WikiChallenge African Schools
Presentation of the writing competition
The WikiChallenge African Schools is a writing competition. It is a competition dedicated to pupils aged 8-13 and which takes place in several French-speaking African countries such as Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Guinea, Tunisia, Madagascar, Mali, Niger and Senegal.
The objective is to learn how knowledge is constituted by contributing through the Vikidia platform, the Wikipedia for children. Pupils from participating schools are invited to write encyclopedic articles on a subject relating to their immediate environment. The competition is open to organizations that are part of the network of Orange Digital Schools and using (WikiFundi), a platform of Wiki editing in offline mode. Indeed, one of the peculiarities of these schools is… that they are not not connected to the Internet!  Their participation therefore implies the presence of an on-site digital facilitator (and possibly the help of Wikimedians and Vikidians) responsible for training, facilitating and ultimately collecting the content produced by the students. The articles submitted by the children are all published on the Vikidia encyclopedia, less known to the general public than its big sister Wikipedia. Better known in educational circles, Vikidia has been developing for 12 years on principles similar to those of the well-known encyclopedia, but aimed at a younger audience, 8-13 year olds. It is distributed in the same way as Wikipedia, under the same license, and is open to the participation of young and old, according to rules co-constructed by the community of editors.
The competition is open to schools in the Digital Schools network of the Orange Foundation. It is aimed at students from around 9 to 13 years old, and fits into the pedagogical and educational framework. A teacher or school staff as a team can supervise and support it, with the local support of the Orange Foundation. Orange's support is expressed through the presence and support of a digital facilitator.
The theme of writing is free...but it is strongly suggested to create an article concerning the environment close to the school: its city, its village, a geographical point of interest, a museum located nearby or a local curiosity. The writing style should be suitable for an encyclopedic publication.
The key elements of the competition:
- improve teachers' ability to learn, understand, contribute and foster contribution to Wikipedia (and other Wikimedia projects) within their school;
- an illustrated article by Vikidia about the village of each school (or about the city, neighborhood, local industry or geographic feature nearby);
- a friendly, inclusive and transdisciplinary project, generating satisfaction for the participants;
- https://fr.vikidia.org/wiki/Projet:WikiChallenge_Ecoles_d%27Afrique : Main page of the competition
- https://www.facebook.com/ConcourswikiChallengeEcolesdAfrique/ Facebook page of the competition
- https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:WikiChallenge_African_Schools : Images on Wikimedia Commons related to the competition
Education, Offline, WikiFundi, Vikidia, Writing competition, Francophonie, Africa
- 9 countries (Tunisia, Guinea Conakry, Madagascar, Mali, Cameroon, Senegal, DRC, Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso)
- 100 Schools
- 138 submitted by the pupils
- 869 Photos, drawings et videos produced by the pupils
- 20 Winning schools
- 7 countries (Tunisia, Guinea Conakry, Cameroon, Madagascar, Mali, Niger, Senegal)
- 65 Schools
- 99 texts submitted by the pupils
- 600+ Photos, drawings et videos produced by the pupils
- 11 Winning schools
- 4 countries (Tunisia, Guinea Conakry, Madagascar, Mali)
- 33 Schools
- 40 texts submitted by the pupils
- 6 Winning schools
The project is a training and writing program designed for schools. It is targeted at the education community towards using wikimedia tools to acquire and share knowledge to develop skills of the youth and of their teachers.
The program help the kids to gain new skills, such as digital skills (using technology), collaborative writing, knowledge sharing, or information searching.
Additionally, they experience critical thinking and peer review. It is also the opportunity to get an initial understanding of intellectual property rights and open source. It is hoped that this project will participate in helping the students grow up as informed and active e-citizens.
The project team provide training the trainers activities, hence bringing new skills to the teachers as well.
Finally, the project result in the production and publication of information on the Internet, under a free license, for use by the greater public. This participate to the visibility of Africa on the Internet, and bring a feeling of pride to under-represented and poorly-served communities.
The program is equally for male and female.
The project will use, but to mention a few:
- Vikidia: the children encyclopedia. Whilst not a wikimedia project, this is an active project in our ecosystem.
- Wikimedia Commons : The kids contribute pictures (and possibly videos) onto Wikimedia Commons
- WikiFundi: the schools have access to an offline operational platform including the use of raspberry Pis, Wikifundi and Kiwix resources.
Benefits for the children
The competition encourages students to work together to create an article related to their environment. It can be an article about their village, a notable person, a point of geographical interest...
The competition is created to give students the opportunity to acquire practical research and synthesis of information experience, for a collaborative activity to contribute to the improvement of Wikipedia. The competition will more particularly:
- facilitate the training of students in practical writing on Wikipedia;
- give students essential skills such as information research, navigation, citation of sources etc..
