Delaware student builds English-to-Creole translator in Scratch for XOs

Eric McGinnis, a senior at U. Delaware, took part in a visit to Haiti earlier this month coordinated by his school, UNC Charlotte,  Waveplace, and Mothering Across Continents.  After taking a course in game development, he built an English-to-Creole translator in Scratch which he distributed to students at the Waveplace school.

The UDaily covered the trip and his project.

1 in 20 Latin American children use an OLPC laptop

There are roughly 58 million primary school students in Latin America, according to UNESCO’s latest data from their Education For All initiative.   5% of children in that age range are not in school.  And 5% of them use XOs: 1.5 million children have their own, and Peru’s urban initiative is giving another 1.5 million students in urban schools access to XOs through a program where groups of 3-5 students share a laptop.

 

Today 4/5 of these students are in Uruguay, Peru, Argentina, and Mexico.   But new programs are growing rapidly, in NicaraguaCosta RicaColombia, and elsewhere.

That’s a lot of budding Pythonistas, Scratcheros, and Linux users!
Now if only my own home country would start providing computers and connectivity to its students as a matter of course…

Sonora State: Making connectivity a universal right since 2011

In October 2011, Sonora State added the “right to connectivity” to the first article of the state Constitution, along with the right to liberty, education, and housing. They were the first Mexican state to adopt such a right, and one of only three states in the world.  People are still writing about it today as an example of how to provide effective access to knowledge – as debates unfold over how to keep the Internet open.

From the announcement last year:

La iniciativa que adiciona un párrafo segundo al Artículo 1° de la Constitución Política del Estado de Sonora fue promovida por los diputados Enrique Reina Lizárraga y Gorgonia Rosas López, a fin de transformar el acceso a Internet en un derecho o garantía de la ley fundamental local.

“Es decir, que el Estado deberá garantizar el acceso a la conectividad de redes digitales de información y de comunicación dentro del territorio sonorense a todos sus ciudadanos, pues este tipo de servicios cada día han logrado convertirse en un factor indispensable de cualquier ciudadano.”

In English:

The initiative, which adds a second paragraph to Article 1 of the Constitution of the State of Sonora, was promoted by representatives Enrique Reina Lizarraga and Gorgonia Rosas López, to transform Internet access into a fundamental right or guarantee of the local law.

This means that the State must guarantee access to digital information and communication networks within the Sonoran territory, to all its citizens, because daily access to such a service has become indispensable for any citizen.

 

Kudos again to Sonora for their farsighted planning.  They not only support free software as a foundation for learning, but  have recognized connectivity as infrastructure for modern life, and not a luxury.

Rodrigo discusses OLPC with Colombian paper El Tiempo

Natalia Bonnett of El Tiempo interviewed Rodrigo last week about OLPC and its work in Colombia. From the interview:

¿Cómo va el proceso aquí [en Colombia]?

En los próximos días, Itagüí será el primer municipio en toda Colombia que va a tener un computador para cada alumno de primaria. Es la primera vez que logramos romper el hielo. Ha sido muy difícil, probablemente no hay profeta en su tierra… También llegamos a La Macarena. Pero también hay casos de filántropos del sector privado o asociaciones como Asocaña, con quien próximamente llegaremos al Valle del Cauca. El Gobierno Nacional hizo un esfuerzo a través del Ministerio de Educación de proveer conectividad a las escuelas. Con una sola señal que llegue a la escuela, nosotros trabajamos por medio de wi-fi y lo único que hay que instalar son repetidoras internas dentro del plantel.”

In English:

How is the process going here [in Colombia]?

In the coming days, Itagüí will be the first region in all of Colombia to have a laptop for every primary student. This is the first time that we broke the ice. It was very difficult, probably noone is a prophet in his own country… We are also heading to La Macarena. But there are also cases of private-sector philanthropists or associations such as Asocaña, with whom we will soon come to Valle del Cauca. The national government made an effort through the Ministry of Education to provide connectivity to the schools. With a single signal to the school, we can work via wi-fi and the only thing that needs to be installed are internal repeaters within the school.”

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.

