Press releases/SOSChildrenUK2007

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SOS Children UK and the Wikimedia Foundation announce the launch of the Wikipedia Selection for Schools

29th May 2007: SOS Children UK, in coordination with the Wikimedia Foundation, have launched the Wikipedia Selection for Schools. The Selection DVD has the content of a 15 volume encyclopaedia - with 24,000 pictures, 14 million words and articles on 4,625 topics. It includes the best of Wikipedia, and many thousands of pages of extra material specifically selected to be of interest to children aged 8-17 who follow the UK National Curriculum and similar curricula elsewhere in the world.

Florence Devouard, chair of the Wikimedia Foundation, said: "The Wikimedia Foundation aims to encourage the development and distribution of reference content to the public free of charge: this project is an excellent example of free resources being offered to a particular audience which we warmly encourage, and are proud to support."

Dr Andrew Cates, CEO of SOS Children (and himself a Wikipedia administrator) said: "Wikipedia offers a fantastic learning resource. We are delighted to have been able to play a part in increasing the number of children who will be able to benefit from it. We are indebted to the volunteers in our offices and on Wikipedia who helped check articles and to the Wikipedia community for their help with this project."

The Selection can easily be run on school intranets or in remote locations in the developing world where Internet access is a problem. A pilot version of this release has already been distributed to schools in South Africa by the Shuttleworth Foundation. It is intended to extend and update the Selection periodically.

SOS Children is best known as the world's largest orphan charity (UK Charity No. 1069204) but is also a very large educational charity running 192 schools with 91,000 pupils in the developing world. See www.soschildren.org

The Wikimedia Foundation Inc. is a US non-profit charitable organisation dedicated to encouraging the growth, development and distribution of free, multilingual content, and to providing the full content of these wiki-based projects to the public free of charge. The Wikimedia Foundation operates some of the largest collaboratively edited reference projects in the world, including Wikipedia, one of the 10 most visited websites in the world.

Summary points:

  • The selection is organised around National Curriculum subjects
  • The articles have been cleaned up and checked for suitability for and usefulness to children
  • Website: http://schools-wikipedia.org ;
  • Downloads download link
  • Available for free as BitTorrent full download (3.5GB with full size images) standard download (1GB with only thumbnail images) or on DVD from the charity's offices in Cambridge.

There has been recent public discussion, started by the Education Secretary, on the suitability of Wikipedia for UK schools. Many articles on the live Wikipedia website are of acceptable quality and accuracy. This Selection aims to correct the remaining criticisms made of Wikipedia as a school resource:

  • the Selection has been screened;
  • the Selection cannot be vandalized;
  • children cannot "meet" adults there;
  • there are no very explicit articles or content. (The most detailed article is Birth Control, which has been kept technical and neutral).

Note: The Wikipedia Selection for Schools is a separate project from the recent 0.5 Release Version of Wikipedia, although they share technology and volunteers. The Selection is about twice the size, and aims to give a fairly complete selection of articles of direct interest to school children or of direct relevance to the National Curriculum. It is entirely free, and has no commercial advertising.

Contact:

  • David Gerard, UK media contact, Wikimedia Foundation: wp@davidgerard.co.uk, +44 7733 223584
  • Andrew Cates, CEO, SOS Children UK: andrew@soschildren.org, +44 1223 365589
  • Elizabeth Rodgers, Press Officer, SOS Children UK: elizabeth@soschildren.org, +44 1223 365589