A multi-national contest that creates a fun way for students to learn how knowledge is built by contributing to Vikidia, the little sister of Wikipedia dedicated to children aged 8-15 years.

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Link to the contest home page : WikiChallenge_Ecoles_d’Afrique

WikiChallenge Ecoles d’Afrique is a multi-national contest that creates a fun, engaging way for 9-12 students to learn about how knowledge is built by contributing to Vikidia. Vikidia is the little sister of Wikipedia, an encyclopedia dedicated to children aged 8-15 years.

The contest challenges schools across the African continent to compete by writing encyclopedic-like articles about something of importance in their area: a city, town, village, or suburb, a local landmark, or a notable individual.

The competition is a fun introduction to writing Vikidia articles, content that can be transferred, and will add information about Africa to Wikipedia, the global online encyclopedia. It also provides young Africans with an opportunity to learn more about their communities, cultures, role models, and environments.

WikiChallenge African Schools has taken place annually since 2017. It works in concert with the Digital Schools programme of the Orange Foundation and has been implemented in 10 French-speaking African countries. It has operated over the following time periods – 2017-2018, 2018-2019, 2019-2021, 2021-2022, and now in 2022-2023!

What is really special about the project? An educational project to bridge the gap between the online world and the offline world…

All of the participating schools are in French-speaking Africa and most of them are… offline! To be fair, some even have issues with electricity access. Many of those kids have never heard of Wikipedia, if only because they have never been online [1].

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 helps the children 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 provides training for the trainers’ activities, hence bringing new skills to the teachers as well.
Finally, the project resulted in the production and publication of information on the Internet, under a free license, for use by the greater public. This participates to the visibility of Africa on the Internet and brings a feeling of pride to under-represented and poorly-served communities.

The program is applied equally to both male and female students.

The project contributes to the following knowledge platforms:

  • Vikidia: the children’s encyclopedia. Whilst not a Wikimedia project, this is an active project in our ecosystem.
  • Wikimedia Commons: The kids contribute pictures (and possibly videos) to Wikimedia Commons
  • WikiFundi platform: the schools have access to an offline operational platform including the use of Raspberry Pis, Wikifundi, and Kiwix resources.

Benefits for the children

The contest encouraged children to work together to create an article about their area. This could be an article about their village, suburb, notable person, or a local historic or geographic feature. The contest was designed to provide students with hands-on experience in collating information and working collaboratively to contribute knowledge to one of the world’s most powerful information platforms. The contest was meant to specifically:

  • Train students in how to write an encyclopedic article on a wiki;
  • Give students key online skills that include, but are not limited to, navigating an editing environment that mimics Wikipedia’s online version, and researching and citing correct sources;
  • Provide media skills with regards to constructing articles, using categories, and taking photographs or creating other media to fully illustrate the article they submit to the contest
  • Contribute articles about Africa by Africans to Vikidia and Wikipedia, thus broadening the coverage of Africa.

Lastly, through the prizes offered to the winning schools, the children benefit from a safer and more efficient learning environment.

Impact of each contest

  • 2018: 4 countries involved 33 schools, 40 articles written. 6 winning schools.
  • 2019: 7 countries involving 65 schools, 99 articles written and 600+ photos submitted. 11 winning schools.
  • 2020-21: 9 countries involving 100 schools, 138 articles written and 800+ photos submitted. 20 winning schools.
  • 2021-22: 9 countries involving 69 schools, 80 articles and 442 photos/drawings submitted by articles. 12 winning schools.

Contributing countries

  • Tunisia, Mali, Guinea, Madagascar, Niger, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, RdC, Burkina Faso, Sénégal

Project Partners

Quick links:

Gallery of photos from previous WikiChallenge African Schools

The Challenge was designed and created to support the development of the next generation of Wikimedia volunteers across Africa. It has been developed by Florence Devouard and Isla Haddow-Flood. The proof of concept has been conducted in collaboration with Wikimedia CH and funded by the Orange Foundation. All its outcomes are published under a free licence.