In 2017, we set a goal of supporting the organizing of two “Introduction to Open Source” workshops in parts of the world with less participation in open source: Latin and South America, Africa, Oceania, and Asia*. This was accomplished with events in Mombasa, Kenya and Kanpur, India.
The Introduction to Open Source workshop in Mombasa was held on September 23, 2017 at Swahili Pot Hub. Though only 10 people signed up online, 38 people attended.
Daniel Joakim, lead organizer of the event, commented that this kind of workshop was a good fit for the Mombasa community because:
Currently, in Kenya and more specifically in Mombasa, the rate of unemployment is extremely high. Thousands of high school graduates normally don’t make it to the university or any higher learning institutions every passing year, so where do they end up? It is so sad, the majority get wasted on the beach and in the local clubs, this is a negative growth to the community.
Introducing open source software to these generations might be the solution to unemployment. The main agenda in mind for that event was to open up minds of the youths to seek other alternatives to tools that are readily available, and build amazing technology on top of these.
The WordPress Mombasa group was founded a little over a year ago, and currently has 168 members. Daniel said that organizing the workshop helped spread the word about the monthly user group, as well as educating the community about open source. Regarding the response of attendees to the information about open source shared in the workshop, Daniel said, “some of the attendees liked the fact of ease of use without the technical background of coding. Others found it to be handy in terms (of) speed in web design compared to other conventional methods we know.”
The WordPress Kanpur user group held its Introduction to Open Source workshop on November 11, 2017 at Allenhouse Institute of Technology. Online sign-ups were counted at 44, but event attendance was estimated at 150-200. Hardeep Asrani, one of the organizers of the event along with Himanshu Awasthi, said that the Kanpur community was interested in organizing this workshop because:
We love open-source and wanted to spread more knowledge about what open-source is, and why it’s important. We’ve been trying to take our workshops to colleges and schools to bring more awareness, and the [Introduction to] Open Source workshop allowed us to do this exactly.
In addition to presenting the material outlined in the lesson plans on WordPress.org, the Kanpur organizers included an open mic session. Hardeep commented that this allowed attendees to talk about anything they had coded and published open-source. “There was a guy who coded a pretty cool application using C++, and he was unsure how to release it, and open-source wasn’t his first choice, but we sat with him and explained him how it can benefit him and the community, and he decided to release it under GPL once it’s finished,” said Hardeep.
When asked about what part of the workshop particularly interested attendees, Hardeep responded, “When we talked about the freedom that open-source and Free Software gives you, a lot of people were interested, as well as when it came to privacy.”
Looking forward to more workshops in 2018
Based on the success of these two workshops, we hope to expand this program in the future, with a plan to sponsor at least four events in 2018. If you’re interested in organizing an event of this kind in your community, please keep an eye out for the next call for organizers, which will be posted early next year!
If you’re interested in helping the WordPress Foundation support open source education all over the world, please donate today!
*According to a recent study, the majority of Github participation in OSS projects is centered in North America and Western and Northern Europe.