Zambia’s Twabuka Community School Receives Donated Laptop Computers

Reposted from original

Award-winning US travel writer Candyce H. Stapen (gfvac.com) recently visited Wilderness Safaris’ Toka Leya Camp from 15-17 June, not only to enjoy Zambia’s renowned hospitality, but also to donate 11 new computers.

The laptops from One Laptop per Child (OLPC) are powered by their own individual solar panels, which eliminates the immediate need of providing electricity for the school. The computers’ programmes are also able to operate without Internet access when necessary, although Internet access is a plus.

“I am delighted to be working with Travel Sommelier who helped plan our wonderful trip to Zambia and with Children in the Wilderness (CITW) to bring One Laptop per Child (OLPC) computers to rural schools in Africa. The project, Henny’s Kids, is named for my mother, Henrietta, who was an elementary school teacher”, says Candyce H. Stapen. “She would have been extremely proud to see how quickly the children learned how to use their new laptops and she would have been delighted to provide access to reading material and to a whole new world of educational opportunities.”

One Laptop per Child Zambia

According to Dr. Sue Snyman, Programme Director for CITW, one of the main priority needs previously identified by the School PTA and village headmen was access to computers. Toka Leya’s GM, Petros Guwa, and Dr. Snyman work closely with the school in terms of community development projects and meet with the PTA on a regular basis. “The teachers are extremely enthusiastic and proactive and we will be working with them an ongoing basis to ensure the correct assistance and training is received. Ideally we are hoping to grow this project so that the school has the required number of laptops to ensure maximum benefits to both the children and teachers”, Snyman added.

OLPC is a non-profit organization founded in 2005 with the goal of transforming education by providing every child with access to a connected laptop computer, the XO laptop. Connected laptops provide a cost-effective way to create learning environments that facilitate the greatest possible development of all children. OLPC is driven by a firm belief that laptops have a unique ability to leverage children’s innate curiosity and desire to learn, to develop critical thinking skills, and to foster a lifelong love of learning.

A laptop and solar panel, plus shipping fees, cost USD350. Donations of any amount are welcome. To assist us with achieving the next minimum directed order of 100 laptops, please contact Candyce (donate@hennyskids.com), Sue (sues@wilderness.co.za), or send a check or money order in U.S. dollars made out to One Laptop per Child for any amount. Please mail your donation to: Henny’s Kids, P.O.B. 42673, Washington, D.C. 20015-9998, USA.

OLPC about Aakash

In view of certain recent statements, One Laptop Per Child Association, Inc (“OLPC”) would like to clarify that Mr. Satish Jha has not been affiliated with OLPC since August 31, 2012. Mr. Jha does not represent OLPC or any of its affiliated entities and the views expressed by Mr. Jha do not represent the views of OLPC or any of its affiliates.

OLPC has always encouraged projects expanding the learning opportunities of children in the developing world including the Aakash initiative in India. OLPC is dedicated to providing the world’s children with access to an innovative education. OLPC supports all efforts dedicated to this end and it encourages the makers of the Aakash initiative to continue to explore such educational initiatives. Moreover, OLPC applauds the efforts of the Government of India as it continues to examine new and innovative ways to educate the children of India.

OLPC was created to design, manufacture and distribute educational laptop computers to children around the world. Inquiries related to any existing or future OLPC projects should be directed to OLPC, which is based in Miami, Florida.

Teacher from Nicaragua shares her experience with the XO

My name is Reyna Flores. I teach a combination of multigrade grades third through sixth at the little school Miguel Larreynaga in Tipitapa.

I hope that, like me, other teachers could have the opportunity to have the XO valuable pedagogical tool for improving the education of our children.

When working with the XO I tell my students that this computer is our “green little friend.” It includes great applications we call activities. We use them in any subject, and something else… We already have Internet! which allows us to enter the world of information.

Now, I want to share the pedagogical aspect in class:

As I teach four grades, the XO has been very important to increase the ammount of information, documents and materials that reinforce learning. I used to have difficulties when I taught geometrical bodies to third graders because there are children who have no geometric kits, then the activity called Paint Activity allows them to draw them.

When learning language arts, we use information obtained from Wikipedia and the children of the upper grades elaborate didactic schemes with the Maze activity as an alternative to reading techniques.

In physical education a stopwatch is needed to record the time-distance speed according to each student’s age. The XO has one.

In cultural and artistic expression we have no access to a marimba or the sounds that the student must know so here we come to the TamTamMini activity.

In science class, using the Record activity, children make their community tours taking pictures of what they believe is part of the environment and even pollution issues.

