Rwanda’s ‘One Laptop Per Child’ Project Extends To 400 Schools

Original Post by Jeddy Genrwot on July 22, 2013

The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project has so far covered 407 schools across the country. At least  207,026 laptops have been distributed, according to Nkubito Bakuramutsa, the OLPC Coordinator in Rwanda Education Board.

Bakuramutsa told The New Times yesterday that Rwanda has been ranked third globally after Peru and Uruguay in terms of rolling out laptops in primary schools.

He added that at least all 30 districts have five OLPC-enabled schools.

“The project now focuses on seeing each school in all 416 sectors equipped with laptops.”

The project that was launched in 2008 aims at boosting Rwanda’s goal of becoming a knowledge-based society.

Bakuramutsa said that 2,200 schools have also been equipped with servers, wireless access points and digital content including, e-books, math, science and English courses.

“The server is also equipped with a school management and information system and security features to track laptops in case of theft or loss.”

According to Sergio Romero, OLPC Vice President Africa, Peru tops the list in the world when it comes to OLPC rollout in schools with about 750,000, Uruguay (approximately 475,000) and Rwanda in third position with more than 200,000.

The project has also trained 10,000 teachers with basic ICT skills to enable them to prepare and teach their lessons in digital format.

Bakuramutsa further said that with such a massive deployment, the OLPC programme is looking at establishing a modern call centre that would provide online maintenance support to schools.

Credit: NewTimes

 

A bright future for Bura Tana Community – Kenya

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St Jude Primary School is located in Bura Tana, a ten hour drive from the Nairobi airport in Kenya. The leaders of this school are dedicated to providing the best education in the area. Children here are able to participate in various activities throughout the school day. This motivates them to learn and to work hard. These children are very excited about receiving the XO laptops in their school, thanks to Lesley Hayman Sager and friends, who have provided this wonderful opportunity to these children.

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OLPCA, through its office in KIGALI, supported the school by providing a one day training on the use of XO laptops. The children enjoyed the different activities on the XO laptop, especially the Chat activity and the Maze activity. The Chat and Maze are activities that were developed by Sugar Labs. Such activities are preloaded on the XO laptop. Ten children and three teachers attended the training. These students and teachers are now responsible to share what they learned with the rest of the school.

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In addition to the basic introduction on the use of XO laptop, the children also came to understand that the XO laptop serves as a tool to use to further the learning process. The children came to see that the laptop offers a new way to express their ideas, share these ideas with their community and the rest of the world. When asked about their experience with the XO laptop, the students were full of joy and expressed their gratitude to people who brought the XO laptops to their school.

To assure sustainability and to motivate the children to continue using the XO laptops, the school created two clubs that will be monitored and supported from Kigali, the St Jude News Line Club and the Creative Arts Club. Participants registered for these two clubs and teachers will monitor the progress of the clubs.

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This project symbolizes the ideal and hope that these young children will continue to support their community in its development through education and access to information and technology.

By Intwali Jimmy Parfait

OLPCA Rwanda

OLPC Workshop in Johannesburg

OLPC South Africa Foundation organized a comprehensive three day OLPC workshop conducted by OLPCA representatives from its office in Kigali on December 10 to 14, 2012.

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The main objective of this workshop was to provide a comprehensive introduction to OLPC. The workshop also explained the tremendous milestones achieved to date in providing educational opportunities to children in developing world.

This workshop introduced the XO, its preloaded content and the Sugar learning platform to people from organizations who will be involved in preparation and implementation of large teacher trainings and deployments in South Africa.

The workshop also examined what has been learned in Rwanda during the past four years. The OLPC team from Rwanda shared its experiences, achievements, challenges and perspectives moving forward in its ongoing effort to integrate OLPC technology into the Rwandan education system.

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OLPC South Africa Foundation invited some of its friends, associates and colleagues who will be instrumental in furthering the OLPC cause in South Africa. Invitees included individuals from the National Education Department and other thought leaders from various organizations. Approximately 25 to 30 individuals attended the workshop.

Workshop Overview

The first day of the workshop provided a general introduction to OLPC’s background, its mission, and learning philosophy. The team presented OLPC achievements to date. OLPC representatives shared an overview of different OLPC projects worldwide. The OLPC team also discussed the Rwandan experience and the lessons learned over the past four years of the project in Rwanda. The team shared galleries of children’s work from various schools in Rwanda. OLPC representatives examined the impact on learning, classroom dynamics, changes in school attendance, and the overall changes brought by XO into the families and communities in Rwanda. This busy day ended with all attendees exploring preloaded content on XO. Attendees were able to experience the uniqueness of the Sugar learning platform, which allows learners to create, share and collaborate with their peers.

