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CLASSworks guides a school through all the essential parts connected to the establishment,
management, maintenance, and use of a computer lab

1. Project summary

While ICT developments in Western societies are booming, many African countries are only
beginning to explore the possibilities of the use of ICT. More and more initiatives from the
West are aimed at closing this "gap", mainly focusing on hardware and training in software
use. The vision of Viafrica is that this focus produces an unsatisfactory effect. More attention
should be paid to the practical application of ICT within the local context. ICT should be used
for the purpose of strengthening existing developments; it is not an aim as such.
In 2003, Joost Dam, the founder of Viafrica has been approached by COSTECH (Tanzanian
Commission for Science and Technology) with a demand of schools and parents in the
Kilimanjaro region to develop an ICT programme there. Joost Dam went to Tanzania to meet
with COSTECH and to visit some schools and two pilot schools were picked for an initial
CLASSworks project. Later on, three schools from Uganda applied to become part of the
programme and were implemented. During this test phase CLASSworks was further
developed and has started to run at full speed in Tanzania and later Kenya since 2005. In
2009 the programme will be expanded to Sierra Leone together with the local partner Sierra
Viafrica works together primarily with secondary schools in sub Saharan Africa. The primary
target group are the teachers and students that are reached through their schools. The
expectation is that a new middle class emerges from that target group which is able to serve
as a motor for economy and further developments.
CLASSworks: CLASSworks is an abbreviation for 'Computer Learning And Sustainable
Support works', guides a school through all the essential parts connected to the
management, maintenance, and use of a computer lab. The programme begins with the
preparation and startup of a suitable computer room and continues with training of teachers
and supporting the school in maintaining hard- and software.
Schools who want to participate have to take care of a suitable location for the computer
room and release several teachers who are to receive training for becoming an IT-teacher.
Viafrica takes care of the follow-up: delivery of hard- and software, implementation, teacher
training and support and maintenance. Supporting measures are seminars, trainings,
maintenance and end-user support. After that, the school is responsible independently. For
further support and trainings the local service center is always available, of course. Schools
are responsible for the running costs, teachers and infrastructure. They can close a contract
with the service centers and regularly pay a cost covering amount for the services they

2. Country (City / Region)
Kenya, Tanzania and Sierra Leone
3. Company/organization/institute presenting the project
Foundation Viafrica
4. Type of organization
Select type: 
non-profit organization
5. Project coordinator
Name and Surname: 
Emmy Voltman
6. Website
The website of the project: 
7. Please select the category in which you candidate your project
Youth Education Project. Select Project Users by age: 
Up to 18 years
Helping youth step in the job market: 
NOT Helping youth step in the job market
Creativity and Social Innovation: 
Creativity and Social Innovation
8. How long has your project been running?
9. Targets and Elements of Innovation
Please explain the targets and the background of your project: 

The goals on which grounds CLASSworks has been founded, are the possibilities for the
schools to
- broaden their curriculum by offering ICT lessons
- strengthen the existing curriculum by using computers and digital information methods
- support supporting activities (administration) through ICT
So the overall goal is to give education at secondary schools a broadening and deepening
impulse and to strengthen and extend the capacity in East Africa in the field of ICT servicing.
By offering ICT services on rural schools, we empower young people with ICT skills which
they will need on the labour market. The access to these skills is brought on an equal basis
on the schools to boys and girls whereas when not brought to secondary schools, access to
ICT is more focussed on boys and men. We thereby promote gender equality and empower
The focus lies as well on partnerships for development. In cooperation with the private
sector, CLASSworks makes the benefits of new technologies, especially information and
communication available. It offers youth and local communities’ access to ICT and thereby
equips them for the changing economy and information structure. An effort towards closing
the digital divide. Self-evidently better, broader education offers great advantages for the students, be it during
their academic or during their future professional career

What does it try to achieve and how: 

