As we come towards the end of 2015, we thought it would be nice to look back on the year and remember all the fantastic things that together we have achieved!
Thanks to your support IT Schools Africa have been able to send a remarkable amount of computers, nearly doubling the amount we sent in 2014. The charity hit a milestone this year, sending 1,000 computers on a single shipment, earlier this month. This achievement was no easy task
and at times we did not know if it was going to be possible. We are hopeful that in 2016 we will be able to send even more computers to help close the digital divide sooner.
Our partner charities in Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe are growing stronger, despite obstacles and challenges that they have had to face this year. ITSA are forever grateful for the work the programme managers and their teams do; ensuring that the computers donated in the UK wind up exactly where they are meant to be.
In the UK ITSA have welcomed six new members to the team, nearly doubling in size since last year! The new roles help ITSA to bring in new donations, promote the work of the charity, and deal with complex IT issues that crop up during refurbishment.
Everything ITSA have achieved in 2015 would not have been possible without our incredibly dedicated and loyal volunteers. We are lucky to have a team that support the charity and what it is aiming to achieve. Thank you to every volunteer who has given their time to help in one way or another.
From everyone at IT Schools Africa we would like to thank everyone who has donated equipment, anyone who has told a friend or family member about ITSA, everyone who has followed and supported us on social media, and everyone who has donated funds to make this all possible.
Last week ITSA's biggest ever shipment left our Cheltenham HQ to begin its journey to Zambia. The container, carrying an incredible 1,000 computers, will arrive at our partner charity in Zambia in the New Year.
Packing 1,000 computers, flat screens and additional IT equipment is no easy job. We managed to film some behind the scenes footage of the fantastic warehouse staff and volunteers loading the 40ft container!
You can find out more about the great work IT Schools Africa have achieved this year in our latest newsletter.
It is not uncommon for us to fall short of flat screen monitors when it comes to preparing shipments. For some reason we rarely have enough flat screens to match up with the amount of computers we have.
This is the situation we were facing a few weeks back. With a big shipment due at the end of the month, the whole team were worried that we would not be able to send the shipment out on time.
Just as we were running out of options, we received a phone call. A young man from Ecclesiastical Insurance told us how the company were having computer upgrades and that, potentially, they could have hundreds of flat screen monitors to donate.
Fast forward a couple of weeks and there we were, in Gloucester, collecting over 100 computers from Ecclesiastical. On Friday 20th we took a second trip to collect another generous donation of flat screen monitors.
Thanks to Ecclesiastical our shipment to Zambia will go ahead at the end
of the month. We would like to say thank you, not only to Ecclesiastical for choosing to donate their equipment to ITSA, but also to the team who helped load over 100 flat screens on to our ITSA van. Tim, Ed, Nick, Jack and Darren were more than helpful and we would like to say a big thank you to them for giving up their time to lend a hand!
We hope this is the beginning of a new, long lasting, donor partnership!
Back in October, ITSA's Overseas Operations Manager, Lucy, spent the month in Africa visiting our three programmes in Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi. Find out how the schools are benefiting from computers donated in the UK...
What was it like visiting some of the schools that have benefited from IT Schools Africa?
As always it is so rewarding to see the computers that have been donated by schools, businesses and the public in the UK given a new lease of life - making such a difference to those that most need it. The great thing is, we are able to provide computers, not just for learning about IT but. to show schools, students and parents, the benefits of ICT. We give them what we take for granted every day, quick and easy communication, programmes that help with school homework, ability to write essays quicker, a tool to store contact details, the most powerful research tool at our finger tips, the list is endless.
How important is an education in IT to the next generation in Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi?
In urban areas it is very important to young people and increasingly so to businesses and the government of these countries. Ultimately we have to remember that the world is a smaller place, globalisation has brought us much closer, so what we have here in the UK, is seen by people thousands of miles away, they want what we have: to be able to communicate with their friends, type their coursework for University, set up their own small business or to manage their own finances.
Did anything surprise you when you visited the schools in Africa?
How integral school is to the students' lives; many schools that support areas densely populated are structured so they are open in two shifts to accommodate all of the students. It shows how important the school day is and how, as an institution, it is instrumental in helping to provide access to ICT. By providing computers and ICT training to teachers we are ensuring children receive an education in IT and benefit from the digital tools that will help them go on to further education and ultimately to get better jobs.
Has the IT equipment improved students' grades?
