Update: OLPC and Quanta have offered support to Peru to help them get new materials shipped to schools quickly. UNICEF Peru has asked national organizations to offer what help they can to allow schools to start on schedule. National newspaper El Comercio has offered to reprint the books on newsprint, quickly and at no cost, as a temporary measure — and is asking for donations of local-language educational materials to print.
A tremendous fire Thursday night in the Breña district of Lima destroyed a major warehouse of Peru’s Education Ministry, which contained $100M in materials being prepared for deployment to eastern Peru. This included a half-million books, 40,000 XOs, 21,000 other laptops for teachers, and 6,000 solar panels. The books lost included one of the country’s largest caches of early-literacy texts in indigenous languages such as Quechua and Asháninka, aimed at children from 3 to 5 years old.
The XOs were the latest part of the roughly 1 million laptops Peru has purchased for their national XO program, the world’s largest. They have been focusing on their rural and indigenous schools, such as the communities that were scheduled to receive these materials.
The disaster mainly affects the schools in east Peru, many with limited electricity, which are starting their fall semester. Peru’s Minister of Education Patricia Salas (above) talked to reporters about the loss, and President Humala said his government will make sure they deliver materials to those schools despite the fire.
“Quiero señalar que esto no va a interferir la política del Estado de cumplir un cronograma de metas, de proveer de material didáctico para los escolares … Tenemos un lote de contingencia para ir cumpliendo el cronograma.”
The fire raged for over 10 hours before being put out Friday morning, and led to two days of air-pollution alerts in the surrounding area.
This is terrible news, and our thoughts are with our friends and colleagues in Peru. Thankfully, it seems that noone was hurt.