Equal access to ICT and ICT knowledge in African countries. Schools in Africa should be
able and equipped to provide high quality education that prepare students for the
requirements on the job market.
Viafricas vision on development is that projects should only be carried out when they have
legitimacy within the local context. This means that there has to be a local demand from
which the projects are formulated.
Apart from this, every project should be able to run independently after the project period.
This independence is shown in financial issues, but also in knowledge and a vision for the
future in which the projects turn into daily practice.
11.3 Which opportunities/problems does it address to?
African schools want to prepare their students as good as possible for the future, too. The
adaptation of education to social developments is very important. One social development is
automatisation which is is the starting point for CLASSworks (Computer Learning and
Sustainable Support Works).
There are hardly any possibilities to make use of ICT in education in sub-Saharan Africa due
to practical problems like
 the costs of a computer room at a school are too high
 knowledge about ICT/computers is absent or very limited
 there is no support and maintenance structure
 there is no education material/software
 there is no experience with computer education
The Digital Divide: There is an increasing importance of computer skills on the labour
market, secondary schools in East Africa strive to fulfill the requirements that are imposed
upon them by modern society. Those requirements are not only coming from the parents but
also from the public sphere and the labour market, an important subelement are computer
skills, crucial to prevent poverty.
Strengthen academic capacities in sub-Saharan Africa: Viafrica prepares students for
careers in higher education where computer skills are necessary; ICT means access to
knowledge and information needed for academic activities.
The strengthening of the ICT service capacity in East-Africa is justified through the demand
from the market that reaches our Service Centres in Moshi and Nairobi. This demand is
expressed by:
 the CLASSworks schools;
 non-CLASSworks schools with ICT infrastructure;
 other organisations with an ICT infrastructure.
In the regions where Viafrica is active there are no professional ICT service providers who
can answer this demand. The result is that we are confronted with a lot of broken hardware,
old software, viruses and users that are not geared for their tasks from other projects and
initiatives. The Viafrica Service Centres in Moshi and Nairobi more and more are asked to
provide an answer to these questions as we are one of the few organisations on the ground.

Please explain what is unique or special in your project: 

First of all, the projects of Viafrica are special because they focus on the middle class, not on
the poorest of the poorest. CLASSworks focuses on people with opportunities and develop
and expand them together. This does not mean that the poorest of the poorest need help
too. But, to work towards real sustainability and independence within development projects,
we think focusing on the middle class is the way to go forward. Humanitarian aid (focusing
mainly on the poorest of the poorest) is a different way of helping. Really necessary, but not
working in the field of development and education were Viafrica is present.
Secondly, Viafrica is an organisation working towards real sustainability, in a sense that all
funds for projects are only used for a start up / investment phase, but as soon as possible we
want projects to run on their own. A lot of development organisations or projects state that
they have the same goal. But in practice it is difficult to reach real sustainability because in a
lot of cases local (partner) organisations are not becoming project owners, whereas Viafrica
thinks this is the only way to become really independent. All schools (our local partners)
within the CLASSworks programme become project owners. They are responsible to run the
project in a sustainable manner. Viafrica only supports them to become and stay
During the last years it became clear that this way of working in Africa or in development
countries is quite unique.

10. Results
Describe the results of your project as per today: 

From 2004 till now, Viafrica has implemented 85 CLASSworks schools in Tanzania, Kenya
and Uganda. The schools are serviced by Service Centers. All schools are using the
computers for teaching and the reactions of both teachers and students are very positive. In
2008 the first schools joined the national examinations in computer science. Viafrica has
proved that with professional services it is very possible to sustain ICT within education
combined with a self-sustaining Service Center.
In 2005, the independent regional office and service centre in Moshi, Tanzania was set up. It
is is responsible for the CLASSworks programme in Tanzania and offers service contracts
for schools. Currently, the centre provides assistance to schools participating in the
CLASSworks programme, start-up of computer rooms, training for the teaching staff,
seminars for school boards and others who are interested, and maintenance of the ICT hardand
software. As a regional office, the team in Moshi is responsible for the overall
coordination of the CLASSworks programme. A second service centre, responsible for the
CLASSworks schools in Kenya has been established in Nairobi, Kenya.
The interest for the CLASSworks programme is large. More and more organisation
acknowledge the value and are interested in using the CLASSworks principles in their
environment. This interest comes from both international as well as local organisations. In
most cases the question is whether Viafrica can expand to new areas in which they work. Clearly Viafrica's capacity is not large enough to respond to these requests. However, there
are possibilities which are being explored. If Viafrica can find a good local partner with
sufficient experience and capacities it is very possible to expand CLASSworks through them.
So far this is being done with Ukengee in Tanzania, Linknet in Zambia and Sierra e-riders in
Sierra Leone.

