CyberFair Project ID: 5635

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International Schools CyberFair Project Narrative
Title: Elementary schools in rural Madagascar
Category: 2. Community Groups and Special Populations

School: American School of Antananarivo
    Antananarivo, TNR, Madagascar

2 students, ages 14 and 16 worked together to complete this CyberFair project on February 24, 2009. They have participated in CyberFair in the following year(s): none

Classes and Teachers: 9th and 11th grade

E-Mail contact:

Our School's Web Site: http://

Project Overview

1. Description of Our Community

Community is a word that has numerous meanings to us, and we therefore have different kinds of communities that we consider our own. First, we are part of the American School of Antananarivo community. We consider our small school (there are 250 students and only 40 students in high school) a community as everyone knows everyone and teachers and students are always ready to help each other if they need anything In this school, there are over 38 different nationalities and more than 20 different languages are spoken. It is a diverse yet united community and we love interacting constantly with our peers, as they all have different values, religions, backgrounds, and points of view. This diversity has always offered us the chance to look at problems from different points of view and from different aspects. Our second community is Antananarivo and the villages nearby. Antananarivo is the capital city of Madagascar, where we have lived since our birth. Although extremely varied and rich in its culture, the city and its surroundings offer the sad perspective of poverty. This poverty, which spans across most of the society, also reaches children who are often not in a position to get a decent education. It is precisely this aspect of our community that has led to the current project, which consists in helping our community children to get a better education.

2. Summary of Our Project

Keelonga is an initiative that we started two years ago. The goal of Keelonga is to help the public elementary schools in rural areas in Madagascar to improve the environment of their students. This is achieved by providing better infrastructures and more teachers in order to bring down the number of students per teacher which is sometimes higher than 100! We have started to act in a small village called Anosiala near Antananarivo, where we are currently helping five schools. We have spent a lot of time in these schools with the schools’ administration, the mayor of the village and the local office of the ministry of education to decide on the most urgent actions needed .We agreed that the most important and urgent needs of these schools were to have an appropriate infrastructure and number of teachers. Keelonga is therefore contributing to these public schools by raising money and paying for the salary of eight qualified teachers and the repair and maintenance of the classrooms. We have commitments from many private individuals and also companies to keep contributing in the coming months and years. In the future, we would like to broaden the scope of Keelonga and help other schools around Madagascar by providing a similar support to them. This will however require a more complex organization, and we therefore hope to get more members on board with more experienced people. One of the scopes of the Cyberfair Web Project is that it will give us more exposure and increase our credibility.

3. Our Computer and Internet Access

A. Percentage of students using the Internet at home:more than 50%

B. Number of workstations with Internet access in the classroom:more than 6

C. Connection speed used in the classroom:dedicated connection

D. Number of years our classroom has been connected to the Internet:4-6

E. Additional comments concerning your computer and/or Internet access (Optional):

The internet access is essential to this project as it allows us to quickly reach people and friends who participate directly or indirectly to the project, such as the workers involved in the maintenance of the schools, the suppliers, the coordinator of the teachers (Mrs. Esther), and so on.

4. Problems We Had To Overcome

We had problems to overcome since before even starting our project! The first step was to define precisely what would be the scope of our project as we had initially started with a broad idea of helping primary schools. Because of the sheer size of this scope, we had to narrow it to a precise mission. This has been made possible thanks to the cooperation of civil servants at the Ministry of Public Education and specifically Mrs. Esther : she helped us prioritize the various issues and we decided to concentrate on two fields only: Repair and maintain the existing infrastructures and bring the ratio students/teachers down to 50 at most.

Once the goals were defined, we had to hire and manage the teachers and the maintenance team. This was a huge and very complex task as it involves understanding of many legal aspects. We could not have been through this step without the help of school parents who also own businesses and who made this possible. Last, all this required financing: Strange enough, this has been the easiest part of the project as school parents, other individuals and corporations, our school staff and faculty, all were willing to help us with our project, and we are grateful to them for supporting us all along. The next problem to solve was to acquire the technical knowledge to the implementation of a website. We have been very lucky as our local internet provider accepted to participate in the project by training us. This is how we learnt about free software and basic setup procedure of a website under SPIP. We currently have one last problem. Because we live in Madagascar, it is not possible to have online payment as a way to contribute to our project on our website. We are working on overcoming this handicap but it not easy as we cannot find a legal and sure way to get online contributions from abroad.

(For more details, see,30?lang=en)

5. Our Project Sound Bite

Our participation in International Schools CyberFair is an opportunity for us to make our project Keelonga known abroad. We hope that it will increase international interest in helping to promote education in villages in Madagascar.

6. How did your activities and research for this CyberFair Project support standards, required coursework and curriculum standards?

This project has had a huge impact on our knowledge of our environment and our role in society. We have found out that every single citizen can contribute immensely to its community even with small resources. It has also taught us an extremely wide range of skills in very diverse fields. Through this project we have been able to learn true management skills as we had to do everything a company manager would have to do, from finding financial resources to hiring and managing a team of workers, making budgets in excel, checking the availability of resources before launching a new project, solving logistical problems, negotiate with suppliers, building and maintaining a website, and so on. Above all, we learnt that helping other people gives a satisfaction that cannot be found in any other way. Thus, this project fits perfectly well and goes beyond the school requirement for a community service. It has also added and helped us go beyond the curriculum requirements in computer science, local history, environment and electives such as Yearbook.

Project Elements

1) What information tools & technologies did you used to complete your CyberFair project?

