article / 11 August 2023

Club Arribada: Empowering Future Leaders with Conservation Tech Opportunities

In this Conservation Tech Showcase case study from 2022 Conservation Tech Award winner Club Arribada, you’ll learn how they’re empowering young people through digital literacy education and access to conservation technologies. 

This case study in our Conservation Tech Showcase highlights Club Arribada, a nonprofit operating primarily in São Tomé and Príncipe in West Africa, where their free conservation technology syllabus and hands-on training programs are helping to educate future conservation leaders, promoting gender equality, and bridging the digital divide in our field. 

Club Arribada was named one of the winners of the 2022 Conservation Tech Awards from EarthRanger.

About Club Arribada

Club Arribada is a nonprofit organization based in the UK, dedicated to promoting digital literacy and education among young children in Príncipe Island, West Africa. Established in 2017, the program provides STEM activities, computer literacy classes, and hands-on access to conservation technologies to children aged 10 to 12 through its free conservation technology syllabus, and is delivered by volunteer teachers and educators.

Photo by Alasdair Davies

With the current syllabus that includes over 40 classes in GPS tracking, camera trapping, passive acoustic monitoring, laser scanning, 3D printing, and fiber optics, Club Arribada aims to equip young people with the digital skills they need to become future conservation practitioners. The program, now in its 6th year, continues to inspire with its mission to make conservation technologies open, affordable, and accessible to all.

What progress has Club Arribada made in promoting digital literacy?

Club Arribada has made significant progress in promoting digital literacy, which has helped bridge the gap in scientific research and development between the Global North and the Global South. The club has played a vital role in addressing the "parachute science" disparity, which occurs when scientists and NGOs from the Global North do not invest in local governance, capacity, expertise, and social structures when conducting research or deploying programs in the Global South. 

The club has managed to provide basic computing education to children who have never used a computer before, with over 55% of participants being young girls. This approach has ensured that local communities can take ownership of conservation programs and participate in field research where conservation technologies are utilized. 

Photo by Alasdair Davies

Additionally, it has provided young minds with critical skills such as typing, word processing, and e-mail, which are necessary in today's society. The Club Arribada's unique approach to empowering the community through digital literacy serves as a valuable model that can inspire other organizations to invest in similar initiatives.

The Club's program measures its success by the number of students completing a full program of educational activities across the full syllabus. With four cycles of the program completed, over 240 students have completed the full program, and over 900 classes have been delivered. The program aims to provide skills for children as young as nine years old, who can eventually apply for local conservation jobs and opportunities, with GPS tracking, camera trapping, and spreadsheet design skills taught through hands-on access to each technology. The club monitors individual progress and interest through a stamp card system and hopes to track further impact as students progress from primary to secondary school.

Photo by Alasdair Davies

The Club also provides a unique opportunity for young girls in São Tomé and Príncipe to expand their future job opportunities and gain access to new job markets. Club Arribada's classes have a majority of girls aged 9-12, and job opportunities for women in Príncipe are limited, with most families relying on artisanal fisheries. The region is one of Africa's poorest, with over two-thirds of the population living in poverty. The Club provides one laptop per two children, allowing for hands-on access to technology and the development of computer literacy skills that are essential in today's society. Limited access to technology in secondary schools is still a significant concern in Príncipe, where there is only one computer available for every 3-5 students, making it challenging to receive support during this critical stage of development. Club Arribada's program for young girls in Príncipe empowers them and offers access to conservation careers locally and internationally, bridging the digital divide and promoting gender equality.

How is Club Arribada expanding its impact?

Club Arribada is not only making a positive impact on the lives of young girls in Príncipe but also creating a ripple effect in other regions. The Club's open-source syllabus and educational materials are available for adoption by other technology clubs, schools, or educational facilities, and its activities are shared via their YouTube channel. This has led to requests from other regions to duplicate the program.

Photo by Alasdair Davies

In 2021, Fundação Maio Biodiversidade (FMB) visited Principe Island through a partnership with Fundacion Príncipe and observed the positive impact of Club Arribada's program on girls. Afterward, they requested to replicate the program in Cape Verde, and with FMB's partnership, the Club intends to establish a second physical club on Maio Island. The current voluntary teachers will train new instructors who will continue to spread the program. Club Arribada's open-source materials have allowed other regions to adopt the program and duplicate its success, proving its scalability and potential for impact in other parts of the world.

However, establishing new clubs might be challenging, and requires sourcing and training volunteer teachers, conducting risk assessments, and providing ongoing support to create and maintain the duplicated program. Club Arribada relies on funding from the Arribada Initiative to cover operating costs and provide stipends for volunteers. However, there are insufficient funds to expand the program to Maio Island in Cape Verde and replicate the same level of support. Therefore, further funding would be needed to expand the program successfully.

Photo by Alasdair Davies

How can I engage with Club Arribada?

Join Club Arribada's mission to make conservation technologies accessible to all and support their efforts to promote digital literacy among young children on Príncipe Island. Contact Francisco Gouveia at [email protected] to get involved and make a positive impact today!

Explore the 2023 Conservation Tech Showcase

Our new Conservation Tech Showcase is a series exploring successes and bold ideas in the world of conservation technology, shared through case studies about exciting projects from outstanding organizations around the world.

Learn more about the series and its case studies here on WILDLABS.

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