Wikipedia #2: Have you heard how the Wikipedia Zero project is spreading through Africa? Get involved…

In our previous blogpost about Wikipedia entitled Wikipedia #1 –The Sinenjonga students in South Africa make a plea to cell phone providers…and the results’ we reviewed the plea made by a group of Sinenjongo High School students from Joe Slovo Park, Milnerton, Cape Town, South Africa who made a video in 2012  appealing to South African cell phone operators to provide zero rating or free access to Wikipedia. Today we note how this project is spreading through Africa and we point out how teachers can get involved in the Wikipedia Education Program. 

Currently in South Africa…

At the moment, MTN is the only mobile operator in South Africa to give free access to Wikipedia. MTN customers with a internet capable phones can now browse Wikipedia free of data charges through Opera Mini browser only. Wikipedia Zero on MTN is not available through all browsers yet.

In other countries…

It seems that operators in other countries are being far more proactive – e.g. Orange is giving free access to Wikipedia in 9 African countries. Kenya is the only African county to have its 3 main cellular operators – Orange, Airtel Kenya and most recently Safaricom – offering Wikipedia free of data charges to their customers. On the past few weeks, Airtel launched Wikipedia Zero in Nigeria and MTN launched Wikipedia Zero in Rwanda.  

Misconceptions around Wikipedia

  • There is the question of disinformation around Wikipedia with people thinking it is like Face Book or Google or any multimillion dollar corporate when it is in fact a not for profit that employs less than 200 people and survives on donations.   
  • Some teachers ban use of Wikipedia in their classrooms because they say it has factually incorrect information – whereas Wikipedia can be sued for academic research. Wikimedia have made links with UCT to extend its use among students  – in some HEIs students are encouraged to write a wiki article by making it constitute their assignment.

What is the Wikipedia Education program?

The idea behind the Wikipedia Education Program is simple: Educators and students around the world contribute to Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects for class assignments. Visit the great Wikimedia website:


A map showing participation in the Wikipedia Education Program?

On the actual map on the website one can hover over the map and click on a country for more information. Countries with educational programs and projects are coloured blue.


How is Sinonjenja High School currently getting involved?

When hovering over South Africa the following information comes up. A high school class at Sinenjongo High School in South Africa has been writing Wikipedia Articles in isiXhosa. Their teacher (Piet Striecher) has been helping them with this effort for one hour a week. It’s the only time that they have internet access.


The image above shows winners of IsiXhosa Wikipedia competition with their book prizes donated by Piet Striecher (a volunteer teacher at the school). 1st Sinako Mtakati, 2nd Aviwe Awu, 3rd Sinombongo Macekiswayo. August 2013

How can you get involved?

1. Visit the website
2. Join the education mailing list and connect with their community of Wikimedians and educators.
3. Subscribe to the education newsletter and see how they are transforming education together.
4. Get involved


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