Michele Borba interviews children, parents and teachers in Nicaragua

Dr. Michele Borba, the inspiring parenting and educational consultant who has been working recently with OLPC, travelled to Nicaragua with Rodrigo and the deployment last week for the Ometepe project launch.  She writes, “[We] looked like a mini-United Nations representing Germany, Argentina, Italy, Colombia, Denmark, Honduras, the Dominican Republic, Bosnia, South Korea, Belgium, India and the U.S. We were teachers, bankers, doctors, writers, embassy representatives, lawyers, and businessmen, but we all shared a commonality knowing that something immensely significant was about to happen on that Island, and could feel it the moment we walked onto a huge field.

She also visited a school that has been part of an existing OLPC project near Managua for over a year, and wrote about the history of the program there.

The first delivery of XO laptops to Nicaragua was in 2009, and the impact is already evident. Statistics show a 40% reduction in drop-outs, a decrease in retention and in violence. Best yet, parents are starting to come to the schools to be involved in their children’s learning, and the teachers recognize those laptops are affecting their teaching!

I visited a small rural primary school (San Francisco de Asís) outside of Managua using XO laptops since November 2010. There is now full OLPC school saturation. Positive changes are clearly apparent: the parents are more involved in their children’s education; there has been a high increase in school registration; and student learning is increasing, and here’s why.

The teachers were all trained by OLPC and continue with monthly staff development training.

Each computer is equipped with grade-level texts including natural science, geography, geometry, Nicaraguan history and culture, a dictionary, and Wikipedia, books (“Mine has Harry Potter!” one boy exclaimed), as well as programs that encourage children’s creativity, music and art. Teachers report that students are now far more engaged in learning. Parents say their kids are using the computers to continue learning at home.

Over the next hours I observed various teaching lessons using the XOs. Sixth graders working in base teams to learn how to mind-map different types of calendars (Mayan, Greco, Julian). Third graders paired with partners to identify bird species. First graders were learning how to use the XO drawing program and discovering beginning programming skills. Fourth graders were mentoring younger students…

Dr. Borba also spent some time talking to students and teachers outside of class:

[A ten-year old] told me that her computer has “greatly advanced my learning… Yesterday I learned about industrial agriculture. Tomorrow I’ll be giving a presentation in my classroom about farming techniques.” She added that her favorite laptop activity at home is doing research on Wikipedia. Her goal, she said, is to become an engineer. I have no doubt that she will.

The whole story is posted on her children and parenting blog.

Warehouse fire in Peru destroys $100M of Quechua & Ashaninka books, XOs, and solar panels

Update: OLPC and Quanta have offered support to Peru to help them get new materials shipped to schools quickly. UNICEF Peru has asked national organizations to offer what help they can to allow schools to start on schedule.  National newspaper El Comercio has offered to reprint the books on newsprint, quickly and at no cost, as a temporary measure — and is asking for donations of local-language educational materials to print.



A tremendous fire Thursday night in the Breña district of Lima destroyed a major warehouse of Peru’s Education Ministry, which contained $100M in materials being prepared for deployment to eastern Peru. This included a half-million books, 40,000 XOs, 21,000 other laptops for teachers, and 6,000 solar panels. The books lost included one of the country’s largest caches of early-literacy texts in indigenous languages such as Quechua and Asháninka, aimed at children from 3 to 5 years old.

The XOs were the latest part of the roughly 1 million laptops Peru has purchased for their national XO program, the world’s largest. They have been focusing on their rural and indigenous schools, such as the communities that were scheduled to receive these materials.


Salas speaking, and the fire from a distance Thursday night


The disaster mainly affects the schools in east Peru, many with limited electricity, which are starting their fall semester. Peru’s Minister of Education Patricia Salas (above) talked to reporters about the loss, and President Humala said his government will make sure they deliver materials to those schools despite the fire.

“Quiero señalar que esto no va a interferir la política del Estado de cumplir un cronograma de metas, de proveer de material didáctico para los escolares … Tenemos un lote de contingencia para ir cumpliendo el cronograma.”

The fire raged for over 10 hours before being put out Friday morning, and led to two days of air-pollution alerts in the surrounding area.

This is terrible news, and our thoughts are with our friends and colleagues in Peru. Thankfully, it seems that noone was hurt.


The former warehouse, unrecognizable the morning after


Ometepe, Nicaragua: una Mágica Isla Digital

Ometepe, Nicaragua is a legendary and extraordinary place: a double-volcano island that has maintained its community and culture fairly distinct from the country around them. Daniel Drake and others have been helping them realize Nicaragua’s latest deployment (past coverage), thanks to the ongoing work of Fundación Zamora Teran, connecting every child on the island to the Internet and to eachother. After its public launch last week, Rodrigo shared this beautiful and inspiring report from the island (pdf).

