Computers to rural schools in Cameroon, Tanzania

Economic, social and political life in the 21st century will be increasingly digital, and those without information and communication technologies will be increasingly excluded.

The gap between “developed” and “developing” countries have, in modern history, mostly been understood as an economic one.

Another gap has emerged in recent years, a gap of technological character.

The “gap” refers to both the access to- as well as the competence in technology. The entire world has – and is experiencing a technological shift leading to proficiency in computers, and technology is a prerequisite not only for work but social life as well.

Computers for Schools is an effort by Engineers Without Border (EWB) Sweden to “bridge” that gap.

The project aims to install computer labs at schools in rural as well as urban environments in developing countries. The computer labs will give both the teachers and the students at the schools’ access to a traditional desktop working environment.

In central Africa, the ratio of people with access to a personal computers (PC) ranges from 0-15%. Therefore, a single computer lab at a school can make a significant change. 

The technical solution has to balance cost, power consumption, and reliability. The project decided to use Raspberry Pi’s (RPi’s) for client computers.

The RPi’s are cheap, very energy efficient, and have no moving parts. In addition to the RPI’s, we use a basic server, computer screens, mice, keyboards, printers, and more.

Computers for Schools includes basic computer knowledge training for the teachers of the school, an introductory course to the hardware, the operating system and different educational and administrative software.

The main goal of the training is to make the teachers feel safe in their computer literacy. The aim is that the teaches both can use the computers as educational tools and teach the children computer basics.

Our first project was carried through in Cameroon in 2017. A computer lab was installed at the ACOHOF Family Farm Schools in Tatum, and a total of 6 teachers were trained in the use of the computers. 

In January 2020 another team leave for the Mavuno Secondary School in Karagwe, Tanzania. The mission is to install a computer lab of 15 clients and train 16 teachers.

EWB Sweden got a large donation from Sandvik in 2019. The donation was collected through the auctioning of a 3D-printed “smash-proof” electric guitar, signed by Yngwie Malmsteen.

The objective of the project was to install a computer lab at the ACOHOF Family Farm School in Cameroon.

The school is run by the NGO, ACOHOF who primarily works with underprivileged children from the nearby rural areas.

The project group went to Cameroon in August 2017 and successfully installed the computer lab and trained the teachers in the use of these computers. The computers used were Raspberry Pi’s, chosen for their long-term stability both hardware- and software-wise.

Another benefit with the RPI’s is that they have low energy-consumption, letting us use the solar panels installed previously by Engineers Without Borders Sweden to power the lab.

With the new computer lab, there are new possibilities for both the students and teachers.

The teachers can use the computers for administrative purposes, scheduling, writing grades and instructions for parents.

The students have the possibility to learn how to use computers and be able to easier obtain information for learning. And even though the school does not have an Internet connection, for now, the students have access to all of the knowledge that exists on the English Wikipedia through saving it locally.

This contribution has the potential to benefit several generations of the students at ACOHOF Family Farm School through more modern education and the world’s largest collection of information only a search away.



Engineers without Borders