On the second day, the workshop introduced the Sugar learning environment to the representatives of different organizations in attendance. It is anticipated that these organizations will be involved in preparation and implementation of next year’s large teacher trainings and deployments. Participants executed different lesson plans integrating curriculum topics. During this process, participants became familiar with the Sugar user interface and the Write, Record, Scratch, Etoys, Social Calc and Portfolio activities.

OLPC representatives shared different approaches used in Rwanda to support schools on the learning side of the project. For example, the OLPC team in Rwanda has organized XO users clubs, after school and holiday camps, and XO weekly challenges. The team has also worked with teachers to develop lesson plans that integrate use of the XO laptop. The second day concluded with an overview of what is suggested by the OLPC deployment guide and how the project has been implemented in Rwanda.

The third and last day of the workshop was focused on the technical aspects of the XO laptops. Participants were introduced to the XO’s hardware and software, the school servers and troubleshooting tips. The attendees also assembled and dissembled laptops from Kliptown project.

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OLPC representatives concluded the workshop with additional support to the OLPC project in Kliptown. The team worked with the Kliptown youth program volunteers and Members of Pendula ICT (a technical support company) to ensure all laptops were in good conditions for use by the Kliptown afterschool program. The OLPC foundation in South Africa is committed to providing South African children with OLPC technology. Many of the lessons learned in Rwanda will be valuable as the South Africa project begins to take shape.

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Happy New Year! Reflections on OLPC in 2011

As we prepare for 2012, here is a quick look back at the past year of OLPC. We distributed our two millionth laptop (now 2.5M), and our largest programs in Latin America (Peru) and Africa (Rwanda) grew steadily. Austria’s Julieta Rudich and Journeyman Pictures produced a fine documentary about Plan Ceibal in Uruguay (the world’s first complete olpc program), and Peru provided XOs and compatible robotics kits to all of their urban schools.

In East Africa, we expanded our work with African nations and donors to improve education for children across the continent. We were invited by both the African Union and the UN to open an OLPC office in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Addis is a major hub for African diplomacy, and the support there for our mission has been stunning. We have become a full partner of the East African Community in Tanzania, and our recent country report on Rwanda has driven further interest in the region.


A Rwandan student workshop in Kigali

In the Middle East, we continued working with the Palestinian Authority, Israel and the UN to provide thousands of Palestinian children with XO laptops, integrating them into schools. It took ten months to work the laptops through customs in Gaza. But at a forum in Ramallah in June, teachers from Bethlehem and Gaza showed how OLPC was helping to end isolation and to excite learning for their children. Third grade girls in refugee camps are teaching others and writing computer programs. The testimony of these women to the power of persistence was extraordinary.

In Afghanistan, we founded a regional OLPC Afghanistan office, and briefed General Petraeus on the project. We believe that one laptop per child and connectivity, across the country, will transform this generation and their communities. Today we are working with the Education Ministry to support four thousand children in 10 schools, and are looking into expanding in Herat Province.

On the technical side, we focused on driving down laptop power needs by switching over to ARM chips in the XO-1.75 and upcoming XO-3 tablet. The tablet should be chargable by a solar panel that could serve as its carrying-case. We are studying new ways to help children learn to read, including where there are no schools at all.

In society, the idea that every child should have access to their own computer and to the Web – as a basic part of learning, whatever their family income – continued to spread. In addition to ongoing national programs in Argentina, Portugal, and Venezuela (for secondary students), two full-saturation laptop programs for older students are developing in India – an inexpensive tablet is being distributed to university students, and in Tamil Nadu dual-boot laptops from six different manufacturers are being provided to secondary students.

Reaching the least-developed countries in the world remains our goal and our most difficult challenge. While our largest deployments are funded directly by implementing governments, rural successes may be driven by foundations, NGOs, and individual donations. OLPC Rwanda, today one of the largest educational technology projects in Africa and part of a ten-year government plan, was seeded with ten thousand laptops given by Give One, Get One donors.

So to our supporters: thank you for your development, contributions, and collaboration, your feedback from the field, and your encouragement! This is all possible thanks to you.

Happy New Year to all — may 2012 bring you inspiration and discovery. We have some excellent surprises planned for the new year. And we would love to hear your reflections as well — please share stories from your own school projects in 2011.

A trek across Africa to support students

Tamin-Lee Connolly plans to travel from South-to-North across Africa, ending in the middle-east, visiting schools and helping to deploy laptops along the way. She may even bring some of her own. Today she begins her travel by flying back to her native South Africa from Dubai, where she has been working, launching a year-long journey by land rover to visit 39 countries. She plans to volunteer for OLPC and perhaps other educational groups along the way, and has been talking to grassroots XO deployments to find those that would benefit from a visit – starting with the amazing team in Kliptown!

