During 2020 our focus is on building out and launching the SmartSenegal.com social network experience and cementing relationships for the massive uptake by teachers in Senegal and elsewhere in the developing world.
Relationships. Relationships. The SmartSenegal.com social network
During 2019 we secured key relationships for the start-up and growth of the SmartSenegal.com teacher social network – trusted local partnerships established from working over ten years in Senegal. Relationships emphasizing the private sector, teacher unions, and other key influencers outside of government control. It’s all about relationships!
SmartSenegal.com overcomes the persistent obstacles associated with teacher training, collaboration, and access to up-to-date learning resources in developing nations: it provides a highly supportive, empathetic platform for teachers to make new, meaningful connections with learning content and each other. Strategic use of artificial intelligence helps teachers locate and apply the best available resources.
Ground-breaking Research: The Digital Life of New Teachers
CyberSmart Africa conducted ground-breaking research about the digital life of new teachers – something never done before in Sub-Saharan Africa where teachers’ opinions rarely enter into decision making by education authorities. We surveyed 300 new Senegalese teachers and found that the vast majority (89 percent) own smartphones and are substantially more connected than the general public. New teachers are the power telecom users, representing the largest group of stable wage earners in developing countries. This is encouraging news both for telecom players, and for the development of new education solutions which embrace technology. See the Slideshare presentation here first presented at AfricaCom, Capetown, South Africa.
Schools continue to use CyberSmart Africa’s proof-of-concept solar-powered interactive whiteboard for low-cost classroom learning. Although not our current focus, this low-cost learning technology will play a key role to bring online and offline multimedia lessons to classrooms without, and with electricity.
I connected with The National Basketball Association to bring NBA Academy players and staff to the rural elementary school, Ecole Sinthiou Mbadane 1. The NBA Academy is a world-class facility designed to train elite African athletes. The players spent time in classrooms, played games with the kids, and provided inspiration just through their towering presence. We used basketball as a frame of reference for multimedia lessons in geometry – a basketball court is a rectangle!
American Chamber of Commerce
I have assumed a leadership role within the American Chamber of Commerce to strengthen American investment and influence in West Africa. The net impact can be huge, including transparency improvements, and embracing more problem solving and decision making at all levels.
2019 Community Service Activities
This year again we had numerous opportunities to serve students, teachers, and their families.
Student Health Care
Once again we were thrilled to arrange for the Maine (USA)-based Partners in World Health return to Ecole Sinthiou Mbadane1, CyberSmart Africa’s first partner school, to provide medical treatment for hundreds of children and their families.
Chef Pierre Thiam visit to Dakar
I was thrilled to facilitate a meeting between the internationally renowned American/Senegalese chef Pierre Thiam and U.S. Ambassador to Senegal, Tulinabo Mushingi. Pierre Thiam is widely recognized as the culinary ambassador of West African cuisine to the world.
Life-saving open heart surgery/Cardiovascular disease prevention
The Cuomo Pediatric Heart Hospital is the new hub for open heart surgery and medical education in the region. During September 2019 I was honored to sponsor life-saving open heart surgery performed on a young man in dire need. Aligned to the Senegalese national curriculum, lessons in cardiac disease prevention, including rheumatic fever, hypertension, and diabetes will all be a vital component of CyberSmart Africa’s new digital learning content.
Feature film “Tall as the Baobab Tree” This internationally acclaimed feature continues to impact tens of millions of people around the world, Produced by CyberSmart Learning Institute and filmed in the village where I started my work in Senegal over ten years ago, the film speaks to the power of education and its life changing consequences. A free teaching and study guide is available for teachers.
Micro-Sustainable development exemplified
Madame Fataya exemplifies the vision for financial sustainability at a micro-level. This woman increased her sales of street food and boosted her income by offering new, creative versions of a traditional Senegalese donut called “fataya.” We provided the coaching, recipes, and ingredients to make the initial batches. She’s been on her own for over six months, buying the ingredients and profitably selling new banana and apple fatayas to tourists and locals.