The Transformational Tech series highlights Cisco’s grant recipients that use technology to help transform the lives of individuals and communities.
An estimated 37% of the world’s population – or 2.9 billion people – have still never used the internet and are missing out on the wealth of learning opportunities available online.
In addition, when reflecting on the past three years, the effects from pandemic school closures remain and have had a lasting impact on teacher wellbeing, and student learning proficiency levels globally. This situation was particularly true in communities without reliable access to the internet or technologies to aid teachers and families with remote instruction. More is needed to help this population of learners accelerate learning to meet minimum learning proficiency levels country by country. And more needs to be done to inclusively connect these communities and their students to trained teachers and quality classroom resources.
World Possible is a Cisco nonprofit partner who bridges these gaps and connects offline learners to the world’s knowledge with an educational server called RACHEL (Remote Area Community Hotspot for Education and Learning). RACHEL is an innovative learning tool for teachers to engage their students and bridge the digital divide and help scale teacher productivity while working with diverse classrooms.
In appreciation of educators everywhere, we want to shine a light on World Possible technology being used by teachers and students in Oceania, Asia and Latin America. In these examples, RACHEL is used to build teacher capacity, increase student engagement, and improve overall classroom performance while helping students living in remote and disconnected communities build digital skills.
Oceania – Kiribati:
Kiribati is an island country composed of over 30 atolls with over 17,500 students attending 110 schools. These students and their teachers are spread over 3.5 million square kilometers in the central Pacific Ocean. With such a dispersed and distributed population, education officials address the challenge of providing access to trained teachers with current curriculum in programs like the Kiribati Education Improvement Program.
Kiribati Education officials use RACHEL server devices to store digital media within key training schools. These servers have the flexibility to be solar powered with battery backup support to reach even the most remote areas of this island country. With the high cost of internet, which is primarily only available through mobile phone data plans, access to these resources at scale isn’t sustainable for these communities. But a RACHEL content device changes this dynamic, making professional training and receiving updated content easier.
Asia – Cambodia:
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is the United Nations specialized agency for information and communication technologies and is committed to connecting all the world’s people. Through their work, ITU Data Hub reports indicate that 60% of individuals in Cambodia are using the internet compared with the world average of 66%. This gap in access to the internet within Cambodia increases in rural and remote populations. World Possible serves as a bridge for this digital divide for teachers and students in rural Cambodia.
At Doris Dillon School, the World Possible RACHEL server is used directly by students in classrooms to learn English, improve numeracy skills and build digital skills using computers. The RACHEL device also acts as a community digital library, used by families for gardening, health education and computer classes.
Latin America – Guatemala
Within Latin America, access to the internet and technology for use in schools can be challenging. In Guatemala, the same ITU Data Hub reports indicate that 51% of individuals in the country are using the internet compared with the world average of 66%. With a beautiful and rugged landscape, Guatemala has high mountain ranges dotted with volcanos, jungle regions and large urban cities such as Guatemala City or Quetzaltenango in the northern highlands. Within this diverse geography is a school using RACHEL located in Sacsiguán Monte Mercedes, a small village from Sololá, in the western highlands of Guatemala. In this remote and rural area, Elvia Patricia Julajuj Cuxulic, who is an accountant by profession, teaches in the Monte Mercedes Secondary School leads seven classes of students every week in the afternoons serving 87 students from grades 7 to 9.
Earlier this year her school received a RACHEL server that is now being used by students who previously had little access to the internet. As a teacher, Elvia has been actively using the device with her students and reports to the Ministry of Education show over 130,000 logged events, and 66,900 pages visited. As one of four teachers in Monte Mercedes Secondary School, she hopes that her students and her community will all have the chance of having a better life through education.
More to come
Cisco inclusively invests using a portfolio approach in nonprofits to further STEM Education student outcomes, inspire youth to regenerate our climate and develop trained teacher capacity globally. Through investment partners like World Possible we aim to strengthen human capital, inclusively connect people to resources and services with quality platforms informed by education proven practice.
This fall, World Possible will release an upgraded RACHEL server with increased capacity for concurrent device connections, improved device storage, and will leverage a new processor. Through a new server, coupled with the cloud update service called DataPost, education officials can use Android devices to update RACHEL servers in remote locations around the world. To learn more about RACHEL visit WorldPossible.org.