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…

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.

Visualizing universal connectivity in Argentina

Argentina’s Conectar Igualdad program, which will provide 3M laptops to secondary students across the country by the end of next year, has devoted much time to their web presence.  (The secondary students receive Classmates; 60K primary students in the north have also recieved XOs.) The national education ministry has a history of excellent web sites, including educ.ar, which has gathered learning materials and information for teachers for years.

Conectar Igualdad has, among other things, a lovely real-time summary of the program’s progress, noting the current targets or the deployment and how it has progressed during the current phase in each district.

They are also open about the experimental nature of their work.  They have asked students and communities to come up with great ideas and local initiatives using the laptops and other information technology, running a variety of contests to select the best of them.  The aim of these contests is to highlight the dynamic of “one laptop per child” and universal connectivity, connect with web 2.0 services, and to collaborate with others in a creative way.

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A day with my XO

La Rioja, Argentina
I am writing from the Airport of La Rioja, with my blue XO, waiting for my delayed plane to Buenos Aires. I spent this morning with the Minister of Education, professor Walter Flores and his team, visiting two elementary public schools. Today the whole province is celebrating a significant event, every child and teacher is showing their work on their XO, more than 50,000 have been already distributed. Un día con mi XO, is the title of this very peculiar Journey. A very impressive experience indeed, a massive celebration, the first ever, I think, in the OLPC world. An incredible feat for this Argentine province, the first in Argentina to have saturated the whole educational system, in elementary and special schools with the XO laptops, private and public, and also the secondary and technological schools with the Intel netbooks. A detail, the XO were bought by the province and the netbooks by the nation. A perfect solution.

In La Rioja both platforms coexist in great harmony, due in fact that the leaders of the XO team with their expertise are also in charge of the netbook implementation in the secondary schools. A good model to follow in other settings for a smooth transition when the children finishing primary school return their XO (to be recycled and given to the new cohort in first grade) and receive instead their new netbook for the secondary school. In fact in many families children and adolescents use both equipments in the «expanded school» at home and outside, in the public places with wifi. A new digital landscape is unfolding. I have seen a remarkable video of a show with hundreds of children walking on the streets of La Rioja by night with their XO shining like candles in the dark.

It was really moving to see today the schools transformed in an immense XO laboratory. Classrooms, yards, gardens, corridors were blooming with the green laptops and hundreds of children with their parents and teachers around. The media followed the visit of the Minister who gave several interviews. I also was interviewed working with the children who were fascinated with my blue machine and …my white hat. I was impressed with the immediate reaction of the students. Many wanted to have my blue XO and some told me that the blue keyboard was much better. I agree. One discovered that I had a new program to «play games with numbers». In fact we will test it in the next weeks in some schools of La Rioja. It is a remarkable software produced by a team at the University of Buenos Aires under the leadership of Mariano Sigman, a member of the scientific advisory board of OLPCA. If the result is satisfying we will distribute it to the whole OLPC community around the world.

A continuous flow of information came from remote parts of the province, all the 380 elementary schools were today performing a fantastic concert of digital ideas. A day to be remembered as the celebration of the program Joaquin V. Gonzalez, who started only one year ago and now has fully integrated the whole province, every child without exception, in the digital world. I hope La Rioja will become a leader in the Andean region and we discussed with Minister Flores the possibility of expanding the XO experience to the near province of Catamarca and even to Atacama in Chile.

At OLPC we are educators without borders.

Educacion 2.0 : the next decade

BBC Mundo writes about “Educación 2.0“, noting OLPC’s programs in Latin America, Argentina’s Conectar Igualdad and Spain’s Escuela 2.0 projects. It discusses laptops, tablets, and access to knowledge online, and with a nod to the proposed full-saturation projects in South Korea and Thailand.

While there are many approaches to a connected classroom, there’s no question that this is where schools everywhere are heading. The simple question is when each system will make the transition, and at what age students will be allowed to make those connections. A more interesting one is how teaching and school systems themselves will change when the logistics of learning – and of identifying children’s talents and interests – is separated a bit more from the physical layout of schools and homes.

Sugar Day Argentina: Sept 25-26, in Junín

Reposting an invitation from SugarLabs Argentina to their first Sugar Day, in Junin, to be held September 25-26.

SugarLabs Argentina quiere hacer publico el próximo encuentro de desarrolladores de la plataforma de aprendizaje Sugar. Este evento sera realizado entre los días 25 – 26 de Septiembre del 2011 en la ciudad de Junín, provincia de Buenos Aires, Argentina.