En el corazón de Nicaragua, y en medio del lago del mismo nombre, el lago más grande de América Latina, millones de años atrás una erupción volcánica formó una curiosa isla compuesta por dos volcanes, uno de ellos activo aún. El nombre indígena, Ometepe, significa precisamente dos montañas. Con 245 km2, constituye la isla de agua dulce más grande de las Américas. Declarada como una de las maravillas naturales del mundo por la ONU, ciertamente posee cierto aire paradisíaco, tropical, exuberante, mágico, como un set de película. Sus 50,000 habitantes, indígenas en un 90%, vivieron hasta hace menos de una generación en un oscurantismo medieval, una especie de parque jurásico, donde ningún habitante sabía leer o escribir. El día de ayer, en un espectacular y malabárico salto de la rana, Ometepe se convirtió de repente en la primera isla de las Américas totalmente digital, donde el 100% de sus 5,000 niños de escuela primaria y la totalidad de sus docentes, recibieron uno de nuestros laptops XO, conectado al Internet de alta velocidad y con las aplicaciones pedagógicas inherentes.

Llegamos a Ometepe acompañando una comitiva de empresarios no solo de Nicaragua sino de todo Centro América y de representantes de organismos multilaterales, ONGs, medios de comunicación internacionales y funcionarios del gobierno, interesados todos en ver por si mismos lo que la fundación Zamora Teran viene haciendo en Nicaragua.

Fundada por el banquero Roberto Zamora y por su esposa Maria Josefina Teran, han logrado en menos de 30 meses una transformación educacional y al mismo tiempo una buena aplicación del concepto de filantropía transformadora, sin precedentes. De su propio bolsillo y con aportaciones recientes de clientes, personas naturales y hasta de un país, Dinamarca, han logrado ya entregar 28,000 laptops en varias regiones de critica pobreza en este país, de por si uno de los más pobres de las américas. Como si fuera poco, anunciaron que aspiran a implementar 500,000 unidades, es decir el 100% de los niños de primaria de Nicaragua, incluyendo discapacitados mentales (autismo, síndrome de Dawn), discapacitados visuales o físicos (ver foto) antes del 2015! Al ver lo que han logrado en estos 30 meses, no me queda la menor duda de que lo lograrán.


Para llegar a la isla hay que tomar primero un bus por más de dos horas hasta llegar a uno de los varios puertos en las riberas del lago. Luego, un Ferry que tiene varias frecuencias de viaje por día, se tarda otras dos horas para llegar al puerto de Ometepe. Desde la distancia, se vislumbran las siluetas de los dos volcanes como guardianes de un ecosistema de exuberancia tropical que necesita cariñosa vigilancia. Carreteras adoquinadas evocan épocas pasadas y al mismo tiempo entrevén aplicaciones prácticas de adaptación a los continuos movimientos telúricos. Los adoquines son más flexibles y se acomodan ejerciendo una labor de amortiguación cuando la madre tierra manifiesta su vitalidad y fortaleza con unos terremotos como el de 1972 que destruyó Managua. Tierra fértil por ser conformada por cenizas volcánicas, la agricultura y el turismo constituyen las principales fuentes de ingresos de sus habitantes. El clima es un poco más benigno que el de Managua, conocida por su calor asfixiante, pues las laderas de los dos volcanes producen corrientes de aire que refrescan un poco el ambiente.

La paradoja consiste en que los niños de esta población estarían marcados a seguir la suerte de sus ancestros, agricultores artesanales de pequeños minifundios con costumbres milenarias pre-colombinas pero que precisamente dichas culturas estarían en vías de extinción por pura inercia. El traer estas culturas a la modernidad, lejos de acabar con ellas, ofrece una oportunidad de poderlas difundir y compartir, como ya estamos haciendo con casos similares en Mexico y Perú.

Convencidos de que la única solución a ese circulo vicioso destructivo es la educación, el matrimonio Zamora Teran decidió embarcarse en esta misión de rescate de las juventudes Nicaraguenses para lo cual adoptaron el proyecto One Laptop Per Child como vehículo de cambio educacional y de inclusión social y económica.

