Scandal of underused high quality free resources for third world education

Brilliant, Rich and Underused – Scandal of Resources for Third World Education

I had the opportunity finally to sample 2 tremendous projects this morning:

1.  Wikipedia for Schools – a free public domain encyclopedia which is up-to-date, brilliantly presented, has great visuals

2. Project Gutenberg – a free public domain collection of out-of-copyright literature in English, French, Finnish and some other languages.  Lacking any nice visual, but has great content (Shakespeare, Conrad, Dickens, Wilkie Collins, R.L.Stevenson, Somerset Maugham, Victor Hugo, but lacking Graham Greene, Deighton, le Carre etc)

Both are offline downloads which should be heavily used in every single school throughout the Third World, which as far as I know have about zero presence there.

What are the National Ministries of Education doing?
What are the Donors and the NGOs doing?

In both cases, nothing.

The Ministries nothing, because there is no kick-back in free stuff, and Third World pro-western dictatorships run ministries on the mission statement of extracting and channelling upwards illegal monies to the President.

The Donors and NGOs nothing because the West does not want the Third World to develop.  Full Stop.  Plain and Simple.  Explains why Development Cooperation/ Aid & Development Sector and Industry is so full of failure, incompetence, rubbish projects badly designed and badly implemented.

Of course there is also one problem – both of these great rich and underutilised resources need computers to be viewed or searched.   This then restricts greatly the potential audience, since only a small percentage of children in the Third World have access to computers at home or at school.

Thus I propose to re-master (see a recent 2011/08 article on my blog ) the content in both cases for viewing on DVD Players with DivX capability (which is most of them these days).  OK – we are still not hitting 100% coverage, but we are getting there.  My guess is we move from 2% of children to an average of 40% (10% -95% range depending on country, urbanisation, electricity provision and income levels) of third world children globally.  Distribution will be by download-and-burn and also by dvd airmail dispatches.

I am hoping that the majority of WFS can get onto one DVD of this kind.  The Gutenberg project is a very different case – there is so much densely packed stuff on the one (2006 version ) dvd that only a small but highly useful fraction will be extracted.  I propose Shakespeare, Somerset Maugham, RL Stevenson, Joseph Conrad, Victor Hugo, the great Russians, Ibsen and some other material.

Since all content is digital, then both projects are open to PC/Machine translation (Gutenberg less so, since we are actually dealing with readable literature and fiction).  Also of course many of the original articles hopefully are available on the Wikipedia website in different languages – therefore the Wikipedia For Schools Project themselves could hopefully in future issue several different language versions (?).

Interested Third World Governments and Ministries, Donors and NGOs wishing to consume or pre-order contact me (  – I can tell you the answer now – after 3 months there will be zero repeat zero enquiries or offers.

Any government or Donor wishing to fund my efforts and/or to fund dispatches also contact me ( – joke!  – bad joke!

Alex Weir, Gaborone, Botswana, Friday 12 August 2011

Appendix I

Out of interest – the language breakdown for Gutenberg is as follows:

english 31000
french  1866
spanish 288
portuguese 116

german 896
finnish 614
dutch 416
italian 184
swedish 70
latin 62
danish 46
norwegian 30
greek 10
russian 6
There may be other languages I didn’t pick up on…..

Appendix II
For project Gutenberg, average document size is 135k when zipped, probably 1 mb unzipped, approx. 200,000 words, 200 pages per document.

Thus we can think about 50 documents on one DVD-for-DVD-player (out of the 32,000)

It would make sense to have one French, one Spanish and one Portuguese DVD, since these are languages which are relatively widely spoken and read throughout the Third World (150 million, 500 million and 200 million population respectively in Third World)

Alliance Francaise would be an ideal partner for such a project for a French DVD.  Goethe Institute would be an ideal partner for a German DVD, but any direct Third World benefit would be minimal or zero.  British Council for an English DVD?

Alex Weir, Gaborone, Botswana, Friday 12 August 2011


About alexweir1949

software developer, inventor and innovator, Fraud Proof Voting Systems Inventor, founder of Based in Botswana and Zimbabwe, work everywhere.
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