How does it fulfill the users’ needs: 

Students of CLASSworks school have access to computers / computer education
· Teachers have the opportunity to receive trainings and make use of the CLASSworks
box and e-learning material made available by Viafrica
· Schools are able to raise their profile and improve the education they can offer

How many users interact with your project per month and what are the preferred forms of interaction: 

In the Netherlands, external interaction with the CLASSworks project takes place primarily
through the Viafrica website and the quarterly newsletter that is being published.
In Africa, there are several modes of interaction with the CLASSworks schools. First of all,
headmaster seminars are organised on a regular basis where the headmasters of
CLASSworks schools are invited to discuss the development of the project and for evaluation
purposes. During regular school visits Viafrica employees visit the CLASSworks schools on
site, and teacher, students and headmasters can come up with any CLASSworks related
questions or problems they have. For this purpose, there is also a helpdesk available in the
local Viafrica offices that can be reached by phone, email, post or personally. There are
teacher trainings offered in the Viafrica office as well, where IT teachers are being trained
and CLASSworks related issues can be discussed.

How has it improved the quality of educational and/or training services: 

At CLASSworks schools there are ICTs available and computer education can be
· The computers can be used in other subject lessons as well
· Administrative activties are supported by the use of ICTs provided through the
CLASSworks programme
· The service centres are contact points for any maintenance related questions and
computer trainings

How has it improved the participation of professionals, children, youth and other stakeholders: 

Viafrica organises headmaster seminars on a regular basis in the local service
centres in Moshi (Tanzania) and Nairobi (Kenya). The evaluation and input of the
schools is highly appreciated by Viafrica.
· Viafrica involves headmasters, teachers and students in evaluating the project
(school reports)

11. Sustainability
What is the full duration of your project: 
Less than 1 year
What is the approximate total budget for your project (in USD): 
From 75.001 to 500.000
What is the source of funding for your project: 
Is your project economically self sufficient now: 
12. Transferability
Has your project been replicated/adapted elsewhere: 

Ukengee in Southern Tanzania (up and running)
· Linknet in Zambia (preparatory phase)
· Sierra e-riders in Sierra Leone (starting 2009)

What lessons can others learn from your project: 

South-South internships
Part of the professionalisation of the ICT network is offering internships to staff of ICT
companies within the network. During the internships at the service centres of Viafrica all
aspects of a service organisation are discussed and the intern will co-operate.
The aim of the internship is to have the staff experience in which way a professional service
centre functions and have him/her return to his/her own organisation to put it into practice.
The interns get their travelling expenses and accommodation reimbursed; any salary costs
have to be paid by the partner organisations.
South-South training
Next to the internships, specific training courses are organised for network organisations.
These training courses mainly take place on site and are attended by representatives of
multiple organisations.
The training courses are given by local employees of Viafrica from their experience with all
aspects of service management and CLASSworks. These training courses cover many
areas, from technical training to training on management software. The precise content of a
course is determined by the demand and the level of the network organisations.
Partnerships – Franchise
More organisations have shown interest in the CLASSworks concept. With one of them a
concrete cooperation has been established, which started early 2009. Within this
cooperation the CLASSworks framework is used in a new area in the South of Tanzania.
Viafrica will train the operational manager and trainers of the local partner Ukengee.
Ukengee will use the CLASSworks procedures for secondary schools in the South of
Tanzania. Viafrica in its turn will profit from the experience with solar energy and low-energy
consuming computers that will be used by Ukengee at the schools.
A Memorandum of Understanding with LinkNet Zambia has also been signed and is due to
start in 2009. In Sierra Leone Viafrica has selected a local partner as well. Early 2009 a pilot
tender was successfully carried out in Sierra Leone. In 2009 we expect to implement the first
CLASSworks schools in Sierra Leone through the Sierra e-riders, a local NGO. The main
idea is that Viafrica offers the local organisation everything there is to know about
CLASSworks, including the concept of the service contracts with schools. Through this
income the local organisation is able to sustain without external dependence. Only the initial
hardware investments, installation and training is funded. For every school the local
organisation receives a fixed amount and Viafrica provides the hardware and international
With these and future partners in more areas and countries Viafrica aims at strengthening
more secondary schools and setting a solid and professional foundation by using a common
set of procedures and the same framework. As the network grows the accumulation of
knowledge, solutions and experience grows. From the Viafrica offices in both Kenya and
Tanzania it can already been seen that the exchange of employees brings new insights and
working approaches. Another advantage is the economies of scale that can be achieved for
hardware, shipments, training courses, etc...

