Niue reviews phasing out olpc, citing Internet costs

Niue, a small island nation in the Pacific, became the first country to provide one laptop per child, over two years ago. At the time, OLPC Oceania was just taking shape; since then, another 8000 children and teachers have implemented programs across the Pacific.

Last week Niue’s acting Director of Education, Lisimoni Togahai, said that although the first two years went well, they were phasing out the program. “The school could not afford to pay for the high cost of maintaining the V-SAT that’s connected to the satellite for the internet access.

Niue supported child ownership, and children there take their laptops home and keep them when they graduate. About half of the 500 XOs deployed belong to students who are still in the school system. While schools may be phasing out their subsidized connectivity, the children can use their XOs elsewhere. The country has abundant free wifi – it was touted as the first “Wifi nation” in 2003 for the availability of wifi in all of its cities.

Michael Hutak, coordinator for OLPC Oceania, has been in touch with them hoping for further background. He recently posted a summary of lessons learned so far from Pacific pilots. An excerpt:


* There is country-level demand and political and community support for OLPC in the Pacific;
* Small pilots provide an insufficient evidence base for policy makers;
* Monitoring & Evaluation should be integrated at the outset of an OLPC programme;
* Broad-based regional technical assistance is needed to aid country capacity building;
* Laptops and hardware peripherals should be centrally maintained in the region to efficiently support trials;
* There is suppressed demand for internet connectivity in rural and remote schools.

See also ChristophD’s take and Michael’s followup.

In Australian outback, OLPC school triples numeracy ability in 1 year

The rural OLPC school in Doomadgee, Queensland more than tripled the number of 3rd grade students demonstrating proficiency in numeracy — from 31% to 95% — from 2010 to 2011. This coincided with a renewed focus on the school, including providing every student with an XO.

As Michael Hutak reports, Australian MP Rob Oakeshott highlighted this in a statement to Australia’s Parliament, calling for national support for OLPC and similar initiatives to improve access and partiipation and close the education gap across Australia.

Australia’s toughest Linux deployment: a plan for 300,000 XOs

Sridhar Dhanapalan is giving a talk next week about OLPC Australia, pitching it as “Australia’s toughest Linux deployment“.  It certainly is that.  He notes their aim to reach each of the 300,000 children and teachers in remote parts of Australia, over the next three years.

From his abstract:

OLPC Aus­tralia aims to cre­ate a sus­tain­able and com­pre­hens­ive pro­gramme to enhance oppor­tun­it­ies for every child in remote Aus­tralia… by 2014.

[T]he most remote areas of the con­tin­ent are typ­ic­ally not eco­nom­ic­ally viable for a busi­ness to ser­vice, hence the need for a not-for-profit in the space. 

This talk will out­line how OLPC Aus­tralia has developed a solu­tion to suit Aus­tralian scen­arios. Com­par­is­ons and con­trasts will be made with other “com­puters in schools” pro­grammes, OLPC deploy­ments around the world and cor­por­ate IT projects.

By pro­mot­ing flex­ib­il­ity and ease of use, the pro­gramme can achieve sus­tain­ab­il­ity by enabling man­age­ment at the grass-roots level. The XO laptops them­selves are… repair­able in the field, with min­imal skill required. Train­ing is con­duc­ted online, and an online com­munity allows par­ti­cipants nation­wide to share resources.

Key to the ongo­ing suc­cess of the pro­gramme is act­ive engage­ment with all stake­hold­ers, and a recog­ni­tion of the total cost of own­er­ship over a five-year life cycle.

 

OLPC SF Community Summit: October 22-23

The OLPC Community Summit is back for a second year, hosted again by OLPC San Francisco. It promises to be the year’s best rundown of OLPC efforts around the world, large and small.

You can see the schedule online at olpcsf.org, and should register now if you want to attend. Last year was pretty packed!

OLPC Oceania expands to Kosrae, with US support

Since our first partnership with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, which began in 2008, OLPC has seen significant deployments in Niue (the first country in the world to realize one laptop for every child), Nauru, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and Papua New Guinea.

Last year we expanded our work in the region to start pilots in 12 other countries from the Pacific Island Forum.  One of the pilot projects developed was a well-received program in Kosrae, one of the four states of Micronesia.

As Michael Hutak reports on the OLPC Oceania blog, we are now working with Micronesia to build on the success of that pilot. Kosrae recently secured a $400K Supplemental Education Grant from the United States under the Compact of Free Association agreement between the US and Micronesia. Kosrae plans to implement a full-scale deployment of OLPC to all of their students from 1st to 8th grades.

 

 

In July, Kosrae deployed laptops to all 810 students and teachers in grades 5-8.  The first laptop was handed out at Utwe Elementary School, by Kosrae State Governor Lyndon Jackson (with Department of Education Director Lyndon Cornelius looking on).

ceremony was held at Tafunsak Elementary School to announce the program, attended by US Ambassador Prahar, who encouraged everyone involved to use their new tools well.  As Oceania expands its OLPC program, this looks like a model to follow, with collaboration from many sectors of the local and international community.

A photo from the handout at Wachung Elementary school, visited by Cornelius and former Senator John Martin.

The second half of the deployment, for the students and teachers in grades 1-4, will take place later this year.

OLPC Oceania teams up with University of the South Pacific

Mike Hutak, OLPC Oceania director, signed an agreement with the University of the South Pacific this week, committing to work together to further research and teacher training on 1-to-1 Computing in the region.  Mike commented on the handover in Fiji:

USP is the leading teacher training institution in the region with campuses in all 10 Pacific countries where there are OLPC projects. Governments and ministries of education will now have access to the best minds in the region for their country to using the XO laptop in the classroom. And at the Japan Pacific ICT Centre, they will now have access to the best facilities too.

 
Mike: thanks for the update!