- facilitate the acquisition of writing skills on Wikipedia itself (construction of articles, use of categories, taking photos to illustrate the articles submitted to the competition)
- contribute to enrich Wikipedia with articles written by Africans about Africa;
The competition in 2017-2018
The competition was deployed for 2 months in 4 different countries (Tunisia, Madagascar, Mali, Guinea). The competition is particularly intended for schools in the Orange Digital Network and the competition is organized in partnership with teams from the local Orange Foundation. The Orange Foundation groups were supported online by Anthere (Florence), or by Wikimedians, such as Afek from Wikimedia Tunisia. Some leaders have also been trained using the WikiMooc offered by Wikimedia France. The objective of the project was to reinforce the capacity of each school to discover, to learn to use, as well as to contribute to an encyclopedic resource such as Vikidia or Wikipedia. The content produced by the pupils was then integrated into Vikidia (the encyclopedia for 8-13 year olds). The activities organized in the schools were followed as best as possible via the competition's Facebook account.
In 2018, 6 schools received awards. The following articles were concerned:
- Tl’Usine d’alumine de Fria by the pupils of the Ecole Primaire de Sabendè for Guinea
- L’île Antsoheribory by the pupils of EPP Fanantenana - Mahajanga for Madagascar
- Les fêtes en Tunisie by the pupils of ESKHIRA - Tastour for Tunisie
- Le Fort de Médine by the pupils of CSHFOS 1erCycle - Kayes for Mali
The Love at first sight articles:
- Les jeux populaires sahariens by the pupils of BECHNI - Gebel
- Le gouvernement des enfants et le mariage for Mali the pupils of Yanfolila 1er cycle « A » - Yanfolila
For further info
- Wikimedia Education Newsletter January 2018
- Wikimedia Education Newsletter November 2018
- Article published on the Wikimedia France blog in 2017
The competition in 2018-2019
In your opinion, what is the relationship between articles on:
- a dog who eats his Cameroonian master (and the culinary rites that result from this sad episode) ;
- or how, following a rural exodus, a service of carts transporting people was set up in a Senegalese city;
- or this story of a Malian heroine who saved her village from invaders with the help of an army of bees;
- or techniques for making secular walls in the central highlands of Madagascar?
Answer...these are all winning articles from the African Schools WikiChallenge 2019 contest!
For this second year of writing competition, 96 articles were submitted by pupils (9-11 years old) from 65 schools from 7 African countries (Madagascar, Mali, Cameroon, Niger, Guinea, Tunisia and Senegal) for publication in Vikidia. The project was also accompanied by the publication of nearly 500 images on Wikimedia Commons (despite numerous deletions...).
In 2019, the competition was renewed in a larger number of countries (Senegal, Niger and Cameroon came to enrich the initial group). In order to be more efficient, in the Fall we organized two two-day face-to-face training sessions, one in Dakar and the other in Tunis. The objective was to provide more practical and contextual information to Orange Foundation facilitators (concerning Wikipedia, Vikidia, Wikimedia, Wikimedia Commons, WikiFundi, free licenses etc.). The training sessions were organized by Anthere, with the support from Afek91 from Wikimedia Tunisia in Tunis, and Geugeor from Cameroon in Dakar. Both were also helped by facilitators from previous years, such as Bsghaier (Tunisi mediator in 2017) and wiki / User: NfanaMediateur Nfana (mediator in 2017 for Mali and who has now launched Wikimedia Mali!). The 7 facilitators then got in touch with the schools. Whenever possible, we have tried to connect mediators with locally active Wikipedians, for mutual benefit.
The children had two months to write their articles. The articles were then integrated into Vikidia by educational facilitators. A jury met in early June to decide on the national winners and the three international winners. The awards were then announced in mid-June to the national teams gathered at an event in Paris. The national prize-giving will take place in different countries by the Fall of 2019 and the competition will close with a grand prize-giving ceremony in Paris.
For further information
- Article in Wikimedia Education Newsletter January 2019
- Presentation in poster form at Wikimania Stockholm
- Presentation during Wikimania (In English)
- Article published on the Wikimedia France blog
- Article in Wikimedia Education Newsletter Septembre 2019
- WikiIndaba Nov 2019
The competition in 2019-2020
In 2020, the competition is extended to 8 countries (Tunisia, Mali, Cameroon, Madagascar, Senegal, Guinea, Ivory Coast, DRC) and more than 100 schools. Most of the facilitators remain the same, but two new teams are joining us (DRC and Ivory Coast). We decide to only provide online training and advice for early 2020, but everyone is expected to meet in June in Jordan for further training and experience sharing. COVID-19 will change our plans...the competition is suspended for several months and the deadline for submitting articles is pushed back to the end of November, with the hope that some schools will reopen and that it will be possible for them to participate in the program. The face-to-face meeting is naturally canceled.
At the end of December, we closed the submissions with 69 articles, 400+ photos and 11 videos. The winners will be announced in May 2021.
For further information
- 28 may 2020 : WikiChallenge was presented during the #OpenPublish Fest, within the session "Wikipedia Campaigns: How to rally volunteers to improve wiki content". That webinar organized by Pete Forsyth from WikiStrategies featured Florence Devouard, Kevin Payravi & Rosie Stephenson-Goodnight .
