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.

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.

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.

Punjab government to distribute 125,000 Ubuntu laptops to university freshmen

The initiative, launched last month with distribution to the first 1,500 students, is being promoted by Nawaz Sharif and secretary of higher education Kashif Faraz. Umar Saif, who runs the Punjab Information Technology Board, writes about this as the start of great opportunity for every child in Punjab.

It is good to see Pakistan making strieds in this direction, though they like India have chosen to start access to laptops, software, and knowledge with university students.

Carnegie Mellon team wins Hult Global Case Challenge

The Hult Global Case Challenge concluded over the weekend, recognizing winners in the three categories of education, housing, and energy – with challenges related to the work of OLPC, Habitat for Humanity, and SolarAid.

The education prize went to the team from Carnegie Mellon’s Heinz College: Reggie Cox, Elizabeth Cullinan, Ketaki Desai, and Tim Kelly.   They took the prize for their “innovative approach to ensure streamlined laptop deployment and to create a global brand for [OLPC]’s open-source software.”  This continues a tradition of CMU support for OLPC – their ETC lab held a game jam in 2007, and other CMU campuses helped organize a 10-day OLPC Rwanda workshop in Kigali in 2010.

The team wrote about their experiences with the case challenge last month, in the Huffington Post.

Team submissions were judged by a panel of judges including: the CEOs of the three organizations whose case challenges were being considered, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Muhammad Yunus, former NY Governor Mario Cuomo, Unilever Chairman Michael Treschow, and social entreperneur Darrell Hammond.  All of the final submissions were excellent.

The challenge has given us many good ideas for how to improve and streamline our mission; just the judging process has been wonderful. The winning teams will share $1M to pursue their ideas; more updates to come as we see how this unfolds.

You can find a press release about the results here.

Nagorno-Karabakh deployes 3,300 OLPCs to connected schools

Nagorno-Karabakh is a landlocked region which seceded from Azerbaijan in 1991, and has been engaged in a  low-grade military conflict involving Azerbaijan and Armenia ever since.  Recently they have launched a New Education Project to improve primary education across the region.

Many of the children in the region have schools, and some have internet access.  This week, they launched a small OLPC project, deploying laptops to 3,300 students in 16 connected primary schools in the cities of Stepanakert (the region’s capital), Shushi, and Karin Tak.

Vladik Khachatryan, Minister of Education and Science of Nagorno-Karabakh, was present at the launch.  He announced,

This program will improve the quality of education of elementary school students in the NKR, and what is more important, will make more information available to them and their families… within a short period of time we will be able to establish equal educational opportunities in all NKR.

Rodrigo added,

Education is a key factor to breaking the vicious cycle of ethnic hatred and violence for children who live in conflict zones.

I look forward to seeing the project develop, and hope that the recent focus on children and education brings stability and peace to the region.

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.

Sri Lanka completes first stage of national OLPC plan

Sri Lanka is a good example of collaboration between government, ngo’s, and international bodies.
They began an OLPC pilot in 2009, with support from World Vision Lanka, to see what a national laptop initiative might look like. This month they have finished deploying XOs to the last of their 13 pilot schools, chosen from each region of the country.

The program has been supported by the faculty at Colombo University, with educators working on a digital curriculum, texts that are included on every XO, and over 80 software programs (in Sinhala and Tamil) for students in grades 1-5.

Education Minister Bandula Gunawardena, overseeing the program, sees the XOs as “an ideal solution for the underprivileged schools which do not have electricity supply”. Now the ministry is considering how to expand this to the nation’s other primary schools.

e.Studyante : A new OLPC + connectivity program in the Philippines

Philippines has a number of amazing pilots underway. The grassroots eKindling group reports some remarkable success stories from their Lubang program, and have helped the province of Occidental Mindoro build on that success.

Now a new e.Studyante program in the Philippines, started in the Manila, plans to providing primary students with OLPCs and connectivity for the next 25 years. This program was started by P&G Philippines, along with Smart Communications (providing Internet connectivity) and the Synergeia Foundation.

e.Studyante recently launched at the Manuel L. Quezon Elementary School in Tondo, Manila. The program focuses on engaging education, supported by technology: it distributes XOs to students, provides other tools and training for teachers, and includes vetting and updating educational software and materials. It aims to make learning “fun, empowering, relevant, and easier” for kids, and to reach 1 million primary students by its 100th anniversary in 24 years – roughly 40,000 a year.

