Who are we?
We are a loose coalition of Georgian and EU citizens and NGOs considering a closer collaboration. We came together in the context of Spot The Future, a foresight exercise rolled out by the United nations Development Program in Georgia, Armenia and Egypt.
What problem are we trying to solve?
In Georgia, many people illegally download commercial software, mostly because they do not realize there is open sourced software (OSS) out there which does exactly the same. This goes hand-in-hand with the low level of digital literacy in the country: OSS is perceived as difficult to install, configure and use.
Additionally, we agree that NGOs in Georgia could achieve much more if they collaborated more. Collaboration is difficult for several reasons, and not just in Georgia. We think a EU project (the first one for most parties involved) would be a good chance to start a collaboration on neutral territory.
What do we want to do?
We want to deploy a Viral Academy (VA) in Georgia. In this case, you can think of the VA as a school or set of courses where people would learn how to install, configure and use a whole OSS stack starting from a blank machine (Linux, Firefox, LibreOffice…). What makes the VA unique is that each student, to complete the course, must become a teacher, and pass on the knowledge to other students, which in their turn must then become teachers. The virality that results makes (time-intensive) hands-on teaching of OSS sustainable.
What do we hope to achieve with that?
- A cohort of VA students who know how to install and configure OSS on computers, and cultivate an attitude of sharing that knowledge.
- A shared experience of positive collaboration between at least two Georgian NGOs.
Who are our allies?
We are discussing this project with Edgeryders, a UK social enterprise with a community of over 2,000 mostly young, mostly EU-based hackers and changemakers; and with other like-minded NGOs in Armenia and Egypt. Some work is already being done on the VA’s methodology by a group of people based in the UK, Italy, Sweden and Denmark.
What is our next step?
We would like to gather information on opportunities for EU funding of a Viral Academy prototype in Georgia.