We are available to help others starting or working on similar projects: 
We are available to help others starting or working on similar projects.
13. Background information

→ the CLASSworks programme has been continuously running since it has been established and there is no end date planned. However, within the CLASSworks programme the individual school projects can be singled out. If a school is becoming a CLASSworks school, there is an implementation period of less than one year. During that time the school receives the equipment for a computer lab and initial teacher trainings. After that period the schools become project owners themselves and are able to run the project independently. Most of the times they close a service contract with the Viafrica service centre for maintenance of the computer lab CLASSworks schools become project owners and are independent after the implementation period is over. However, new implementations of the CLASSworks programme require initial funding. NB: Viafrica Business Solutions (VBS). VBS is an initiative of the Foundation Viafrica. It is a for profit organisation that sells hardware, software and ICT trainings. A large portion of its profit is going to support the activities of the Foundation and contributes to increase financial independence

Political unrest
The year 2008 started with political unrest in Kenya which resulted in riots and a very
insecure situation. Viafrica Kenya was very much affected. Our employees origin from
Nairobi and are Kikuyu. However the Viafrica Kenya office and the CLASSworks schools
were situated in Kisii which is a Luo area. The clash was between those two groups. The
Viafrica Kenya employees were put in a very insecure, and potentially life threatening,
position. In the Rift Valley, on the road from Nairobi to Kisii was a lot of violence against
“other” tribes. Next to this the situation in and around Kisii became very tense. People started
speaking their mother tongue instead of Swahili. Viafrica employees were therefore
constantly recognized as “aliens” and verbally harassed.
Viafrica took the decision to organise a training month in the Viafrica Tanzania office in
Moshi. The decision was made to await how the situation would develop and take further
decisions in February. At that time things luckily cooled down and, although still tense, were
workable. However, as nobody could predict how the situation on the longer term would
develop, Viafrica decided to move its office from Kisii to Nairobi. This decision was
communicated to the CLASSworks schools, which of course were disappointed but also
understood the decision. It was agreed that three times a year Viafrica Kenya employees
visit the schools for support. Something that proved very workable for both the schools and
Viafrica. The office in Nairobi was organised quite fast and early May Viafrica started
introducing the CLASSworks programme in deprived areas in and around Nairobi. This
resulted in 18 new CLASSworks schools in Kenya. All in all the political situation of early
2008 had a great impact on both the employees and the practical operation in Kenya.
However, the outcome is that there is a well Illustration 2: outside the new Viafrica Kenya
office in Nairobi established office in Nairobi and that all involved came out well.
Safety situation
Late 2008 and early 2009 saw a huge increase in robberies in Moshi. It is normal that before
Christmas and Eastern there is an increase as people need money for these days. However
the situation remained bad all over. Organised robberies are performed almost every night. It
became really close when the Viafrica guards told us that they were offered part of the profit
when they would cooperate with certain robbers. Luckily enough they decided to inform
Viafrica so that we could increase the security level even more. However in the same period
robbers went a few times for the private house of one of our employees. He faced eight
armed (knives and guns) guys who were looking for “the guy who worked with Wazungu”
(white people). Apparently they didn't know who exactly to look for and tortured the
neighbour, a very old lady, to tell them, without success. These guys have come back five
times during night but were scared away by the dogs and new guards. Although not
Viafrica's prime responsibility, the employees safety at home is an issue. The Viafrica
employees become targets because they work for a successful organisation. Where possible
Viafrica assist the employees to improve the security situation. Besides the district officer has
been informed about the situation.
Personnel changes
By the end of 2008 three Viafrica Tanzania employees left. All three choose for a career
somewhere else. Unfortunately Viafrica Tanzania didn't get the chance to negotiate with
them and keep them. Apart from one trainer, the other two just didn't appear any more. No
explanations, we can just guess for the real reasons. One of the reasons could be that other
NGO's offer much higher salaries as Viafrica does. Salaries for which they can never be
competitive in the local market. However this is not an issue for these organisations as they
are totally internationally funded. These developments are killing for the local economies as
the people with knowledge will no longer be interested in working for local companies with
local salaries like Viafrica Tanzania. We realise that we are an excellent place to start a
career, but that we will most likely not be able to keep our employees for years. There for
from early 2009 onwards we will make sure that we offer continuous internships in both the
Kenya and the Tanzania office. This pool of interns will be our buffer if we need new
employees. On the other hand, these internships are very useful for the interns as they