- September 2020: We had the pride to see one of the student of the contest, Sarra from l’école de Taourit Djerbaqui, honored during the "journée nationale du Savoir" by Mr President of Tunisia ;
- October 6 2020: presentation of WikiFundi, an Open Source Platform to Learn New Skills and Collaborate on Wikipedia-like Articles, which included a presentation of the WikiChallenge at OE Global Conference 
The competition in 2020-2021
In 2021, the competition is maintained in the same 8 countries as in 2020 (Tunisia, Mali, Cameroon, Madagascar, Senegal, Guinea, Ivory Coast, DRC) and more than 100 schools.
In view of the pandemic situation, we made the decision to bring together the competitions for the two years 2020 and 2021. In the end, the competition took place in 9 countries over the two years with great success.
For more information
- November 2021 : WikiIndaba 2021 Panel on offline with a brief presentation of WikiFundi and the WikiChallenge
- October 2021 : Using offline tools to build open content and introduce to open knowledge movement
- January 2021 : featured on Education Newsletter 
The competition in 2021-2022
In 2021, the competition will take place in the same 9 countries as in previous years (Tunisia, Mali, Cameroon, Madagascar, Senegal, Guinea, Ivory Coast, DRC, Burkina Faso).
The WikiChallenge, a multi-partner system
The WikiChallenge African Schools was designed by Florence Devouard (user: anthere) and Isla Haddow-Flood to support the WikiAfrica movement and participation in Wikimedia projects in Africa. It is intended to facilitate the acquisition of digital skills by children attending school at the end of primary school. It also aims to give them a voice and thus ensure that African cultures and stories have an existence on the Internet. It is also an approach to work with children on notions of intellectual property, research of information and sources, collaborative work and writing in "encyclopedic" style. The hope of the project members is that many of the WikiChallenge participants will eventually train future competitors...and that they will join the Wikipedians community within a few years.
The WikiChallenge is organized by Wiki In Africa organisation in partnership and with the support of Orange Foundation .It is implemented with the help of several other organizations, such as Ynternet.org, Wikimedia Tunisia and many Wikipedians and Vikidians.
The competition is open only to establishments that are part of the Orange Digital Schools network. It may sound strange, but there is a pragmatic reason for this choice. Indeed, one of the peculiarities of the targeted schools is...that they are not connected (or poorly connected) to the Internet and poorly equipped with computer equipment. Their participation therefore has two prerequisites:
The first is the presence in schools of a digital device based on a mini Rasberry PI server making available not only the offline version of Vikidia (and Wikipedia), but also the wiki editing platform in offline mode. WikiFundi, published by the Wiki in Africa organisation and developed with the help of Kiwix. The digital device in question (mini server and tablets) is offered by the Orange Foundation, one of the WikiFundi distributors as part of its Digital Schools program. With this, children can learn to use a wiki platform to collaborate in small groups and write their articles, while having access to information via offline resources available on tablets.
The second prerequisite is the on-site presence, in the countries, of a digital mediator who, possibly with the help of Wikimedians, is responsible for mobilizing and informing the management and the faculty, then training, animating and finally collecting the content produced by students, to ensure their publication online. Obviously, it was also necessary to train and support the facilitators...which was done remotely thanks to Wikimedia France's WikiMooc in Spring 2017, but also during face-to-face sessions with Afek from Wikimedia Tunisia in 2017 and 2018. In 2018, face-to-face training was also facilitated in Senegal by Georges from Cameroon with the help of Nfana from Mali.
People and structures involved
- Wiki in Africa (owner)
- Orange Foundation (financial support, operational support, communication)
- Wikimedia Tunisie
- Wikimedians of Cameroon User Group
- Wikimedia Community User Group Mali
- Groupe d'utilisateurs de la communauté Wikimedia Guinée Conakry
- Vikidia Association
- Wikimedians for offline wikis usergroup
- Yorg (Fiscal sponsor in 2018-2019)
- Wikimedia CH (fiscal sponsor 2017-2018)
- Florence Devouard (organizer)
- Afek91 trainer Wikimedia Tunisia
- Serieminou (Cameroon trainer and facilitator)
- Bsghaier (Tunisia facilitator)
- Nfana (Mali facilitator)
- Joo (Madagascar facilitator)
- Tafsir Fall (Senegal facilitator)
- Aboubacarkhoraa (Guinea trainer and facilitator) with help from Arabiya Aïcha
- Macassar (vikidian and jury member)
- Magasin3 (vikidian)
- Patricia (Ivory Coast facilitator)
- Fawaz.tairou (Jury)
Personnes précédemment impliquées
- kmed79 (Guinea Facilitator)
- Geugeor (Cameroon trainer and facilitator)
- Als33120 (vikidian)
- Amadou Ibrahim (Niger facilitator)
The proposal, documentation and results of the project are published under the CC BY SA 4.0 license.