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Guest post by Richard Caraballo from the Kamba Dyami Project in Angola
Paul wasn’t a typical child from Angola. He was quiet as well as shy, but he was always laughing. He had green eyes and black hair. He was very tall for his age. He was living in a poor neighborhood called Lixeira (Portuguese for “dustbin”).
It was a normal day when Paul arrived at school. Deep in his heart, he felt that something was about to happen, but he didn’t know what. When he enteredhis classroom, he saw that his peers were excited about something. So he asked his teacher: “Why is everyone so excited?” The teacher answered: “We have a new friend named Kamba Dyami and it is a computer.” Paul asked: “Kamba Dyami?” “Which means MY FRIEND in one of the African languages used in Angola. The language is called Kinbundu”,said the teacher. Paul sat in his place a little bit confused, though he liked the idea of having this new friend as he’d never had a computer in his hands before.
After ten minutes, the teacher entered with the “new friend” and gave one to each student. The teacher also got a new friend, but he didn’t know how it worked either.
Two of Paul´s friends, who were living near his house, asked him about this computer, but Paul couldn´t explain what it was because it was the first time he held one.
The class was very noisy when a stranger entered. At the moment when he entered everyone made silence. This strange man came to explain all about Kamba Dyami. Also, he came with a challenge for the class. Everyone had to make a video about their neighborhood using this new technology. After one week, he was to choose one to receive a prize.
The strange man gave them a few instructions. They had to interview a number of neighbors about garbage. “What do you think about trash in our neighborhood? Why do we have so much waste here? What do you propose we do to eliminate litter at Lixeira?”
Paul, who was born in Lixeira, had never asked himself these questions. On the other hand, he thought this was a real challenge. He was concerned thinking that he wouldn’t be able to complete the project because of the problems he had with his parents and siblings. They didn´t pay attention to him because they thought work was more important than studying. However, it was now mandatory for children to attend school in the country. When Paul´s parents and siblings were children, studying wasn´t obligatory.
The stranger in Paul’s classroom was a big, serious and strict man. He started to look around to pick a student to do the project. Paul hid behind his fellow students because he didn’t want to be chosen as he was nervous. The stranger was looking for an interesting student; he looked at Paul and chose him. Paul thought: “Oh no, what I am going to do? This job is impossible for me and I have only one week to complete it.”
But Paul learned to use Kamba Dyami faster than he thought. During the first and the second day, he wasn’t able to do any interviews because he had to work with his family. On the third day, his brothers took the computer and they didn’t want to give it back to him. Paul already knew a lot about the Kamba Dyami laptop because he had already explored all the activities it had. However, he wasn’t able to do any interviews until the fourth day.
The neighbors saw him walking around the neighborhood with the computer. They asked his parents what was going on, but Paul’s parents answered that what he was doing really didn´t matter. On the other hand, people saw Paul’s computer ability and they encouraged him to become a master of this technology and told him that nobody in the neighborhood could use a computer as well as him.
On the last day, he was able to complete many interviews around the neighborhood and accomplished his task. This was a big challenge for Paul.
Through this activity, Paul not only learned to use the computer, he also learned a lot about life. He learned about the people who were living in his neighborhood. He acquired new skills and learned that he can change his own future through education.
Fundación Gente Unida (The Foundation for United People- the “Foundation”) is a non-governmental organization created to provide education, training, and protection of children and young people in vulnerable situations. The organization works to meet their basic and educational needs with available resources, in an effort to improve their quality of life.
He saw beyond the beauty of the mountains to the shantytowns surrounding the Valley of Aburra. He spent time with a group of young people and participated in conferences on human values, and he asked them: “Why are you indifferent to the poverty and violence in Medellin?” The group began a profound and painful experience as they visited families living in the impoverished Moravia neighborhood. The group discussed the needs of these families and they shared their hopes and dreams with the young group.
In 1993, Father Villalobos Ortega started an educational program involving 33 children from this community. The goal was not only to meet the children’s immediate needs but also to teach them so they could become the builders of their own futures.
The social work of the Foundation is the concrete expression of its commitment to solidarity that every human should have for one another. The Foundation is actively working to build a more just society based on love, as the Hindu proverb states: “It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.”
The Foundation provides protection and education to the most vulnerable people living in the Medellin metropolitan area. There are currently five educational centers located in the most disadvantaged areas of the city: Moravia, Santo Domingo (La Esperanza), Manrique (La Honda), Belen (Villa Café) and Robledo (Pajarito). The educational centers feed and educate 3,200 children, youth, and adults.
Educational programs include early childhood, preschool, primary, secondary and adult education courses. More than 170 children and youth live in the Mary Bohio Home, a shelter for children who have suffered from domestic violence, abuse, and/or neglect. The Foundation provides a home, care, and education for these children who range from 3 months of age through college age students.