I also believe that the XO supports students who have some learning difficulties. For example, a child in third grade had pronunciation problems with the consonants L and R, so I asked him to write a list of words using the Sara activity, this way, the student could improve his diction.

At the end of each period, children take their homework and they relax with activities and Games that help them increase skills and mental agility.

Courage, dear colleagues! Let work for the children in Nicaragua. Lets focus on endeavor, affection, good will and the mystique that has always characterized teachers.

I invite other teachers to participate in the column “Teachers speak” because we must all learn from others’ experiences.

* Teacher at Miguel Larreynaga school, Tipitapa.

One Laptop per Child in Gabon: Further Expansion in French Speaking Africa

We just launched a new program in Gabon. From the press release:

MIAMI–(BUSINESS WIRE)–One Laptop per Child (OLPC), a nonprofit organization with a mission to provide every child in the world access to new channels of learning, sharing and self-expression, announced today that it has launched the project with the Government of the Republic of Gabon to initiate a 1:1 educational computing project for the children in the country.

“We welcome the initiative and leadership of HE First Lady of Gabon, to launch the OLPC project in Gabon and look forward to her continuing support to reach national saturation for primary school children”

The initial phase of the project represents approximately ten percent of the children in Gabon and a total saturation of all primary school children is planned to be completed by 2014.

The OLPC project was initiated by HE First Lady of Gabon, Madame Sylvia Bongo Ondimba. OLPC will provide full technological, educational and community development training to the Ministry of Education staff responsible for the project’s launch and will provide quarterly ongoing support in the country. The Gabon project will also include the involvement of the Office of the President in planning for countrywide deployment of the OLPC laptops.

“Individual empowerment is the key to the future development of all of Africa and I am very proud that Gabon will demonstrate that educating children through OLPC is the foundation of empowerment,” said HE First Lady of Gabon, Madame Sylvia Bongo Ondimba.

“We welcome the initiative and leadership of HE First Lady of Gabon, to launch the OLPC project in Gabon and look forward to her continuing support to reach national saturation for primary school children,” said Rodrigo Arboleda, CEO of OLPC Association.

A hat tip to the franXOphonie community, including Kaçandre, Bastien, and OLPC France; thanks to them we have the Guide XO Gabon (from an OLPCorps project back in 2009-10) and a French version of the 2011 deployment guide.

OLPC Uruguay Q&As: Miguel Brechner on Plan Ceibal

Christoph D just posted a lovely interview with Miguel Brechner about OLPC in Uruguay and Plan Ceibal.

And a few months ago Karen Cator, Educational Technology Director at the US Department of Education, replied to a question from Miguel at a learning technology conference. She shares a few views from her Department, from Secterary Arne Duncan‘s interest in Uruguay’s leadership in empowering children, to issues of how long it takes to transition to such a program in our world of independent, federated states. Some states are saying that ‘by 2014 they want to be like Uruguay in terms of… laptop access‘.

OLPC photobook available online: via the community summit

OLPC-SF has posted their beautiful photobook with images from grassroots deployments around the world, along with a link to a print-on-demand service where you can order your own. I have one of these on my desk; it is beautiful! As Sameer says, “many thousands of words” in one smooth package.

A visit to Wonchi: OLPC’s Ethiopian Literacy Project

Evan Szablowski was in Addis Ababa, spending a week meeting Ethiopian entrepreneurs. Michael, one of the tech leads for our literacy project in Ethiopia, was one of the people he met with. He was captivated by the literacy project, and on hearing that Michael was heading to Wonchi (one of the two villages taking part in it), he and his teammates decided to tag along.

While he was there he met some of the students eager to show off how they liked to use the tablets (they are using Motorola Xoom tablets with mainly off-the-shelf Android literacy apps, with a few custom apps and tweaks by OLPC). At some point, one of the children (below) stood up to quiz the others on what they were learning.

Evan wrote up the experience in a beautiful essay on his new blog, illustrated with photos from the day.



While this is just one anecdote from the project, the photo series is priceless, and puts the whole effort in context: the geography of the town, the social setup of the small farming community, and the economic circles of the village and the technicians supporting them.

An overwhelming sense of excitement and optimism overtook us, and we couldn’t stop smiling as we watched. We left with such a feeling of inspiration and optimism, amazed at witnessing two completely different worlds [fuse] with one another… Zach said this was the best thing he has done in a long time, and I agreed.

I hope they realize it someday. I hope that someday one of those kids will say, ‘When I was only 4 years old, the laptop project from MIT came to my village, and it forever changed my future.’ What an amazing perspective that person will have.

