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 Sugaroperating 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.”
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.
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.
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
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.