Education Pi

Supporting computer education in Afghanistan and beyond with the Raspberry Pi

Education Pi is a program that grew out of my Eagle Project, where I built a set of computers with Trust in Education to support computer education in Afghanistan. Our goal is to use the Raspberry Pi and other technology to bring computer education to children in developing nations.

Education Pi began as my Eagle Scout Service project in 2013. The Eagle Service project is an intensive undertaking that must benefit a nonprofit organization other than Scouting.

When I first started planning my project, I knew I wanted to do something innovative. I decided to investigate using new, low cost Raspberry Pi boards to build computers for schools in need. They seemed like the perfect platform: low-cost computers about the size of a credit card, that cost only $35 apiece. This project would take advantage of the experience I had with technology, while creating a lasting educational resource for students. 

I partnered with Trust in Education, a local charity organization in my town, which focuses on providing aid and education to communities in Afghanistan. In Afghan schools, all students are required to learn basic computer skills, but few classrooms have enough computers, if any, for students to use. And as you may know, women in Afghanistan are often not treated equally and their opportunities for education are extremely limited. Many women risk their lives every day to go to school.

I knew that my idea to build computers could make a huge impact in Afghan schools.We initially planned to build a set of 10 computers to outfit one classroom.

 An full Education Pi system: only $200.

An full Education Pi system: only $200.

I sourced inexpensive computer parts to complete the system, including a power supply, power adapter, LCD monitor, keyboard, and mouse for a total cost of less than $200 per computer. I then went to work on designing a collection of free software, including the Linux operating system, that would provide the basic educational tools needed.

For fundraising, I turned to IndieGoGo, a crowdfunding website that allowed me to collect donations over the internet. I designed my project pitch, and asked for just over $2000, to cover the cost of 10 computer systems, and started the 30-day fundraising campaign.

Within a day, I had reached the funding goal. Donations began pouring in from our local community and people all over the world. The Raspberry Pi foundation generously agreed to match all donations up to $10,000. By the end of the campaign, we raised over $20,000 in funding for the project.

In order to build the first set of computers, we held a build day at my house. Our volunteers had no issues assembling the computers, and we soon had them tested and packed for shipment.

 Image copyright Trust in Education

Image copyright Trust in Education

The founder of Trust in Education, Budd Mackenzie, personally delivered the first set of 10 computers to a school they sponsor in Afghanistan. Students were immediately able to use the educational software on the computers he set up, and the test run was a success.

Ultimately, after more build and packing parties and volunteer work, we've delivered another 58 systems. I'm currently working on a distribution or configuration of our educational software and some other tools to help others do the same work in both Afghanistan and other countries.