Students with computers

An existing lab in a school set up by Trust in Education

As my Eagle Project, I’m using the Raspberry Pi platform to build computers for students at a girls’ school in Afghanistan. We’re raising the money online at Indiegogo, and will be building a special, pre-loaded Linux distribution with educational software. Trust in Education, a non-profit aid group, will be setting up a computer lab with the Pi-based computers.

When I first started learning about the Raspberry Pi, it was almost inconceivable that in a year I would be trying to purchase the boards wholesale. It was the midst of the “Pi drought,” a months-long period where it was impossible to find the boards for sale after the first manufacturing run of 10,000 units ran out. It was when I saw a talk by Dr. Eben Upton, founder of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, at the Bay Area Maker Faire, that I first considered doing an Eagle Project with the platform.

I decided to partner with Trust in Education, a charity organization that works to, among other things, build and support schools in Afghan villages. They have a great track record for supporting gender equality and providing high-quality educational resources to the schools they set up, and are located nearby where I live, so it was a natural fit.

Each computer will include a Raspberry Pi Model B, the SD card that holds the OS, USB storage for files, mouse and keyboard, and a monitor. We are planning to pack them ready to set up– plug-and-play. I’m working with some volunteers to load up a custom Linux distribution  with the educational software we will need, which we hope to release to the community for use after the project is finished.

The computers will be used in the lab to teach basic computer skills, including typing and proficiency in office suite programs. Having even a basic understanding of technology could create opportunities for students that would otherwise be impossible. In addition, we are looking into providing an educational database such as RACHEL or Khan Academy on a Stick to be accessed by local Pis on intranet — the schools currently don’t have internet access.

If you’re interested in donating to the project, you can find our Indiegogo page here. Any amount helps allow us to bring computer education to as many students as we can. The Raspberry Pi Foundation has generously agreed to match any donations up to $10,000 — so you can effectively double your donation!

Will Goldie can be contacted through the form below: