Rwandan OLPC mentors: students with business cards

Back in May, we held an international Scratch Day event in our office called “Rwandese Kids Scratching their Communities.” This event had local students familiar with Scratch, an interactive programming activity on the XO laptop, planning and holding their own workshop. They taught teachers, family members and anyone else who came how to create Scratch projects.

This day was open to all and many new children found their way into our offices to learn more about Scratch and the XO laptop. Two such boys were Joseph (grade 3, 10 yrs old) and Erize (grade 2, 11 yrs old).

In the months that followed, Joseph and Erize kept coming to our offices (near
their houses) to use the laptops. During this time, they not only mastered use of the laptop, they spread word to their friends, and now help and guide other children who have begun coming to the office. Their homes have become popular places with family and friends coming each night to learn more and use the laptops.

The boys had been reserved and quiet, but are now outgoing and confident. Their English has expanded from a few sentences to conversational in just a few weeks. It is clear their work with the laptop has empowered them. They are so happy to be involved with OLPC, that they have each created their own business card and tell everyone in the neighborhood that they work for OLPC!

Joseph and Erize, on their own, chronicled through pictures an afternoon of themselves and their families at home with their laptops:

The case for learning, with or without school

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.