In ICT the student's grades have definitely improved. For example in one secondary school in Malawi the impact of one of our new computer labs has meant that the number of students taking ICT has increased from 160 (2013) to 960 (2014). The exam pass rate improved from 56% to 74%.
How much of an impact has the work carried out by ITSA in the UK, had on students in Africa?
It really does have an effect; what we do in the UK ensures the quality and specifications of the equipment complies with the local standards in Africa and importantly, meets the needs of the students and schools.
Besides IT lessons, what other ways are the schools using the computers?
Some teachers of other subjects use the computers to show educational videos or other interactive materials. They find this helps to make their lessons more interesting and can make topics easier to understand. It also helps to keep the students motivated, particularly when temperatures can reach 40 degrees!
With only 45 days till the big day, many of us have already made a start on our Christmas shopping.
According to statistics, last year almost a quarter of festive shopping was done online, with those figures expected to climb in 2015. This year, with the help of Give as You Live, you can make your Christmas even more magical and help to transform the lives and futures of children in Africa.
By signing up to Give as you Live and buying gifts at thousands of your favourite retailers, you'll be donating money to charity without spending a penny.
How do I donate to charity without it costing me anything?
That’s how Give as you Live works, you shop online and the retailers donate the money to charity – it truly is a simple as that.
We have put together this easy to follow video clip that shows you how you can become a supporter of IT Schools Africa and start raising money this Christmas.
Give a little Magic this Christmas, help us to change lives and build brighter futures for the children of Africa.
Monis, ITSA's IT Workshop Manager, has been with the charity since day one, so he's experienced all the highs and the lows over the last 11 years. This week we caught up with Monis to give an insight into his thoughts on his time with IT Schools Africa.
Tell us why IT Schools Africa is so important to you?
ITSA is my baby. I was there when it was born and I’ve been here to watch it grow over time as many wonderful people have chosen to nourish the charity by donating equipment. I feel blessed to have witnessed the first moments and to still be a part of the charity today. I truly believe that this charity brings out the good in everyone, I have worked with many volunteers from all different backgrounds and no matter where they come from or who they are, they help others when they come here and develop so many skills.
How has the charity grown since it was first founded in 2004?
It started just with word of mouth. The charities founder helped get the charity on its feet, contacting his friends in the business world and asking them not to throw away their IT equipment because we could give it a new life. We began gaining interest from the local newspaper who put together a nice article spreading the word of ITSA in Cheltenham. The article attracted a lot of local attention and we were flooded with computers people had chosen to give.
What is your favourite thing about being part of the team at ITSA?
Shipment days. Behind every shipment there are many stories of people who have developed and grown some have gained confidence they didn't have before, others are proud of a new skill they've learned. It is a great feeling knowing that a month later when that shipment of computers arrive, many children will be smiling in Africa.
What are your greatest memories over the past 11 years with the charity?
I have so many wonderful memories. I remember an elderly couple, who had gone to so much trouble to clean and repack their old computer and made the effort to find us in Cheltenham all because they wanted to
give something to others.
Something I have seen many times at ITSA, a shy volunteer arriving on their first day, confused probably asking themselves "what am I doing here?" But by day three they've gained new skills, made new friends, built up confidence and are enjoying the satisfaction of giving their time to help African students.
And finally, the wonderful smile on a child’s face as they sees a computer for the first time. Knowing that child has a chance to build a brighter future, that is what it’s all about.
Ever considered volunteering? We've put together six of the key benefits you can get from volunteering your time to help others.
If you would like to volunteer at IT Schools Africa, please contact
Last week, on a fairly dismal October morning, ITSA's fantastic team were busy loading a 20ft container full of IT equipment. This months shipment is heading straight for Zimbabwe, a country determined to ensure their
next generation is part of the digital age.
This IT equipment will help towards making sure children in Zimbabwe have the opportunity to have an education in IT, a subject so relevant in today's developing world.
With your support we will continue to send IT equipment to Africa to close the digital divide.
October 5th marks World Teachers' Day, an event celebrating the essential, influential role that teachers worldwide play in students lives.
Teachers in schools in Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi, who have benefited from ITSA's programmes, are fundamental in providing students with an inclusive IT education. Over the past decade IT Schools Africa have provided IT training for over 750 teachers, to ensure students in Africa get the most out of the IT equipment sent out.
We would like to take this opportunity on World Teachers' Day, to thank every teacher that has helped transform IT education in Africa!
"A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops."