Education/News/September 2018/Wikipedia offline in rural areas of Colombia

Wikipedia offline in rural schools of Colombia


Author: Karisma / Juan Sebastian Quintero (Translator)

Summary: The project Wikipedia en Fresno seeks to promote the use of Wikipedia in the colombian municipality of Fresno, in the south-western department of Tolima, where was installed Wikipedia offline with Kiwix, in the Biblioteca Virtual, part of the public library Luis Carlos Galán Sarmiento. Several other installations were made in institutions of the Real Campestre school in the rural areas of the municipality. The project was developed by Karisma Foundation thanks to a grant from Wikimedia Foundation, and implemented on field by the Fresno Posible Foundation with the help of Wikimedians of Colombia User Group.

In Colombia, most of the schools in urban areas have access to WiFi or broadband internet, but in rural areas, only 53 out of 100 schools can enjoy this privilege, according to the results of the Synthetic Index of Educational Quality (Índice Sintético de Calidad Educativa, ISCE), published on May 16, 2018 (Published in Colombia 2020).

In the particular case of Real Campestre, the reality is even more deficient, the Mireya headquarters has access to Internet only for administrative works. Ironically, another three venues of the institution belong to the project Vive Digital, the government's Internet access program, but to access requires a pin that has a cost and the school has no funds to pay for access. So, despite being a place dedicated specifically to bring internet access to local population, the costs cannot be covered for the school. Other 11 venues have no access at all.

Kiwix was installed as a key part of the Local Network Kimera in different rural locations of the Real Campestre institution and the Fresno Public Library in the urban area. As part of the project, the use of Wikipedia was promoted and monitored. Kimera is a wireless network developed by the Karisma Foundation to cover local connectivity needs. The network is hosted on a desktop computer or an institution with Windows OS (which is the one that is widespread in the educational sector in Colombia), but from there on all the solutions are free software, which does not require payment of licenses. The network can be accessed from cellphones, tablets, computers and any other device that has the option of wireless access. Computers can also be connected directly to the network (wired).

The network isn't designed as a high-tech solution, but as one that is easy to implement by interested people, using primarily already available resources. Its installation and operation is supported by the existing human and technical resources in the community, taking into account that only basic knowledge of networks is required. The network is installed by copying folders with the programs and the contents to which they want to access to the hard disk of the computer that will work as server. It does not require the installation of individual programs.

To work, the network operates with free software Xampp, the Apache web server and Mysql database. Multiple versions can be configured. The educational version installs tools to support the educational process and the dissemination of information.

Advantages of Kimera as an option to install Wikipedia offline


The elements that could be highlighted of the relevance of the Local Network are:

  • It uses resources already available. It does not require additional hardware to the existing one in the institutions
  • The server is installed on any CPU or laptop already available in the institution or a teacher's.
  • You can use any existing network or create it from a router if it is available or use a cellphone to create the network.
  • It can be accessed from a computer or any device with Wi-Fi access or cable connection. It is worth noting that in some locations access is almost exclusively by students' cellphones.
  • It does not require technical experience, it is installed on the Windows operating system, which is mostly used in the education sector. To execute it, just copy-paste a folder to disk C, open this folder, click on a file and then follow the on-screen instructions.
  • As it is based on free software it does not require any subsequent license payment.
  • Local and school contents are loaded into the local network. In addition, teachers are given the opportunity to upload content of interest in the network, contributing to improve the current situation in places like Fresno, where there is a great lack of school material.

The local network seeks to solve problems with a scalable methodology designed by the community. It is not a tool to access the Internet. However, it is an internal network that can be used for community and learning processes, and eventually, to enhance any Internet connection in a specific community.


  • Approximately 500 students attend the 6 of the 14 locations where the offline version of Wikipedia is installed. They all have access to Wikipedia. In one of the sites, Wikipedia was used by the community, keeping the Local Network operating additional hours to allow its use. Although, the access to Wikipedia from the urban area is not significant, it can be affirmed that what has been achieved in the rural area is of great impact for the project.
  • Drafts of new versions of the topics about Fresno to be included in Wikipedia were prepared from the local information available in the Virtual Library. People with knowledge at local level of each topic were asked to review these proposals, obtaining information to review all the topics included in the index.
  • In the workshop planned to edit Wikipedia and upload the new versions to Internet, the participation of 68 people was achieved, the vast majority from the rural area. Even with connectivity problems, the workshop was oriented to explain the characteristics of Wikipedia, its use and the general conditions for its edition.
  • The initial goals of teacher participation were met. Around 8 professors are using Wikipedia as support material in the teaching process, 6 of them in the rural centers. The workshop was attended by 2 teachers from the rural centers and 2 from the urban area. Additionally, 2 professors from the urban area are coordinating the process to install in their institutions the Kimera and Wikipedia offline.

Students' opinions

  • ... Wikipedia seems to be, in my opinion, a solution to our problems in our rural area. Now we can do our homework, research, etc. Thank you for giving us this great and important tool.
  • ... it opened the door for new knowledge. It also took us to fantastic places.
  • ... it's free, there are people who do not have money to pay and because low-income children do not have the financial means, so they can do it for free.
  • ... it's very helpful, it's good for our life.
  • ... All teachers should use it.
  • ... [it's good] that a person from another country has an opportunity to learn about us and we to learn about them.
  • ... The platform should always be on and all teachers should use it.
  • ... everything changed since the project arrived at the school, we can now research more about the topics that teachers give us as homework.

The original blog post was published on Karisma's blog under a CC-By-Sa 2.5 Co License.

Tags:Colombia, Kiwix, Offline, Rural