This summer, OLPC is starting two projects in Africa. One is OLPCorps, which we have covered over the past few months and which you will be hearing a great about from the participants themselves. The other is the founding of a learning center that has just been founded at the Kigali Institute for Science, Technology and Management [KIST]. As part of this process, the OLPC learning team, including David Cavallo and Juliano Bittencourt, have been in Kigali for some time, laying the groundwork for this week’s public launch. President Kagame himself came to open the center — here is the official press announcement:
LAUNCHED IN RWANDA BY HIS EXCELLENCY PAUL KAGAME, THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF RWANDA
OLPCorps Teams to Assist in Providing New Educational Opportunities in 17 Countries in Sub-Saharan Africa
Kigali, Rwanda, June 9, 2009 — One Laptop per Child (OLPC), a nonprofit organization whose mission is to help provide every child in the world with access to a modern education, in collaboration with the Government of Rwanda, is launching in Kigali, Rwanda, a Global Center for Excellence in Laptops and Learning. The purpose of the Center is to create the highest quality examples of learning with connected laptops in schools and communities, support ongoing laptop implementation plans in Rwanda, and create an African regional laptop network.
Leading the world in exemplifying laptops for learning, Rwanda is the natural base for this new center. The government of Rwanda has committed to providing all 2.2 million of its primary school children with laptops by 2012 and to serving as a model for other countries to copy, improve and further innovate. The Center also will develop senior fellows, community learning specialists and technology specialists who will return to their countries to lead efforts nationally, regionally and locally to extend laptop learning programs.
“OLPC has experienced great success when support for our mission comes from both the government (top down) as well as from grassroots (bottom up),” said Nicholas Negroponte, founder and chairman of One Laptop per Child. “The partnership with Rwanda represents a substantial commitment by both OLPC and Rwanda to bring learning to the grassroots and country level, which is exactly where it should be.”
Theoneste Mutsindashyaka, Rwandan Minister of State in charge of Primary and Secondary Education said, “The new Center will strengthen the local team working on OLPC rollout in Rwanda, and further support it in terms of capacity development, technology acquisition and innovation, building networks of laptops, maintenance, and content development.”
Today also marks the beginning of a two-week orientation program in Kigali for the first 125 university students participating in OLPCorps, a unique summer grant program for college students across the globe designed to get laptop pilot programs up and running across the African continent.
After completing their training, the students will form 30 teams to be deployed in 17 countries in sub-Saharan Africa for a 10-week period during which they will work directly with local community partners to integrate the XO laptop into primary education. OLPC will provide each student team with 100 XO laptops, related hardware, and up to $10,000 for operating costs. OLPCorps is the first of its kind, built to tap into the passions of university students who aim to make a difference in their societies by improving access to a modern education.