Chad Sotelo, P&G’s Country Marketing Manager, explained:

“We intend for this to complement traditional learning methods and tools instead of competing with them… A laptop and Internet connectivity becomes [their] window to the world’s knowledge and places it at their fingertips in real-time. People and places they had no access to before are now within their reach. These tools expand their horizons and minds and encourage them to dream and attain a brighter future.”

The program is funded in part through the sale of P&G promo packs, at retail outlets across the country; part of the price of each pack goes to the program.

A successful Contributors Program project: Rehnuma School in Karachi

If you haven’t seen this blog and this YouTube video from the OLPC Contributors Program project run by Talat Kahn and Carol Ruth Silver in Pakistan, you need to check it out! Watch the video and explore some of the creative ways the teachers and students are using XOs in their school.

This began as a 10 XO Contributors Program project and I was privileged to be their mentor. (Since then they found funding for over 100 XOs and are looking to grow.) And their class experiences and blog have been an inspiration to other teachers around the world. I did give them some help getting started and a couple of “lessons” via Skype, but after that, they ran with it! Notice the enthusiastic local community involvement that has helped make this project the success that it is.

P.S. Carol and Talat are members of the OLPC San Francisco Community. They are also the ones that introduced many of us (myself included) to the Khan Academy videos. We all learn from each other!

OLPC Asia team visits Sichuan school, updates their XOs

Last week twenty volunteers joined the OLPC Asia team to return to the OLPC pilot school in Sichuan.  OLPC donated 1000 XOs to children and teachers at the school, which supports students whose schools were destroyed by the 2008 earthquake.  The visitors spent a few days at the school, meeting with the school community and helping them update and repair their machines. Here’s a snapshot of them at work:

 

Amazing photos and update from the Philippines

The eKindling grassroots group gave a lovely update of their work in the Philippines, last month in San Francisco.  They have been working with the province of Occidental Mindoro for some years. This began with the Lubang pilot, spearheaded by Mayor Juan Sanchez and financed by his friends from National Computer Center Community Outreach, Metrobank, and  many other anonymous donors. eKindling’s counterpart contribution in this pilot was the education programming and training of teachers, students, parents, and local support team.

More recently, Governor Ramirez-Sato has begun an expanded initiative on Mindoro Island.  Elementary schools of the four southern municipalities,  San JoseCalintaan, Magsaysay, and Rizal, will be receiving another 550 XOs later this year.  With Lubang in the north and these four in the south, can the rest of the province be far behind?



The Occidental Mindoro team conducted a baseline readiness survey in March, visiting some of the schools.  This was the children’s first chance to use the laptops.  Since then, there have been two training sessions with teachers from all involved schools, in June and October, and a training session with champion students from all schools in June.

They took  photos of their visit to the San Jose Pilot Elementary school.  Two of my favorites:


Photos by Ideals.ph

The new pilots are being advised (kindled!) by eKindling and managed by the local school system, an excellent example of government/grassroots collaboration.  Thanks to both groups for capturing this day in the life of the schools, and for making it possible.

Health activity updates from Nepal

OLE Nepal has focused on health activities for some years now. Recently they undertook a project to develop a suite of them with educators from the UN’s World Food Program. In their August newsletter they announced that project’s successful conclusion:

OLE Nepal has completed the development of interactive digital learning activities designed to promote awareness in agriculture, food security and nutrition amongst school children. This set of thirty activities were developed with support from [the WFP] and are correlated with the Grade 5 “Science, Health and Physical Education” subject prescribed by the national curriculum.

OLE Nepal developed the activities in both Nepali and English. [They] have already been integrated in OLE Nepal’s larger E-Paath activity suite, and distributed to all OLPC program schools.

This is great news. Now we just need to upload them to the Sugarlabs Activities Hub and help get them localized into more languages. The E-Paath bundle and wiki pages could use updates as well.

Pakistan’s Open Source Resource Centers celebrate their students

Pakistan has a government initiative to support and promote the use of open source tools — an “Open Source Resource Center” program, supported by the Pakistan Software Expert Board.   13 of their students recently became Red Hat-certified technicians and engineers, and they have helped work on Sugar and related localizations.

They are running a small PR campaign to celebrate their work — representing Pakistan’s open source community at international events, and training over 8000 people who have come to a center for help or study.    Kudos to the OSRC teams – I expect we will hear more from them soon!

Making the world a more intelligent and humane place to live

Rodrigo Arboleda is giving a keynote address today at the International Symposium on Convergence Technologies (ConTech 2011) in Seoul, Korea – a gathering focused on making the world a more intelligent and humane place to live.   His talk is “Children as a Mission, not a Market“, focusing on the challenges of making modern education available to children in developing parts of the world, and OLPC’s lessons learned to date.