,000 8,513
Total 94,700 94,483