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Smart Village Education Committee Report

Robin Podmore, Co-founder of IEEE Smart Village, Chair – Fundraising Committee
Olga Anderson – Chair – Education Committee
Alexander Anderson – Secretary – Education Committee

WISE Education

Worldwide Incremental Sustainable Entrepreneurial (WISE) education is an interdisciplinary learning and project management approach being developed by the Smart Village Education working groups for entrepreneurial, vocational, and empowerment training programs. The materials, strategies, and objectives are designed to be shared among all Smart Village partners to promote economically, socially, and ecologically sustainable communities.

Worldwide, IEEE Smart Village aspires to build an entrepreneurial base capable of bringing social change, promoting sustainable growth, and addressing technological needs of communities.

Incremental education solutions to individual sub-problems are delivered as individual phases with evaluation, lessons-learned, and community feedback stages between increments. The incremental approach also enables minor shifts in project scope depending on the success of particular entrepreneurial and vocational training programs.

Sustainability – economically, socially, and ecologically – is emphasized in all aspects of ISV projects, aiming to create jobs for the next generation, as well as retain all aspiring, educated, and energetic entrepreneurs in a community. Only sustainable jobs that promise continuous growth and do not rely on exploitation of limited natural resources are chosen for WISE entrepreneurial training.

Entrepreneurship is the heart and essence of the ISV business model, and so it is paramount that the project is not viewed as a charity, but as an empowerment and business opportunity that should continue to grow with a minimum project lifecycle of twenty years. The educational funding is viewed as a seed funding/kickstarter/business incubator that covers the first year of operations and works as an incentive to seek further funding and cost sharing opportunities to expand educational programs throughout the region.

Project Skills & Systems Engineering Working Group

The IEEE SV project skills working group is developing a real-time project management smartphone app, delivering a standardized method for projecting and tracking the socio-economic benefits of all ISV installations in an activity-based costing framework. The system will provide Smart Village the opportunity to reach new countries with low entry costs and provide communities and micro-businesses access to the best IT technology.

Additionally, the app will assist ISV entrepreneurs and applicants with

  • Needs analysis, customer identification, and revenue projections
  • Cash flow creation, financial sustainability, and earned value management
  • Monitoring of UN Sustainable Development Goal advancement and promotion of entrepreneurship within community

The app is being developed in C# and will deployed soon to the Azure cloud with Xamarin. The cloud based solution enables users to access their project data from any platform (Windows, Android, or iOS). Offline sync capabilities allow entrepreneurs and engineers to work in the field without internet connectivity and later upload their collected data when WiFi or cellular service is available.

The platform will enable entrepreneurs to use the latest performance management techniques with activity based costing, building upon traditional cash flow accounting by breaking down sources of costs and revenue by the functional areas and activities. Budgeting and cash flow monitoring are performed in a bottom-up manner, and will be standardized in each of the Smart Village community business focus areas, including electrification, communications, education, sustainable agriculture, and WASH services. As a result, the metrics produced are less sensitive to shifts in organizational structure between partners / countries; demonstrate which activities of each business are lacking resources; and which operations seem to be emerging as core competencies.

Additionally this method of tracking cash flow and SDG advancement within all communities in real time will form the foundation for performance management metrics standardized across all ISV projects and partnerships. Revenue and costs sorted by project activities enable simple identification of process costs, product costs, and profit margins of each business. This information can be used to gauge the risk and projected financial sustainability of each project, as well as ways in which operational efficiency and strategic effectiveness may be increased.

The standardized project monitoring app is the first of a series of project management resources and training tools that will assist ISV entrepreneurs in scoping, planning, executing, monitoring, and streamlining their programs, while simultaneously tracking their communities’ progress in advancing sustainable development goals.

Women’s Empowerment & Gender Equality Working Group

Investing in women’s education, training, and leadership has been proven to bring about social change and motivate entire communities to strive for a better, stronger future. The Women’s Empowerment working group is currently developing resources and training in key empowerment areas including:

  • Gender equality
  • Adult literacy
  • Domestic violence prevention
  • Parenting skills
  • Establishing community support
  • Self-esteem; positive personal image
  • HIV/AIDS awareness; reproductive health
  • Human rights and peace

The culturally sensitive, participatory program will also include training for young women in leadership and entrepreneurship. Educational efforts must come from within the community, so the program features a women-teaching-women dynamic employing empathetic and confidential interaction. The program is being piloted in the Madan Community of Papua New Guinea, where working group members Aarlie Hull and Maureen Yalde have been leading a women’s empowerment program for nearly a decade. Currently, their program has been providing adult literacy classes, family health & planning services, and domestic violence prevention counseling to dozens of women in the Madan Community.

IEEE Smart Village is electrifying three new Rotary Women’s Community Centers in Madan village, Kuri Village, and the Madan Medical Clinic to support empowerment programs with access to electricity, computers, high speed wireless intranet, and digital learning tablets streaming content from a central e-Granary server containing the ISV women’s empowerment toolboxes and archives of millions of other educational resources.

Local PNG women attend an adult literacy program in Madan. IEEE Smart Village is providing electricity and digital education resources for three Rotary community centers that will transform the learning opportunities for these women and hundreds more in Papua New Guinea.

Women in Madan participate in an empowerment group and show off their handmade “bilem” handbags.