Every business has one don’t they? A slightly grubby corner where old discarded computing equipment languishes unloved and no longer wanted until someone gets really fed up with looking at it and decides to do something about it. But… what to do?
We know this equipment is no longer useful to us but feel that surely it must be useful to someone, but what about the data on the hard drive, can we be sure that we aren’t infringing any data security requirements by donating old IT equipment? So we hang on to it for another 6 months and then think about taking them to the tip again and decide no it must be useful to someone and round we go again as the dust piles up.
IT Schools for Africa provides a neat and very pleasing way to solve this problem. They have been providing millions of children in Africa with access to the tools to give them a better quality eduction since 2004 using donated equipment which is collected and refurbished and then provided to schools via their partner charities. This equipment can then be used to create e-learning labs in schools in countries such as Malawi, Kenya, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Each charity has a board of trustees with specialist knowledge of ICT and education and local governments are closely involved so that on-the-ground support is ensured. This equipment allows students to improve their job prospects and also allows opportunities to access tertiary education. Basic support and training to the teachers is also provided by IT Schools for Africa. Also important is the approach to data security which is taken very seriously and all data is wiped from the machines we use specialist CESG approved software. CESG is the information security arm of GCHQ and is the National Technical Authority for Information Assurance within the UK so you can have complete confidence that all data will be properly wiped before the machines are refurbished. More on IT Schools for Africa‘s approach to data security can be found here
The statistics speak for themselves; in 2013 1 e-learning lab was donated to a school in Malawi, by 2015 this had risen to 15 e-learning labs in schools in Africa. 2008 saw 10,000 refurbished computers sent to Africa, by 2011 an impressive 30,000 were sent.
The good work also is extended to the UK, where IT Schools for Africa, based in Cheltenham, work with The Prince’s Trust and back to work agencies to provide training opportunities to those out of work. Volunteers develop useful skills, including, IT, communication and those from the workplace as they refurbish and set up the computers ready to be sent out to Africa. There are other schemes currently running in UK prisons to enable prisoners to learn new and practical IT skills which can help them build a new life once their term of imprisonment ends.
So, how can you help?
Well, the point of this blogpost was to highlight the opportunity for you to pass on your old equipment to somewhere that can use them to help others. There are caveats of course. Equipment should be in working order and computers and laptops no older than 6 years old, however IT Schools for Africa will gratefully accept the following:
- Flat screens
- Smart phones
- Keyboards and mice
- Cables and power leads
Donations can be sent online via Virgin Money Giving and volunteers and fund raisers are always welcomed.
Give as you live is an easy way to give as 1,000s of retailers will give a free donation when you shop online.
Start clearing out your unwanted IT equipment today!
Wendy Clifford is a writer with a longstanding interest in Technology and its impact on our lives both from a business and in a social sense. She can be found listening to music (analogue, digital and generally in a field with a Gin and Tonic), writing and reading, or scavenging for free food from the hedgerows which she turns into jellies and jams.
Contact her via Twitter @wendyjoy1