Rwanda will have 200,000 children using XOs by the end of the year. They are putting the second phase of their deployment into place over the next few months, in time for the second term this year. The laptops will start to be delivered later this month.
Each participating public school – at least one per sector – will have a school server installed with mathematics, science and English software to enable teachers to teach using laptops. Two teachers at each school are taught to handle troubleshooting hardware and software. Schools with no access to electricity will continue to be connected to solar energy.
The program has been particularly popular among parents of children receiving the laptops. And private schools and individuals can buy laptops for $200 apiece.
Nkubito Bakuramutsa, the head of the initiative, said of the new schools joining the program: “I call upon parents and teachers to support the OLPC project. I am optimistic that the beneficiaries will compete favourably on the labour market after completing their studies.”
Rodrigo Arboleda spent four days in Rwanda last week with country lead Nkubito Bakuramutsa, visiting new OLPC deployments there and meeting with President Kagame and Rwandan ministers of education. He commended the Rwandan deployment’s progress so far, and the country on its focus on education as a “consolidation of peace and prosperity”.
Rwanda is the largest OLPC deployment outside of Latin America. 65,000 students and teachers have their own XOs, and another 100,000 are scheduled over the coming year.
Wadhams reported briefly on his visit to Kagugu for a short radio segment for NPR’sÂ All Things Considered. Â He gets soundbites from a student and the project coordinator, Â and notes some of the worries teachers and parents have. Â He finds a classroom dark and dirty, and asks somewhat glibly “do poor kids really need laptops?”
Meanwhile Lindner wrote a subtleÂ review of Rwanda’s development as a technological nation, for the German magazine Tagesspiegel. Â He visits Kagugu with this in mind, considering the place of technology in schools as part of Kagame’s national Vision 2020 plan. Â He interviews school director Edward Nizeymana, and visits a biology class to see how they learn together with XOs. Â They discuss the rapid growth of school attendance, changing motivations and long-term goals of the students, and the challenges teachers face adjusting to new technology and to English as a new language of instruction. Â Nizeymana says, responding to questions about whether Rwanda should invest in this way in primary education:
“The critics say that the government should first invest in drinking water or electricity. Â But that will not do. Â The world is not waiting… we have to run, do many things simultaneously.Â We can not let modern technologies wait until everyone has clean water at home. “
Rwanda aims to complete deployment of their next 100,000 children by next summer. National project coordinator Nkubito Bakuramutsa was interviewed this week for an article in the Irish Times.
They discuss recent successes and policies at the Rwandan schools that have deployed the first batch of XOs in the country. Kagame and the teachers involved are both optimistic that they will transform their society into a leader in technology advances. Kagame aims to triple the nation’s economic output over the next 10 years.