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Using comics to spread the free software message

By   |  April 28, 2005

SchoolNet Namibia is taking a bold new step to entice teachers and students into the world of free and open source software(FOSS). Together with Direq International, Strika Entertainment and The Namibian Youth Paper to produce and distribute Hai Ti! — which means \”listen up!\” in the Oshiwambo language group. The comic strip is designed to spread teh word about the ways that computers, FOSS and the internet can transform learners\’ and teachers\’ lives.

It\’s a new and highly innovative approach to a universal problem.

\”Our numerous letters, manuals and trainers have not been very effective in bringing teachers into the computer lab,\” says SchoolNet Namibia executive director Joris Komen. \”So we decided to build a character-based drama around the SchoolNet team and teachers and learners at a remote rural school in Namibia.

\”There has also been a lot of controversy about the compatibility of free and open source office applications and programs with similar — and usually very expensive — proprietary software more commonly used in the private sector. We expect Hai Ti! to finally put such controversy to rest. The skills acquired by teachers and learners to cut, copy and paste, and use office tools such as word processors and spreadsheets, as well as the Internet, must be completely platform neutral, without affecting their career and learning opportunities.\”

To demystify the computers that have proved popular with many learners but not so much with teachers, SchoolNet collaborated with Strika and Direq to conceptualise, illustrate and produce a full-colour comic. Designed to address educators\’ fears, SchoolNet staff drew from their own experiences to craft the narrative.

The first 20-page comic interweaves the stories of a learner who uses the internet to prepare for a debate; of a football fan who learns that the Internet can be a better source for sports than the \”cuca shop\” (Shebeen); and of a young teacher learning computer basics with the help of SchoolNet trainers. The comic, liberally sprinkled with definitions and basic tips, doubles as an easy reference manual afterwards.

The first edition of the comic was distributed together with The Namibian newspaper earlier this week as well as 20 000 copies being given directly to schools across the country.

Each edition is also be published online at Schoolnet\’s website The insert will be distributed in The Namibian Youth Paper on a regular basis for the next few years.

Hai Ti! is also unique in being the first publication of its kind to be published under international Creative Commons rules in Namibia. The Creative Commons copyright ensure that any person who receives a copy or derived version of this publication work can use, modify and also redistribute the work and derived versions of the work, with appropriate acknowledgment to the original authors and artists.


One Response to “Using comics to spread the free software message”

  1. Ubuntu Manga comic now in English | Got Better Ideaz?
    April 22nd, 2009 @ 3:32 am

    […] first time comics have been used to promote open source software. Back in 2005 Schoolnet Namibia¬†created its own series of comics, called Hai Ti!, to encourage students to use open source […]

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