OLPC Jamaica evolves: an inspiring story

This guest post is from Sameer Verma, professor at San Francisco State and founder of the OLPC-SF regional group.

I was on sabbatical leave at the University of the West Indies (UWI) in Fall 2008. There, I helped start the Center of Excellence (CoE) at the Mona School of Business at UWI. Through the CoE, we started the OLPC Jamaica project on September 5, 2008. In Jamaica the team has been led by Craig Perue – who was two weeks ago appointed Advisor to the Minister of Education!

It has been three and a half years since that first effort, an uphill battle to get the project going to fulfill its goals of early childhood education, technology in remote and rural places and community outreach and impact, not to mention supporting IT infrastructure (server, wireless LAN, content filtering, traffic management) remotely over a VPN for 5 year olds 🙂

Last year, we implemented 115 OLPC XO laptops in two schools, and the results have been amazing. I was on a data collection trip over the recent break, and what we are finding through the initial analyses is impressive:  An increase in numeracy by 12%. And the most sought-after program is TuxMath. Other results will be interesting as well, we hope.


Here is a brief on OLPC Jamaica and a video clip (12 minutes well spent) of what we have done so far.   These are *my* children 🙂

SF State is mentioned in the credits at the end.  This is also an example of OLPC’s Contributor Program at work. We were fortunate enough to have been seeded with 10 OLPC XO-1’s in 2008.


A great new schoolsever blog

George Hunt has recently been experimenting with the XS schoolserver (currently XS 0.7) on various hardware setups.  And he is tracking his work on a blog dedicated to the purpose.  We are now including it in the OLPC Planet newsfeed.

It’s a good read if you have been trying similar things at home or in your own school.  You can contact him with questions or comments through his blog.


How to buy XOs in quantity

We recently posted a wiki page summarizing XO prices (roughly $185-$205 by quantity), and how to get XOs for your own deployment: Buying XOs. The minimum order is 1,000, with occasional exceptions made for orders as small as 100.

In addition to our national partnerships, OLPC regularly sells XOs to groups all over the world who are running pilot programs in their district or community. While we do not often sell in quantities of less than a thousand laptops, exceptions are made for programs that have planned for a successful deployment. (And we feature some of the best-planned grassroots programs here on our blog!)

For groups working in war-torn or post-conflict regions, we may also be in discussions with aid groups who could help support a program. Feel free to get in touch with us if you are planning a sizeable project in these regions. For more information or to place an order, email us at countries@laptop.org.

South Africa: Building grassroots support for access to a modern education

As noted last week, Jackie Lustig has compiled a report from our South African projects. It draws on background data from the country, and highlights work done there over the past four years.

Starting with a gift of 100 laptops from donors on Boston, and expanding through the interest of a number of OLPCorps projects in 2008, South Africa has expanded its OLPC community to almost 1500 students and teachers today.

OLPC South Africa case study, 2008-2012

(This is an 8MB pdf, so may take a moment to load)

Stories from Eshibinga II: My father, and the private face of computers

Reposted with permission from the Eshibinga blog:

Last week we got the good news. Our class is soon going to get two more computers. That is great news because we are a class of 40 kids and and increasing… [they] have helped us learn most of the computer basics, writing, recording, games, music, etc etc. Recording activity was my favorite. When I grow up I want to be a photo journalist.

Our dream as a class is to have each kid own his or her own laptop. I think a computer has a private face. As much as computers do lots of public work, but I think and I stand to be corrected, that a computer is also personal. The reason I am saying this is because I have some personal matters in my life which I have typd and recorded on one of the laptop. It is no secret here in Eshibinga that my dad has been living with HIV AIDS. He does not have long to live. Every word he tells me is important. Every smile he gives me is precious, every prayer he makes for me and my three other siblings is memorable. After learning about the recording activity on the xo laptop, I asked Mr. Amunga to give it to me to go with it home. I sat my dad under his favourite tree. And I recorded his voice, his smile his face.

Later I realized that what I had recorded was so important. I don’t want it erased. It may be the only chance for my three sisters and I to hear and see our dad in future.
The advice dad was gave was very personal and very private. I don’t want my classmates to read watch or see the recording I made on the xo laptop. Neither do I want it erased. What do I do? Yesterday teacher announced that will get two more laptops. I want to talk to him to give me this particular one for keeps. It has the face of my dad, my history, my roots. I need to keep this recordings. They are too personal, too private, too precious. A computer has two faces the private and the public.