12,000 miles of "sneakernet"

"I could see so many faces with that eagerness to discover, learn, explore... that we have to do as much as we can to enable them to be exposed to the world"

Norberto Mujica, Senior Engineer, Cisco; RACHEL creator and World Possible Board Member visiting Lyra's programme in Iringa in July



Since Lyra first heard of RACHEL, we’ve been so impressed with this game-changing device and the brilliant team at World Possible, quietly transforming opportunities for children around the world. 

So we were thrilled when World Possible chose Lyra to host RACHEL creator, Norberto Mujica. Every year, Norberto spends a week visiting RACHEL deployments, providing training and advice to the dedicated teams dealing with the challenges on the ground.

RACHEL was designed for remote rural communities. Welcome to the world of ‘sneakernet technology' (where information is carried physically rather than beamed across the internet). It's a half-way house of connectivity. Each RACHEL is updated within internet range, then carried back to offline rural schools so students and teachers can benefit from online educational materials. 

We've had to be quite creative ourselves in our own sneakernet solutions. Before we could sync RACHEL data to a central server, our digital learning coaches had been taking pictures of student performance data on their phones and sending via whatsapp. Not bad for remote rural connectivity. But with Norberto's technical support we can now do much more. 

Norberto travelled no less than 12,000 miles to deliver the latest RACHEL software versions - that's an impressive sneakernet journey! Norberto has spent the week intensively training the Lyra team and also surveying solar capacity so we can upgrade the school power infrastructure that makes it all possible.  It's a bit like having Steve Jobs train your team on Apple products. Just awesome.

"Norberto is a great mentor, I learnt so much about the technical part. After training, tracking RACHEL usage is as simple as clicking a few buttons!" said Lyra's Digital Learning Manager, Jackline Seni. 

Norberto's support is a major boost for Lyra, and it's truly a global team effort.  We're new to digital learning but see huge potential.

Norberto was touched by what he saw. "I'm deeply impressed by the human factor overall. The efforts of so many teachers, staff and students to overcome the hard limitations they are living in (no power, no running water, walking 15 kilometers to attend school). I'm also impressed by the concept of dormitories for girls. I've never seen that before and what a difference it makes!" 

As well as keeping girls safe, dormitories give girls access to tablets at the weekend, to gain as much exposure as possible. 

"Jackline took this picture that in my mind represents the Lyra girls in one more year: confident, pushing forward, empowered. There is really a lot that can be done, and you are going to see a big bang very soon."