Tim Falconer, back from his recent tour of his partner schools in Haiti, makes the case for focusing on learning in Haiti, rather than physical schools. This is not to say that schools aren’t important — when a community needs a central place for scores of children and teachers to gather, study, or break bread, clearly they need a comfortable space if not an entire school. But Tim notes out that many children never go to school. Ever. He asks:
[In Haiti] why are we still talking about building schools? Why aren’t we talking about training adults to use laptops instead of chalkboards? Why aren’t the teachers going to the children, to teach in small local groups?
I would like to see recent data on this that consolidates private and public school information; but it’s fair to say more than half of all school-age children are not in school at a given time. (I am reminded for a moment of the remarkable UNICEF game Ayiti: the Cost of Life , which deserves more development and attention.) If you have thoughts on home schooling, or community schooling and mentorship, stop by and leave him a comment.
UPDATE: Both made it back, after spending one of their weekends helping clean up after a fall storm. They managed to visit a number of schools and some of the groups that Waveplace and Haiti Partners are working with.
Mr. Holt and Tim Falconer are currently in Haiti, where they will be for the next ten days. Tim has been writing about their eventful travels, with more to come – see the waveplace blog for the illustrated story.
The latest issue of the new OLPC newsletter is out. I’m trying out different layouts for an archive, including having select past stories show up each week at the end.
As always, feedback on design and story selection are welcome. Current requests include a way to browse the newsletter online without leaving some sort of story navigation (with some sort of floating TOC?)
For the early-Feb edition we will try to gather & discuss stories and images in advance in the OLPC newsroom. Please submit your muck-raking, globe-trotting, xo-loving ideas and links there.
Haiti has been devastated by the recent earthquake. Official estimates are that 110,000 people died and in the Port-au-Prince area, 75% of schools were destroyed. We are exploring what we can to support the children and schools we have been working with there. People on the ground in Haiti urgently need sanitation, water, food, and shelter.
Please consider donating to one of these aid groups working on essential services on the ground:
* World Food Program
* Partners In Health
We are doing what we can for the 60 schools that we have been working with in Haiti – primarily planning for the spring after the first phase of rebuilding is underway. We will be sending a group of OLPCorps volunteers to Haiti later this year, and are organizing a used XO drive to recover XOs that can be refurbished and sent to Haiti. Luckily, our Haitian team (technical and in the government) was not hurt in the earthquake, and they are planning to help displaced students get back to school as quickly as possible.
Meanwhile, around the US, people (including our own Adam Holt and Tim Falconer) have been gathering in CrisisCamps to brainstorm ways to better use collaborative technology to help groups on the ground. If you are technically-minded, there is a real demand for programmers and interface designers to help some of these projects thrive.
We’re incredibly excited to announce the 2010 OLPCorps program. This year, university students and young adults will have opportunities to support OLPC deployments in one of five regions: Haiti, Mali, Cameroun, Afghanistan, and the Palestinian Occupied Territories.
Installing solar panels in Kenya with OLPCorps
We saw the passion and skills of university students in our 2009 Corps program, and restructured it to extend the program and focus on a smaller number of countries. This will allow applicants to make a bigger contribution to our mission of creating educational opportunities for the world’s poorest children.
OLPCorps applicants must now commit to a full year, and applications are open to college students and young adults over the age of 18. We’re looking for passionate people who can work independently in challenging environments. Participants will engage in capacity building projects ranging from technical infrastructure support and local software design to advocacy, classroom assistance, administration, and strategy design. Successful applicants will receive a stipend. You can apply for the Corps online now.
For students looking for opportunities in established OLPC deployments or for shorter periods of time, applications for this year’s Internship Program are also available.
As 10 million post-Earthquake Haitians struggle to survive, then make sense of their flattened communities and missing infrastructure, OLPC’s community-driven Contributors Program is working with the US Naval Postgraduate School’s Hastily Formed Networks Research Group’s Humanitarian Aid/Disaster Relief project (blog) — and Sahana, an award-winning Free and Open Source Disaster Management System inspired by 2004’s Indian Ocean Tsunami — to support their Haiti response.
Shaking intensity from the earthquake
We want free ruggedized XO Laptops running Linux (with Wifi, browser, kids’ learning activities and a whole lot more) to go to aid/reconstruction groups who quickly explain to us their need. We’re in discussions with 5 so far, but want you to help us find many more aid/reconstruction groups and initiatives that can leverage our work. Supplies are limited, but we will do our human best to consider all genuinely committed groups — please request/explain your need today at: email@example.com
Note Full Applications will be processed more quickly.
Free solar-charging backpacks are also currently available independently from: firstname.lastname@example.org ! (for more intensive uses, please consider other alternative energy approaches)
Thanks for spreading the word — please find your own way to help Haitians into the new decade, building a whole new country.