November 3, 2010 – Taking IT Global, a non profit organisation with an online social network that helps young people solve social issues is working to have its website available in Swahili.
Co-founder Michael Furdyk says translators from Kenya and Tanzania are working to enable access to a Swahili version of takingitglobal.com, and work should be complete by sometime next year.
“The translations are done by students and volunteers, and we’re hoping the Swahili site will be up and ready sometime next year,” he told Capital Lifestyle.
“We are a non-profit organisation and only have 15 staff. So we usually have a lot of volunteers doing things like translations and maintenance of the site. Its currently available in 12 languages.”
TakingITglobal.com has accumulated an estimated 5 million users in several countries over the ten years of its existence.
“We were there before MySpace and Facebook and we have been working to help young people tackle social issues around the world by sharing information on the site. We get a lot of support from governments and NGOs with our online programs.”
There are programs that help in the development of ICT skills and social entrepreneurship.
“We have tools that help young students develop plans of action, steps to change, guidance on how to influence their peers to change and even how to secure funding for various projects. There are about 2000 projects we are involved in globally and the main focus is HIV/Aids and Climate Change,” says Furdyk.
He explains that though there are a wide range of social issues in the world, one that lies at the core of the very existence of mankind is the environment.
“We believe that by creating that awareness among children at a young age, we will be creating that bond with the environment. So whether they end up in the political arena, whether they are businessmen, these issues will be regarded.”
Furdyk said they decided to translate the website in Swahili after his co-founder attended a Youth Employment Summit in Nairobi recently and drew a lot of interest from young Kenyans attending her session, where she talked about takingITglobal.
Furdyk made the remarks on the sidelines of the Worldwide Innovative Education Forum in Cape Town, South Africa, where TakingITGlobal in collaboration with research experts the Smithsonian Institute and Microsoft announced the launch of their SHOUT campaign.
The campaign aims to use students from around the world to conduct research on the growth of trees in their region using specific kits, and data accrued will be shared and compared with students in other regions.
“Smithsonian will actually use the data collected as part of their global research on the effects of climate change. The website is www.shoutlearning.org. Schools can get to know more about the SHOUT program on this site and once they show they can sustain the project in their institutions for about 3 years or more, they are signed up,” he said.
Also talking to Capital Lifestyle, General Manager for Microsoft’s Partners in Learning Lauren Woodman said the exciting aspect of the Shout campaign was its multi-faceted nature.
“The difference in whichever kind of school involved is the passion the teachers have and the excitement the student leaders are able to bring on the table. Land issues are the focal point now, but learning in partnerships will help create even more programs in future. One important thing we have discovered is that communities need to be involved in changing communities,” she explained.
Two schools in South Africa were used to launch the program but Michael Furdyk says SHOUT is open to any school that successfully applies.
“Currently we have 500 kits, but more will be availed in the near future.”