El objetivo del encuentro es de juntarnos en una sesión de trabajo de programadores – code sprint – con la intención de escribir código, enseñar, aprender, colaborar e incentivar el desarrollo de software libre sobre Sugar en las distintas comunidades de programadores. ¡ Y por supuesto reforzar y generar nuevos lazos de amistad en esta comunidad !

La propuesta del encuentro se basa en el dictado de un taller inicial de programación en Python sobre Sugar y en el code sprint ya mencionado. Compartimos el cronograma preliminar:

— —
<Domingo 25>
11:00 – 13:00 Apertura – Discusión, pendientes y prioridades a programar en el code sprint.
13:20 – 15:00 Almuerzo.
15:30 – 20:00 Se dispondrá de un espacio para quienes quieran iniciar el code sprint.
</Domingo 25>
<Lunes 26> /*dos track en paralelo*/
Track 1
09:00 – 11:30/12:00 Taller inicial de programación en Python sobre Sugar.
Track 2
09:00 – 13:00 Code sprint.
13:20 – 14:30 Almuerzo.
15:00 – (a definir) Retomamos Code sprint.
Despedida.
</Lunes 26>
— —
El taller se realiza con el apoyo de la empresa Actvity Central.

Por ultimo, queremos difundir que durante el Viernes 23 y Sábado 24 en la misma ciudad -Junin-, el grupo de usuarios de Python Argentina -PyAr- llevara adelante la conferencia del lenguaje Python 2011. Motivo por el cual decidimos realizar nuestro evento en continuación a la PyConAr-2011

Acercarnos tus propuestas e interés en participar, para que juntos, ajustemos todos los detalles necesarios para llevar adelante y compartir entre todos este evento.

http://ar.sugarlabs.org  |   sugarday2011@ar.sugarlabs.org

Tamil Nadu seeks 6.8M laptops for older students

On June 4, the Electronics Corporation of the state of Tamil Nadu [ELCOT] floated an international tender for sourcing 912,000 laptops.Requirements include a 2.1GHz clock, 320G hard drive, 2G of RAM, 3 hour battery life, and an Intel chipset. Also required: Lin/Win dual-boot, a 36-month warranty, and managing regional repair centers across the country for 3+ years.

ELCOT tender

ELCOT tender elc58921

The Times of India reports that this is part of a long-term program to provide free laptops to 6.8M pre-college students across the state, and they are hoping for bids under $300 a unit. Unlike previous pronouncements about laptops for children, which were received much media attention with little result, this tender received comparatively little fanfare, and was focused on logistics. The tender closes in early July, and delivery is to start on September 1 of this year.

This free laptop program is a political promise made by the AIADMK party, which is currently in power. They worked through ALCOT to carry out a similar program in 2006, the Free Color Television Scheme,  which provided color televisions to every family without one (4 million in all). In response to complaints that many of these televisions turned up on a grey market, they are mandating hardware and software marking of the machines to note they are from Tamil Nadu.

The AIADMK haven’t budgeted for the program yet, however: this week their Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa petitioned the central government in New Delhi for funds to support it.

Argentina embraces OLPC, supports Bolivia

This week, Argentina’s president Cristina Kirchner oversaw the launch of the La Rioja deployment and the handout of XOs to roughly 2,000 students.  This was the public start to the 60,000-student deployment announced this spring, named the Joaquín V. González program after the distinguished politician and educator.  The program will provide an XO to every primary school student and teacher in the province by next year.

Sabrina Díaz Rato reported on the event, with shout-outs to Claudia Urrea and Martin Langhoff, who are currently in Argentina helping the learning and technical teams of the project get off to a good start. But the most interesting part of the article comes at the end, where she summarizes related efforts by Walter Flores, Argentina’s Education, Science and Technology minister.

Christina Kirchner presenting an XO to a young girl

Christina Kirchner presents an XO to a vested young girl

Flores sees La Rioja’s program becoming a model for an implementation that is interesting to other regions, and mentions some specific neighboring provinces looking for advice – the Argentine provinces of Catamarca, Corrientes, and Mendoza, Chile‘s Atacama region, and the Bolivian municipality of Yacuiba.
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Sugar and OLPC in rural Argentina

The La Rioja pilot is underway, with the first of 60,000 XOs being distributed and field reports coming in from reactivated’s Daniel Drake. Local news are reporting on the need to bring laptops to places where noone comes, and the value of Sugar to young learners.

The latest article in La Nacion includes an intro video by Ariel Torres about the OLPC project, with a nice Wikipedia cameo.