Meses de preparación previa con los docentes, padres de familia y algunos estudiantes claves, garantizan que inmediatamente recibidos estos laptops podrán comenzar a producir el cambio de paradigma educativo y social buscados.

Varios conceptos básicos hacen esto posible… Continue reading

Laptops in Saskatchewan go home!

In Canada, the national OLPC project continues to expand into the homes of students and teachers; this week including Saskatchewan.

It is a pleasure to spend the week with Kakisiwew School of Ochapowace First Nation – home of OLPC Canada Technical Coordinator, Justin Bear. Justin founded and runs the community cyber cafe/youth zone, provides tech support to the elementary school, teaches classes with the XO and is the central contact for technically based OLPC Canada inquiries from our sites across the nation.

More details about the students and their work with the dance activity Swift Feet on the Canada blog.

OLPC in Mexico: proudly running Linux

Last week we shared excellent news from OLPC México: Sonora’s plans to distribute XO laptops to 350,000 children across their state over the next three years. A few days later the head of Microsoft in Mexico commented in a Sonoran newspaper that ‘while giving computers to students is a good thing, the Sonora project will fail because XO laptops use Linux instead of Windows.

In the same article the Microsoft spokesperson claimed the OLPC project in Uruguay had been a failure due to “Internet security and privacy issues” and that it changed to Wintel machines. Miguel Brechner, head of Plan Ceibal in Uruguay, corrected those misimpressions. There are 570,000 XO laptops in Uruguay schools, all running Sugar for elementary school students and Linux for middle school students, with no security or privacy problems. While dual-booting Windows was available for years as an option for OLPC deployments, almost none chose that option. (Uruguay tested it out, but opted for Gnome-on-Fedora instead.)

This misinformation from Microsoft is a pity; they seem to have no internal incentives to make accurate statements or to advance education. We applaud the work of the Sonora and Uruguay communities to their students, and look forward to their continued success!

OLPC Colombia newsletter

OLPC Colombia published the first issue of its newsletter, UniverXO, this month (pdf), with an essay on “La Revolución educativa con tecnología sigue en alza” (‘Advanced technology and the education revolution’).

Comunidad One Laptop per Child Colombia, bienvenidos a
la edición número 1 de nuestro boletín interno de OLPC, el
cual circulará mensualmente para que compartamos
noticias, artículos, publicaciones, eventos e historias
cotidianas relacionadas con los programas de OLPC en el
país y en el mundo. Ésta es una invitación a protagonizar
un movimiento de transformación educativa. Generemos
reflexiones e iniciativas para transformar la educación, el
aprendizaje y las prácticas pedagógicas. La clave es
compartir. ¡El cambio está en nuestras manos!

Read the full bulletin on the OLPC wiki!

Ghana Together: building networks of teachers

The non-profit Ghana Together has been repairing and deploying donated XOs in Axim, Ghana for years – now providing over 50 XOs in their Children’s Home. They and work with local techs and a student repair center at the Arts and Technology High School in Marysville, WA. They recently wrote about helping a nearby school that suddenly received XOs.

What about Those One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) Computers?

In 2011 the Methodist School was suddenly given 30 OLPCs from the government of Ghana.. .They thought they looked liked toys, not realizing that they are actually very sophisticated “learning machines” for primary school children. The headmistress found out that I was coming to Axim, and asked me to come and do an impromptu two-hour workshop.

Consequently, two teachers worked with me to test and update laptops. I engaged Peter Asuah, one of the original WHH scholars, to help test all the OLPCs, chargers, etc. I left a very complete manual… These guys are computer sophisticated, and I’m sure they will do a good job orienting the children.



Since the machines are designed to be “self-exploratory”, it’s been my experience that once children understand the basic way the computer functions, they do very well on their own. In fact, this hands-on, exploration approach is perfect for these children, because they have been so immersed in rote learning from blackboard and exercise books. The science teachers told me they are trying to get away from that kind of teaching, but up to now, they didn’t have materials to work with… now they have materials and machines.

Later in my visit, when the science teachers came up for the brainstorming session, I spent the first hour on another impromptu workshop, introducing them to the basic workings of the OLPC. They were fascinated…

Meanwhile, if anyone reading this has an OLPC you’d like to donate, we’d like to have it, in working condition or not. The Marysville Club is very skilled — they repair them, or if need be cannibalize them.

Read the full post on the Ghana Together blog.