We used two laptops to make our research and build the website, a telephone set to communicate with Mrs. Esther, the mayor of Anosiala, the suppliers, the education office and our sponsors, and a Canon EOS 400D to take pictures of the schools and the students. We also used various computer software: Microsoft World, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Office Outlook, Mozilla Firefox, Photoshop, Illustrator, Irfanview and Spip. These programs helped us to organize our work, make research on the Internet, build the website and the logo, and communicate with different people. The most challenging part has been to build the website with the use of a free software called Spip. This has allowed us also to discover the concept of free software and the unique GNU license.

2) In what ways did you act as "ambassadors" and spokespersons for your CyberFair project both on-line and in person.

Communication was a very important aspect of our project. Every single aspect of the project needed interaction with a third party. It all started with the encounter with Mrs. Esther, who works at the Ministry of Public Education. Mrs. Esther has been seduced by our project and introduced us to the local head of education ministry in Anosiala, the village in which we operate. Then we also had to meet with the mayor of Anosiala. We had to convince both these officials about the seriousness of our project as our young age made it difficult for us to be taken seriously. After many visits we eventually got their approval to start our work. Later, when the project had started and showing signs of happening, the mayor of Anosiala sent us a letter to thank us for our help and willingness to improve education in his village. He eagerly congratulated us about our efforts and impressive achievements We had also to raise money to start and maintain the project. For this we called many parents of our school and also family members, acquaintances of our families and even private companies in town. We made a lot of phone calls to get appointments and meet with people who would help us to finance our project. During the meetings, we had to explain Keelonga’s goals and show pictures of the schools and the students. The outcome has always been beyond our expectations and all of the people we met were more than willing to help us (see our sponsors at,28?lang=en). They were impressed by the work and effort we had put into this project. Many of them, not only contributed financially to the project, but they helped us find ideas to raise more funds! Last, we talked to our school and got a generous contribution from the student council of 10% of the profits made on all school events.

3) What has been the impact of your project on your community?

Keelonga has improved education in the five schools in Anosiala that it is helping. The eight teachers hired by Keelonga will increase the attention to each student in the classrooms and will also help the students to learn more. Thanks to the repair of the infrastructures of the schools, the students in Anosiala will benefit from an adequate environment to learn. Now, Keelonga wants to help other schools around Antananarivo but also throughout Madagascar to improve the education of Malagasy kids and increase their chances of success in life. People in our school as well as people around the world have learnt new facts thanks to Keelonga and its website. People in our school and acquaintances of ours learnt that all kids in Madagascar do not have the same access to a fair education as do children who can afford an American or French education in Madagascar. Thanks to the website, they also learnt that helping schools is easy and does not need a huge amount of money, but requires the desire and willingness to help. Also, they now know that rural Malagasy kids need all the help they can get from anyone, anywhere. Thanks to Keelonga’s website, we have not only received help from Madagascar, but also from Italy, France and the USA, and we hope to receive help from other countries as well. Thanks to Keelonga, we have developed working relationships with a tremendous number of people, such as the teachers we hired, the construction team, Mrs. Esther, the mayor, civil servants, the suppliers of hardware and more. Additionally, we receive funds from various sources, including our school faculty and students, friends here and abroad, all of whom give us ideas on how to raise more funds or help. Our website has been visited by hundreds of people: students, teachers, sponsors, friends and family around Madagascar and abroad. The website statistics show that the site is visited everyday by new and often unknown people to us from all over the world.

4) How did your project involve other members of your community as helpers and volunteers?

This whole project could not have started without the help of Mrs. Esther, the lady who works at the Ministry of Public Education and who introduced us to the reality of public education in our country. Other main contributors are the mayor of Anosiala, the maintenance team, our sponsors, and our many friends at school and abroad who have contributed in order to make all this happen. Mrs. Esther showed us the real problems of the public schools in Anosiala, she found qualified teachers to teach in these schools, and introduced us to the mayor of Anosiala. The latter accepted our contribution to the schools in Anosiala by hiring teachers and repairing and rebuilding the schools. The repair team was willing to work far from their houses and even sleep at the schools in order to repair the infrastructures in as short time as possible. Our many wonderful sponsors financed the project and gave us tips on how to make our help more significant. Finally, our friends and acquaintances made our website known to their friends and families, helped us raise money and awareness, and are showing continuous cooperation for Keelonga.

5) Discoveries, Lessons and Surprises (Optional)

As founders of Keelonga, we learnt in a few months more than we had ever learnt about education in Madagascar, the life of the rural Malagasy kids, the building of a website, the setting up of an operational organization, manage and check the work of different people. We saw the real problems of schools and education in Madagascar, and we never thought schools could be in such a poor condition. It could not have been worse! Not enough teachers, no roof, no water, no games, no chalk… To register Keelonga with the government has been complicated but we now know everything on the different types of organization present in Madagascar! Managing a construction team is also something we learnt thanks to Keelonga. We have to plan, manage, assign to jobs, and organize the logistics (which is tough: there aren’t even proper roads going to these schools but muddy traces), negotiate and buy the material, keep proper books because of legal requirements, establish pay sheets, etc… Also, we provide teachers to many schools. The teachers send us weekly activity reports and we try to see each of them at least once every fortnight to keep them motivated and to get their feedback on any improvement we can make. We also correspond with the regional education office. Lastly, we take care of all the fundraising; we visit sponsors and prepare our budget according to the amount of money raised. We have setup the website on a free software base, but even this has taken hours of work to get something more or less acceptable. We now feel like we could run any type of business on our own!


View our CyberFair Project (Project ID: 5635)

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