OLPC Rwanda: building a platform for expression for the whole community

In an Op-Ed in Uganda’s Independent, Andrew Mwenda notes that Rwanda has set itself apart from its neighboring countries in almost every field; including with its tremendous fiberoptic network and olpc laptop program. “building one of the most promising platforms of democratic expression”. He notes:

Kagame has predicated his presidency on performance by his government. Hence, the delivery of public goods and services to all its citizens regardless of their station in life… It is Kagame’s political genius and greatest achievement and is unrivalled in post-independence Africa. But equally it is the greatest source of frustration among elites.

The article is worth a read.

Meanwhile, Rodrigo is in Rwanda this week to thank President Kagame for his amazing work in supporting OLPC for all children in the country, and to learn from the program there.

OLPC Rwanda Report: Transforming society through access to modern education

As we mentioned yesterday, OLPC Rwanda now has an excellent project summary (pdf) online. It covers the first three years of the national initiative and the related development of Rwanda’s primary schools.

The report captures the spirit and challenges of country-wide change. It addresses the major phases of the project, and the background in government policy and vision, without diving into too much detail.

 

A recent teacher's workshop in Rulindo, Rwanda

A summary, to whet your appetite:

In 2000, under the leadership of President Paul Kagame, Rwanda established 20-year objectives to transform the country into an industrial/service-based economy. This VISION 2020 plan specifies short-, medium- and long-term goals with measurable indicators of progress.

The plan relies on six pillars, the second being human resource development & a knowledge-based economy, and three horizontal areas, the third being science & technology.

In 2001, only one of the country’s 2,300 primary schools had any computers at all.  By 2005, 1,138 schools had at least one PC, 40 schools in Kigali had Internet access, and connectivity was being rolled out to other schools.  Over 1,000 teachers had been trained in computer literacy, from 120 primary schools.

Rwanda announced in January 2007 it would work with One Laptop per Child.  In 2008, it received 10,000 XOs [thanks primarily to our generous donors and the G1G1 program].

In early 2010, the government purchased 65,000 XO laptops so that schools in every school district could begin receiving laptops for P4-P6 students. This purchase was financed by the sale of cellular licenses to Tigo and Korea Telecom, working with the government to extend broadband connectivity nationwide.  They have since purchased another 35,000 XOs, and plan to deploy another 400,000 over the next 5 years. Today the program has a 27-person core team, plus 5 staff from OLPC, working on the project.

The Ministry of Education started with 150 schools, and asked the headmaster and a teacher of their choice to come to Kigali for one week of intensive training. They subsequently spent four days at each school to work with the teachers and students, and one day for community awareness meetings.

Ministry representatives held meetings with local Parent Teacher Associations and local authorities, explaining how laptops would be integrated into the classroom. They also went on radio and TV and write newspaper articles to discuss the project.

 

Parents at a PTA meeting introducing the XO

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Rodrigo visits Kagame, commends Rwandan progress

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.

New OLPC Rwanda site

OLPC Rwanda has recently spruced up their website, including a list of documents they use for running classes with XOs, and links to their active local blogs.   They’ve also started their own twitter stream – where you can follow Rodrigo’s current visit with Kagame and the national team.   You can sign up to volunteer from afar, and can leave them feedback via twitter, or on Julia’s or Rwagaju’s blogs.

 

Rwanda’s broadband is 3rd fastest in Africa

A recent report ranks Rwanda’s broadband connectivity speeds third on the continent, ahead of its neighbors in East Africa.  This seems to be changing rapidly; I recall that just over a year ago, when we hosted the OLPCorps summit in Kigali, it was difficult for attendees to find hotspots to upload videos of any length.

Rwanda keeps on surprising its neighbors.  It intends to be an ICT hub for the region, and is moving in that direction full speed.  Kudos to Kagame and his young crew for making that dream real, year by  year.

How classroom XOs can help Rwanda’s economy

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.

OLPC learning center opens in Kigali; Kagame presides over ceremony

This summer, OLPC is starting two projects in Africa.  One is OLPCorps, which we have covered over the past few months and which you will be hearing a great about from the participants themselves.  The other is the founding of a learning center that has just been founded at the Kigali Institute for Science, Technology and Management [KIST].  As part of this process, the OLPC learning team, including David Cavallo and Juliano Bittencourt, have been in Kigali for some time, laying the groundwork for this week’s public launch.  President Kagame himself came to open the center — here is the official press announcement:

LAUNCHED IN RWANDA BY HIS EXCELLENCY PAUL KAGAME, THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF RWANDA

OLPCorps Teams to Assist in Providing New Educational Opportunities in 17 Countries in Sub-Saharan Africa

Kigali, Rwanda, June 9, 2009One Laptop per Child (OLPC), a nonprofit organization whose mission is to help provide every child in the world with access to a modern education, in collaboration with the Government of Rwanda, is launching in Kigali, Rwanda, a Global Center for Excellence in Laptops and Learning. The purpose of the Center is to create the highest quality examples of learning with connected laptops in schools and communities, support ongoing laptop implementation plans in Rwanda, and create an African regional laptop network.

Leading the world in exemplifying laptops for learning, Rwanda is the natural base for this new center. The government of Rwanda has committed to providing all 2.2 million of its primary school children with laptops by 2012 and to serving as a model for other countries to copy, improve and further innovate. The Center also will develop senior fellows, community learning specialists and technology specialists who will return to their countries to lead efforts nationally, regionally and locally to extend laptop learning programs.

OLPC has experienced great success when support for our mission comes from both the government (top down) as well as from grassroots (bottom up),” said Nicholas Negroponte, founder and chairman of One Laptop per Child. “The partnership with Rwanda represents a substantial commitment by both OLPC and Rwanda to bring learning to the grassroots and country level, which is exactly where it should be.”

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