25 August 2015

Sometimes there are innovations that completely revolutionise the way we do things. Whilst it is hard to imagine something new that could have the same impact as the wheel or the internet, there are still products that creep into our everyday lives and change the way we work.

Tyson demos the Raspberry Pi suite out in Malawi.

Tyson demos the Raspberry Pi suite out in Malawi.

One such thing is the Raspberry Pi. Undoubtedly it caused a stir on the tech scene when it was first launched in 2012, but it never really broached the wider world. The microcomputer might be tiny and brings open source software to the fore, but its impact is huge; costing less than £20 it puts real ‘tinkerable’ tech into the hands of children without fear of them breaking it.

But this is where the real impact of this tiny piece of tech is. Education in the wider world. Children can experiment, adventure and innovate without worrying about breaking hardware worth hundreds of pounds. I remember how precious every piece of equipment was at school – even back in my day, you had to be exceptionally careful with musical instruments, science equipment and the like. And that’s well before the days of iPads, Pis and super-connected PCs.

The Raspberry Pi is able to feed that hunger for tech knowledge without costing the earth. We have been working a lot with the Raspberry Pi since its launch in 2012, we even have our own branded versions that we give as gifts. One of the greatest things we’ve been able to do is to play a part in bringing technology to areas that need it most.

Last year, we sponsored a trip out to Lehae, one of the poorest districts of Johannesburg. Here we created a Raspberry Pi-powered internet hub at the district’s Khaya Centre. The centre helps the community to better the lives of those affected by HIV/AIDS through feeding programmes, counselling and pre- and after-school programmes. The centre equips this community and empowers young people to harness the benefits of technology and it’s a self-sustained revenue stream.

The Project Pi team at the start of the build.

The Project Pi team at the start of the build.

This year, we launch a similar project closer to home at Broadoak School in Partington. This centre brings internet access and computer skills training to the community, as well as a brand new tech suite for the pupils of the school. Working with the Dean Trust and local schools, we’re able to see the tangible impact that technology like this is having on children – the potential tech superstars of the future!

The third project we’re involved in is happening right now. One of UKFast’s technical wizards and all-round good guy, Tyson, has flown out to Malawi with his wife and a team of exceptional people to create a technical suite at The Kasupe Project, Chigonere Village. This will see five Raspberry Pi computers for the primary school that local charity, Kasupe, has opened in a rural village near Monkey Bay, Malawi; bringing internet access, tech education and providing a revenue stream to make a lasting impact. It’s incredible.

I am so proud to read Tyson’s updates and see the photos filling social media. It is amazing what one little piece of technology can achieve and how, when we apply it correctly, it can change lives.

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