This was not foreign aid, or handouts… This was education, and just the first step in enabling them. Enabling the young minds of Africa for brighter futures. For a brighter nation, and a brighter continent.

@Evan: Thank you for sharing the day with us!

XO cameo in Oliver Stone’s Savages

The green machine makes an appearance in a future-looking scene, towards the end of Oliver Stone’s new film Savages. The production team asked for a set of laptops back when they were wrapping filming, as a vision of what the world will look like when every child has a laptop to study with. It’s good to see the scene ended up in the final picture.

Those three XOs will be a nice collector’s item one day…

OLPC job opening: support techs in Charlotte, NC

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in North Carolina are seeking 4 support technicians to support the 3000+ students taking part in the OLPC program as part of Project L.I.F.T. This job will involve day-to-day IT support, maintenance and installations at the school site: including XOs, servers, and networking equipment.

A longer job description follows:
Continue reading

OLPC in Goa

Monsoon Grey posts an update on the school pilot in Goa, about a lesson in Turtle Art, with a photoset by intern Bindi Dharia. Harriet Vidyasagar, who helped get the first school projects in India underway, continues to support the project.

The team writes about the new activities they have installed for all of the students this year, including “I Know India”, and the workshop they organized for new teachers for the coming year.

Miguel Brechner sobre el impacto del Plan Ceibal

La República recently published an article on the history of Plan Ceibal and how it is seen and referenced by programs in other countries:

Nuestro país es consultado constantemente por otros estados interesados en aplicar el programa de “una computadora por niño”…

Uruguay tiene presencia mundial no solo por el fútbol. El Plan Ceibal hace que nuestro país tenga una presencia importante en grandes eventos. “Hace algunas semanas, fui a un congreso con veinte mil personas en Estados Unidos, y el primer día no dejaron de hablar de Uruguay”, explicó Miguel Brechner.

Read the whole piece (in Spanish).

On OLPC and the diversity educational environments

A reply to S. Varghese

One of the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations is to offer a sound elementary education to all children of the world by the year 2015 and to increase their access to information and communication technologies. One Laptop Per Child has worked since 2006 on this urgent educational mission in collaboration with public and private organizations in some forty nations, mostly in developing countries.

The great diversity of educational environments – or the lack of them – is the principal challenge here, and needs careful programming based on local conditions and human resources. OLPC is founded on five principles: ownership, early ages, saturation, connectivity and free and open source collaboration. This is the result of decades of research and development in advanced centers of study, and the XO laptop and the Sugar platform are two remarkable products of this international collaborative work. Other products will come soon as OLPC evolves to give answers to the increasing demands of education.

The central question is how to scale up the OLPC program from a town to a province to a country, in order to satisfy the educational requirements of different student populations. The agenda is getting more complex with the expansion of the geographic area involved. The local authorities must establish a detailed agenda in several steps, to provide a sound educational program to different cohorts of students, continuous training of teachers, and distribution of laptops to all children and teachers. Also the implementation of servers and internet connectivity in schools and public places, the logistics of repair or substitution of the laptops, etc. This whole process is part of a dynamic “cultural evolution” that produces a great variety of results, some unpredictable and innovative.

Continue reading

Mobile libraries: a Victorian idea helping OLPC users share books

David Bainbridge and Ian Witten of the University of Waikato in New Zealand published a paper last year about using the Greenstone digital library toolkit to help offline XO users share libraries of books. From their abstract:

The idea draws upon mobile libraries (bookmobiles) for its inspiration, which first appeared in Victorian times. The implemented technique works by building on the mesh network that is instrumental to the XO-laptop approach. To use the technique, on each portable XO-laptop a version of Greenstone is installed, allowing the owner to develop and manage their own set of books. The version of Greenstone has been adapted to support a form of interoperability we have called Digital Library Talkback. On the mesh, when two XO-laptops “see” each other, the two users can search and browse the other user’s digital library; when they see a book they like, they can have it transferred to their library with a single click using the Digital Library Talkback mechanism.

Alas, you need to be an ACM member or pay $15 to read the full paper.

The challenge of curation

From the olpcsf blog

Last year, right after the OLPC SF Community Summit 2011, I had the pleasure of attending Books in Broswers (BiB-II) at the Internet Archive. It was a plan made with SJ on-the-fly to take the Pathagar OPDS Book Server and put it on a 4-watt SheevaPlug. The very cool and awesome duo of Mary Lou Jepsen and John Ryan helped us present the unit. We live-tested it: 150 people hit the box and it held up. Load tests revealed it could serve 500 simultaneous users!

