Kinkajou Microfilm Project

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The Kinkajou Microfilm Projector is a tool created by Design That Matters, a group of MIT students who partner with social entrepeneurs to create products that complement basic needs in developing nations. The nonprofit organization saw that literacy rates in countries such as Bali and Bangladesh were alarmingly low with 75% of the adult population unable to read or write. Of the adults who were able to receive an education and attend classes, it was most convenient for them to take night classes while balancing their families and what jobs they could maintain with the limited abilities they had.

These microfilm projectors, with an MSRP worth $15, eliminate the need for expensive and heavy textbooks as well as the dilemma adults face working by candle light during their evening classes. Each microfilm fitted for the projector can store up to 10,000 reference images on one cassette allowing for students to learn through countless images, written words, and phrases. Its lightweight system is able to charge via solar panel, making it hassle free for students during the day when they are occupied with their families and jobs. Between the light technology, size capacity, and lightweight size, the Kinkajou Microfilm projector is one of the top innovating and accommodating literary tools for uneducated adults.

Design That Matters’ effort to promote social change is a bright and positive one, targeting the adults in hopes of setting an example for the rest of the population. Education is a key tool in improving the livelihood and communities of developing nations, however it can also be one of the most difficult efforts to maintain- short term and long term results are not equally successful. This effort identifies the importance of education in a community and that any improvements in the developing country start with education itself, as well as recognizes that it must be done the right way. Providing people with textbooks and pencils is a great effort, but not good enough, as this projector contradicts.

The projector complements the lifestyles of those it is meant for- those who work tirelessly during the day to provide for their families, yet do not have the resources to attend school at night. By recognizing this and finding a way around it, it gives the people hope and tells them that they still have the opportunity to learn to read and write. This alone promotes a positive outlook that can in the long term change the quality of lives.

In addition, because these projectors and the learning communities in which they are used in is intended for adults, it sets a precedent for the younger generations in the developing communities. Childhood education is vital and is something I’ve both believed in and worked for in the past, however adult education is a vital need as well. We can give a child a pencil and encourage them to read and write, however if we supply their parents and adult figures with the education, tools and power to do so on their own, it will empower the communities to do it themselves.

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