acquire practical knowledge and skills.
Some bottlenecks of CLASSworks
The current modus operandi is restricted by the following factors which we have to address
in order to be able to reach a next level of use with the schools.
Practice versus theory
Teachers have ample experience with computer teaching. Within the formal CLASSworks
training programme they acquire the basic knowledge needed to start training the national
ICT curriculum. However, this knowledge does not turn them into ICT teachers as there is
little time for practical teaching.
Teaching ICT requires different skills, however, in comparison to the more traditional
classes. It is more interactive, allows more exploration by the students and the possibilities
are much broader.
Rural context
The rural context of most CLASSworks schools makes it difficult for the schools to send
teachers and staff to the Viafrica training centre. It involves a lot of travel time and costs,
apart from the fact that most schools cannot miss their staff or teachers for days in a row.
Experience shows that organising training courses during school holidays does not work as
well as few teachers stay in the same area. Most of them visit family living all over the
country or have other activities.
Different levels at the schools
Not all schools are at the same level when it comes to computer use. Some have more
experienced computer teachers, they did not receive computers at the same time and
therefore use computers for a different period, schools have different demands, etc. It is very
difficult to match this with a standardised training programme that goes beyond basic use
which is currently the level of the Viafrica training courses.
Experience and expectations
Most schools have hardly any experience with computers and computer maintenance.
Neither teachers nor headmasters do exactly know what to expect in practice. Despite the
fact that Viafrica puts it on the agenda during seminars, headmasters and teachers still have
difficulties reporting faulty hardware, breakdowns or software errors to the Viafrica service
The result is that Viafrica discovers this only during the six-monthly on-site service visits. In
some cases computers were not used for months because of a faulty power socket which
could be fixed in five minutes. However as long as there are schools where headmasters
blame the computer teachers and hold them personally responsible, this behaviour will not
Fear for the national rankings
Every school is ranked for the national examinations per subject/class. These rankings are
published annually and are publicly available. Viafrica noticed that schools were hesitant to
offer national examinations in computer science. The main obstacle was the lack of
experience and confidence with the subject and the fear that this would result in bad results
for the national examinations.
Part of the decision of parents for a school for their children is based on the national ranking.
A low ranking can thus result in fewer students and thus fewer school fees.
For all the above bottle necks a possible solution is to work more closely with the schools in
the school environment. The advantages are:
· work with all involved at the same time
· see the reality of the teachers and headmasters
· support the users during their daily work
· work for longer periods with the users
· offer assistance during classes
The future plans listed below give an idea of how Viafrica is planning to tackle these current
16.4 Future plans and wish list: Briefly describe future plans or ambitions for your
project and what you would require to make them true.
The strategy for CLASSworks is to go to the next level and stimulate the use of computers as
a tool within education. CLASSworks 2009 – 2011 is focussed on the facilitation of this next
step for most schools. Activities entail more on site support, training of more teachers and
staff at the schools and the development of cross subject materials.
Part of this strategy is to work in closer relationship with the governments. The Tanzanian
Education Authority is interested in a Memorandum of Understanding with Viafrica. From this
and other, more regional, cooperations we hope to get more leverage for CLASSworks.
Another important issue is to get accreditation of Ubuntu/the use of OpenSource for
examination of the national curriculum. Besides, other educational related solutions will be
explored. Viafrica has a programme for primary schools called KIDSworks that will be
launched early 2010. A solution for locations without proper infrastructure is also being
developed so that we can extend our activities to other areas in Tanzania and Kenya.
CLASS works Award: Good computer usage within the school environment has to be
stimulated from within the school. Therefore Viafrica challenges all Tanzanian schools with
two awards. From 2009 onwards, Viafrica grants anually an award to the school with the best
idea for the use of ICT within education and to the schools which perform best in the national
computer education examination. Prizes to win range from new computers for the schools to
free training courses at the Viafrica traning centres, memory sticks, certificates etc.
During a one-day event all CLASSworks schools can present their idea for the use of ICT
within education. Of course this idea has to be presented by electronic means. Most
important is that Viafrica will facilitate the further development of the idea and dissemination
to other CLASSworks schools.
The schools that perform best in the national computer education curriculum also receive
CLASSworks awards. The objective of this award is to stimulate schools to participate and
excel in the national examinations and thus enable their students to receive an officially
recognised examination score.