So we had a self-contained book server, that could run off a solar panel, and arguably serve thousands of books in the middle of nowhere – a Wi-Fi bubble, that serves up books to all within its reach.  Heck, we even have a virtual machine, complete with Pathagar on it!   Where do we get the books? The Internet Archive of course! With its 3 million plus books, its a vast ocean to fish from. The bigger challenge is fishing well.

How do you curate content for your little Wi-Fi bubble?   And once you do so, how do you pull it all together?

Raj Kumar (@rajbot) at the Internet Archive has the answer… Continue reading

A short history of the Aakash tablet

Seema Singh recaps some of the history of the Aakash and related efforts for Forbes India. The Aakash got its start with a tender for 10K units from IIT Jodhpur, which was expanded to an order for 100K from the Indian government. DataWind, the company that secured the initial tender, ran a pilot which received much fanfare, but distributed only 572 tablets to 19 colleges.

There was some debate as to whether these met the initial spec; and work was refocused on an updated design, the Aakash 2.  It’s unclear whether the rest of the inital 10K tablets were distributed to the government; 30K of that model were sold online marketed as the UbiSlate. The Aakash 2 is currently being tested by DataWind and two institutions in India, with hopes for a [new] school pilot of 100K students this fall.  The first of those machines are being deployed this month.

DataWind has had trouble meeting deadlines and demand.  They were beset by many external pressures: heavy pressure to keep the price down, the scrutiny of a very public launch, and requirements that much of their supply chain and manufacturing be based in India (which limited the number of possible partners and added a few single points of failure).

They have accumulated many non-binding statements of interest in v.2 of the tablet; but it’s not clear how many will convert now to sales.  And after a half-year of heady press they have suffered a half-year of negative backlash.  They now aim to offer the commercial version of the Aakash 2 for just under $65; and the Indian government still plans to subsidize half the cost of a model for students – at least for the 100K in this year’s pilot.  While this is still an impressive undertaking, as it was when announced last year, the delay has hurt the national story.  Now people like Singh are calling the project a disaster rather than a landmark success, and worrying that China will launch a similar program first.

Singh highlights a few related projects from around the country:

  • The “$10 laptop” effort started in 2009 by Technical Education secretary NK Sinha (which did not produce a laptop nor contribute IP to the current project)
  • The Ministry of Rural Development’s socioeconomic census, which commissioned 640K tablets in 2011 and 2012 for its door-to-door surveys (at $72, from Bharat Electronics, with no drama but their admitted inability to meet the ministry’s request of a $35 price point)
  • The Tamil Nadu government’s “one laptop per student” program to deliver 1.4M laptops to college students each year for the next 5 years. (They have 6 different vendors sharing the task)

She notes that some of the Tamil Nadu vendors are finding it difficult to complete their deliveries under budget.  But neglects to note that the program was successful enough for Uttar Pradesh to copy it, recently putting out a tender for roughly 250K tablets (for students passing their 10th grade exams) and 200K laptops (for those passing their 12th grade exams), as year 1 of a multi-year program.

We will see whether DataWind manages to make good on their goal of millions of sales this year.  Kapil Sibal continues to push for all 220M students in India to have their own laptop or tablet.  And he continues to say compelling things of his vision, such as “It will be a device that creates content.” One way or another, I hope that vision is realized.

OLPC comes to North Carolina! Knight Foundation sponsors XOs for 3,200 students in Charlotte

The Knight Foundation yesterday announced it would join community leaders from Charlotte, North Carolina in contributing to Project L.I.F.T., a 5-year $55M+ project to improve education in West Charlotte schools.  (It began last January with a $40M round of fundraising; and this year raised another $15M.)

Knight’s contribution will fund a community engagement coordinator to keep parents and local communities in touch with the project as it develops, and for an OLPC program (including XOs and training) for all students and teachers in grades K-5 in the L.I.F.T. schools: roughly 3,200 in all.

This builds on our work together earlier this year, to develop a digital literacy program at Holmes Elementary School in Miami.  Our experience so far suggests that giving elementary students access to computers – and letting them take them home and use them with their families – helps promote better informed and engaged communities.

We are delighted to see this new project take off within the framework of the existing L.I.F.T project. And looking forward to working more closely with the Knight Foundation, whose input has already informed some of our practices. Their background is in community engagement rather than education, which complements the viewpoints of our other partners. And the added focus on community engagement is one of those necessary elements that can make all the difference in longevity and impact.


Children receiving XOs in Miami’s Holmes Elementary School