If you’re working in Africa, drop her a line on her travel blog, everything except the horn – perhaps you can meet up during her trek.

OLPC Ghana: finally underway in the rural East

OLPC Ghana’s national program, initiated under the last national regime and supported by the Baah-Wiredu Laptop per Child Foundation, was deployed to one large town (the Millennium Village of Bonsaaso), but then was delayed for a year while the new regime reviewed the program.  Recently the rollout of XOs to rural parts of Ghana has continued.

Last week XOs reached a new school in the Suhum Kraboa Coaltar district, as reported by GhanaWeb, along with new furniture for the school. It is unclear from the report, but the laptops there seem to be in a new part the school, in a computer lab. This is unlike the project in Bonsaaso, and not the implementation we would recommend, but it is good to see that school connectivity in rural parts of the country is being revisited as a priority.

 

African Union and OLPC commit to educational transformation work throughout Africa

The African Union [AU] and One Laptop per Child today signed a Memorandum of Understanding in which they commit to provide laptops to primary school students throughout Africa.  Matthew Keller, OLPC’s Vice President of Global Advocacy, and Lidet Tilahun, Vice President of International Outreach, were present for the signing at AU’s Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The AU has committed itself to work with OLPC in developing large-scale laptop projects, and to work with OLPC on seeking funding from prospective donors as well as recipient countries for these projects. OLPC and the AU will work together to leverage the advantages of the XO laptop and its award-winning Sugar operating system in transforming primary school education, and to promote strategies for better access to laptops and connectivity.

“OLPC’s partnership with the African Union represents another significant step toward a world in which every child has access to a world-class education, to the world’s body of knowledge, and to each other,” said Keller. “The African Union is dedicating itself not simply to One Laptop per Child, but to a world in which the children become agents of change – making things, teaching each other and their families and affecting the social development of their community.”

Commissioner Jean-Pierre Ezin, the AU Commissioner for Science and Technology, said, “Getting connected laptops filled with dynamic educational content into the hands of children throughout Africa will change the way this generation of children thinks and learns. The AU is eager to realize what could be a profound development as a result of advanced technology in the way learning happens both in and out of school, the way that books are read, and the way that education happens inside a classroom. This is a very ambitious project for which we will have to partner with various people and institutions to mobilize and find the resources required to meet the objective of educational transformation.”

Rwanda’s broadband is 3rd fastest in Africa

A recent report ranks Rwanda’s broadband connectivity speeds third on the continent, ahead of its neighbors in East Africa.  This seems to be changing rapidly; I recall that just over a year ago, when we hosted the OLPCorps summit in Kigali, it was difficult for attendees to find hotspots to upload videos of any length.

Rwanda keeps on surprising its neighbors.  It intends to be an ICT hub for the region, and is moving in that direction full speed.  Kudos to Kagame and his young crew for making that dream real, year by  year.

Rwanda: capacity-building for teachers in 150 schools

OLPC Rwanda organized a capacity-building workshop for 300 teachers this week. The school-head and one lead teacher from each of 150 schools attended. The GC4LL blog has a detailed writeup. I like this quote in particular, since passing on the ideas behind our core principles takes time:


They also are going to learn about the two main points of the OLPC implementation: one laptop per each child and children take laptops home. Those two points are always controversial and it is very important that school’s principals understand the underlining logic behind them. It the school management buy the concept, the success chances of the project in the school increase significantly.

There is also a photoset from the event and a copy of their “training booklet“(PDF) online.

A classroom in São Tomé e Príncipe

It’s 8am on Saturday morning, and 100 students and five teachers sweat in a single classroom. Most likely, there is no energy today, but with luck, students come to class with their computers fully charged from another neighborhood. In a concrete room with one door, the students spend hours working on their bright green XOs. The sounds: typing and talking.  And laughter.

Students working on XOs outside in Sao Tome

Students working on XOs outside in Sao Tome

This is the scene in São Tomé e Príncipe, a two-island nation of about 160,000 off the west coast of Africa, near Gabon and Nigeria, at the São João Secondary School. The school received 100 XOs in the summer of 2009 through an OLPCorps team of students and professors from the University of Illinois.  It now runs XO classes for its sixth grade students with help from Beth Santos and a local organization called STeP UP (São Tomé e Príncipe Union for Promotion).  The XOs at the school are  quite popular – the program has been covered by local and national news networks.  You can see pictures of the project and find other São Tomé-related links at the Sao Tome Blog.

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