The objective of the CLASSworks awards is to stimulate schools to explore the possibilities
of ICT in the context of their school and share these with other schools. Furthermore,
schools should be stimulated to participate and excel in the national ICT examinations and
thus enabling their students to receive an officially recognised examination score.
CLASS works box: Another tool to stimulate the potential of ICT for education is the
CLASSworks box. This box is a set of learning tools, assignments and materials. Each box
has one subject that is approached from multiple points of view. The assignments are
focussed on exploring and developing competence based learning. The idea is that this
multidisciplinary approach supports the exchange between the subjects taught in the school
and shows the value of computers within the educational process. Students are encouraged
to use knowledge from different subjects to complete the assignments. The tasks are
performed both inside and outside the classrooms and focus on a team effort, the use of the
environment and alternative sources of information. Finally, the usage of the available ICTs
at the schools should not be restricted to the computer education lessons. Other teachers
should make use of these technologies as well in their respective subjects lessons.
E-learning platform: Viafrica is currently working on the development of an e-learning
platform that provides access to digital educational material for the CLASSworks schools.
This platform will be accessible through a server that will be installed at all CLASSworks
schools. The CLASSworks box will be linked to educational material that is available via the
Internet: Currently most CLASSworks schools do not have an internet connection because
they are located in rural areas and additionally internet access is generally very expensive.
Viafrica is looking for a payable solution for internet access in rural areas. This has been
made a topic together with the magazine Computable.
CLASSworks franchise: In the upcoming years, Viafrica hopes to be able to build more,
strong partnerships with local organisations in Africa who are interested in the CLASSworks
A well functioning knowledge transfer system in order to meet the educational needs of
present and future employees. Besides the already implemented knowledgesystems the
regional team in Tanzania has to develop further. This team is crucial for the local support of
the service centres. In 2008 the first steps have been taken. A new cooperation with the
company TOPdesk is being established. TOPdesk focusses on service management
systems that can be used at Viafrica's local offices.
A well functioning service organisation that can serve Viafrica's target group most
efficiently. In 2006 the grounds have been layed through an independent consultant. Since
2008 Viafrica has extended its cooperation with the company IT-staffing that sends
independent IT consultants to the local Viafrica service centres. Several of such missions
have already been completed and yielded important insights for improvements and further
E-Waste: Viafrica will work further on awareness raising and solutions for e-waste. In
cooperation with the Technical University Delft and the organisation ICT~Milieu the possibilities
for a (pilot) project are being developed.

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