Bringing technology to children of Karachi’s Orangi

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KARACHI: To acquaint schoolchildren of Orangi with a sound technological base, a new media art workshop titled ‘Technology for Life’ was organised by the Karachi Biennale 2017, in collaboration with the Orangi Pilot Project and Goethe Institut, Karachi. Spanning over three days, the workshop ended on Friday with an exhibition of all that the students had learnt and applied.

Eight graders from different private schools in Orangi were part of the workshop which was conducted by Stephen Kovats and Wolfgang Spahn who have worked in Sudan and Indonesia on similar projects. They shared their experiences of working with technology in various capacities and how teaching children about energy could help them apply the knowledge acquired to their personal benefit.

The first day of the workshop saw the children use rotten fruit and vegetables to generate electricity. This was a fascinating revelation for the children and several admitted to replicating the process when they went back home.

While perusing the exhibition one similar thread was recurrent — technology had been used in creative and interactive ways. While some had built batteries to charge LED lights, others had made Arduino boards from scratch. The children were also taught how to code and programme, as well as use open source technology for various purposes.

Kovats, a media activist and researcher from Germany, praised all the children who successfully worked together in groups and despite failing several times, never gave up. He also praised the team who worked on the project.

Spahn, who is a visual artist living in Berlin, shared how essential technology is the world over and that the workshop was an attempt to bridge the gap and make technology more accessible to children in Pakistan. According to him, the course taught in three days of the workshop was vast enough for the children to use for diverse purposes such as lighting bulbs or even charging cell phones.

Another activity planned for the workshop was the construction of a photo voice. The children were told to take photos of one thing they found in their neighbourhood which was beneficial for them, and one thing which they considered to be harmful. A single wall had been dedicated exclusively to display the images the children had taken on their own.

The ceremony then ended with certificates being distributed to all the students who participated in the workshop.

‘Technology for Life’ is part of Karachi Biennale’s public outreach programme that aims to introduce a larger part of the city to showcasing arts in a bid to strengthen the regional and national art produce.

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