In 2009, the Foundation launched the PERLAS project, a program focused on using a laptop for learning. More than 2,000 OLPC Laptops were incorporated into the classroom in an effort to make learning more fun and enriching for participating children. Children were given an opportunity to use a technological tool that would soon become their best companion in their academic training.
Children had the opportunity to participate in the world of technology, the world that was reserved only for those with sufficient financial resources, despite the pervasiveness of technology in our daily lives.
In 2010, additional 374 OLPC Laptops were acquired in order to include 1st through 5th graders in the educational program. Each OLPC Laptop given became an immediate ally of the child. Children now had a friendly team of support as they entered the world of technology, a world that seemed distant and unattainable before.
Thanks to the OLPC Laptop, homework became a more pleasant task and students had the opportunity to chat, share activities and play without having to be physically close to one another. This was certainly a surprise for the students!
The Foundation created a unique security system for the OLPC Laptop. When a machine is lost, the computer turns off and is unusable. The technical teams also created activation keys for the machines according to the school calendar. All coding was generated on the Foundation’s servers.
At present, there are 1399 OLPC Laptops in use in the Foundation’s educational centers, as follows:
Moravia Headquarters: 230 OLPC Laptops version 4.0
Sagrada Familia: 206 OLPC Laptops version 4.0
La Esperanza: 384 OLPC Laptops versions 1.75 and 4.0
Luz de Oriente: 579 OLPC Laptops version 4.0
The OLPC educational program and use of the OLPC Laptops are being supported by the Marina Orth Foundation during 2016. The Foundation is grateful for this collaboration!
Read his thoughts about the impact of technology in his own life and in the world:
From a young age, I’ve been amazed by the way technology helps us in our daily lives. It was mind-boggling to me when I saw subtle things like turning on a TV with a remote happen. This led me to the realization that I wanted to build technology that made people’s lives easier. I’ve always liked to see something happen after writing a program. This started off with LEGO Mindstorms but has come all the way to building Android Apps that automatically take notes for you when taking a picture of a textbook.
I wanted to benefit as many people as I could with the knowledge I had so I decided to teach kids how to build Android apps. While doing this, I wanted to maximize the benefit of this work, and that’s when I remembered One Laptop Per Child. I’ve always taken for granted the resources I had to do things and I wanted as many people as possible to receive the resources and opportunities to do the same. I realized that by donating to OLPC, my work would help benefit a lot of people. I chose to do just that.
Working with the kids was great. We started off from them not knowing anything at all to them being able to build a whole calculator all by themselves. We did this over the course of nine weeks. I was happy that I was able to spread that feeling of amazement on many people’s faces when they saw that what they programmed. That kind of feeling is what I live for and I really felt it when I saw those kids experience just that. The feeling itself is indescribable but it’s just amazing.
Teaching these students and then being able to donate to OLPC was a very worthwhile experience for me and I would recommend if anyone else can, they should make a donation as well. OLPC does great things in developing countries and is a real reason why the world is accelerating faster and faster all the time. All reasons support helping the OLPC cause.
Originaly posted ON
By Leah Shadle on behalf of One Laptop Per Child
In the heart of Nicaragua lies the largest lake in Central America, Lake Nicaragua. Millions of years ago, a volcanic eruption formed a curious island in this freshwater lake composed of two volcanoes — Concepcion and Maderas — the former of which is still active. Concepcion has an altitude of 1,610 meters, which makes Ometepe the world’s highest island on a lake. Volcanic ash has created an extremely fertile island and the volcanoes are visible everywhere on the island. Ometepe is truly a paradise, with its tropical, lush and magical air and soil.
In addition to the natural brilliance of the island and its volcanoes, Ometepe recently became the first digital island in the Americas. To put that in numbers, 100% of its 5,000 elementary school children and all teachers received a laptop connected to high-speed Internet, as part of the One Laptop Per Child educational initiative. Participating students and teachers receive OLPC laptops and the training and support needed to truly realize the potential of these machines
Continue reading HERE.
Far beyond the idea of giving computers to children with “an educational purpose”, like if education meant just providing content to be consumed, the origins of the learning philosophy of OLPC has been to provide kids with computers so that they can compute.
Seymour Papert believed, supported by decades of research, that by computing (coding, programming), the learner could be empowered to understand, create and think about their own learning, especially at early childhoold.
This panel from the Spring 2014 Member Event at the MIT Media Lab will explore more in detail the learning vision of Papert. Enjoy!
Panelists: Mitch Resnick, Marvin Minsky, Alan Kay, and Nicholas Negroponte.