Nicaragua: Fundación Zamora Terán expands to the legendary island of Ometepe

Fundación Zamora Terán recently expanded the work of OLPC Nicaragua to include the community on the beautiful and legendary Ometepe, an island formed by the two volcanoes rising out of Lake Nicaragua.



Teachers play a key role in the use of the XO laptop, incorporating it into daily planning and classroom activities. Maria Josefina Terán Zamora, its founder, said of their new island initiative:

During the past two years, we’ve been working hard to ensure that our OLPC project is one of the best in the world and delivers the maximum benefit to our children. Today we are very happy to include the children of Ometepe and connect them to the rest of Nicaragua and to the world.

The Fundación coordinates and executes XO purchase logistics and installation and provides a high level of technical support. A pedagogical training plan has been developed with the support of a qualified educational team that facilitates the integration of the XO into the existing Ministry of Elementary School Education Curriculum. Schools participating in the OLPC project must meet specific selection criteria.

The Ometepe initiative has been supported particularly by contribution from the LAFISE-BANCENTRO Bank, and brings to 25,000 the number of XOs distributed to children in schools across the country.

You can read the official press release.


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.

Costa Rica prepares for a 25K laptop program

Costa Rica has had many experiments with OLPC over the past years, including support from Costa Rica University.

Recently the Education Ministry, working with the Fundación Quirós Tanzi and national retailer Gessa, has launched the Conectándonos project to connect young students to the Internet. The program started this month with a deployment of 1500 XOs to students and teachers, and is scheduled to reach 25,000 students by 2013.

They have engaged teachers and community leaders in the development of the project so far, and seem to be planning quite a well-balanced and integrated program.

The Mexican State of Sonora Launches OLPC

Sonora Is Latest Mexican State to Integrate Laptops into Children’s Learning.

MIAMI, Feb. 21, 2012 – One Laptop per Child (OLPC), a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide every child in the world access to new channels of learning, sharing and self-expression, announced today that the State of Sonora, Mexico, is distributing 5,000 XO laptops to elementary school children.  Adoption of the OLPC program is part of the State’s larger plan to extend Internet connectivity to all its citizens.  In accordance with the UN’s declaration of Internet access as a basic human right, Sonora is the first state in Mexico to establish connectivity as a human right in its Constitution.

The OLPC project in Sonora will be implemented by Nueva Generación Sonora A.C. (New Sonora Generation), a nonprofit organization whose goal is to provide every child in the State access to the knowledge economy through strategic use of information and communication technologies and programs. 

During the next three years, 350,000 XO laptops will saturate all elementary schools in Sonora.  In addition, XO laptops will be implemented in more than 100 community centers that will offer connectivity and technical and pedagogical support to students and teachers and for local projects to benefit their communities.  The OLPC project has the full support of Governor Guillermo Padres and the mayors of Sonora, as well as the Social Development Secretariat (SEDESOL) of the Federal Government.

“Improving children’s education is a key goal for my administration,” said Governor Guillermo Padres of the State of Sonora.  “Society and government must work together to support projects that will ensure a better future for all our citizens.  Education is everyone’s responsibility.”

Sonora is the latest Mexican state to launch an OLPC program. In September 2010, 500 XO laptops, funded by Procter & Gamble, were distributed to indigenous children in San Felipe del Progreso, State of Mexico.

In August 2011, the General Department of Indigenous Education of the Ministry of Education distributed 1,800 XO’s to remote schools in the State of Nayarit in Western Mexico. As part of this project, the Sugar learning environment is being translated into several indigenous languages – Huichol, Cora and Mexicanero.

1,900 XOs are also in the process of being distributed to children in the State of San Luis Potosi in North-Central Mexico. For this region, Sugar has being translated into Teenek.

“Our progress in Mexico is based on partnerships between the public and private sector,” said Rodrigo Arboleda, Chairman and CEO of the One Laptop per Child Association. “Mexico is a very diverse country and we are focused on projects that bring learning to all children, including those who speak indigenous languages.”

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About One Laptop per Child

One Laptop per Child (OLPC at http://www.laptop.org) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide every child in the world access to new channels of learning, sharing and self-expression.  In partnership with the public and private sectors and non-governmental organizations and supported by comprehensive implementation and pedagogical services, OLPC seeks to provide each child with a rugged, low-cost, low-power connected laptop that empowers individual learning and growth.
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