It’s 8am on Saturday morning, and 100 students and five teachers sweat in a single classroom. Most likely, there is no energy today, but with luck, students come to class with their computers fully charged from another neighborhood. In a concrete room with one door, the students spend hours working on their bright green XOs. The sounds: typing and talking. And laughter.
This is the scene in São Tomé e Príncipe, a two-island nation of about 160,000 off the west coast of Africa, near Gabon and Nigeria, at the São João Secondary School. The school received 100 XOs in the summer of 2009 through an OLPCorps team of students and professors from the University of Illinois. It now runs XO classes for its sixth grade students with help from Beth Santos and a local organization called STeP UP (São Tomé e Príncipe Union for Promotion). The XOs at the school are quite popular – the program has been covered by local and national news networks. You can see pictures of the project and find other São Tomé-related links at the Sao Tome Blog.
For more background information, see the blogs from last summer’s University team: XO Mike, XO Chika, and Mwolske. Since the Fall, STePUP classes have included extra lessons on Saturdays headed by teacher Miguel Afonso da Boa Esperança and a handful of other teachers.