OLPC Rwanda has been named to the scientific subcommittee of the International Conference on Technology in Education, organized by the Rwandan Education Ministry and Education Board. The conference will take place in early 2012. Great to hear; let us know when the call for papers is out!
OLPC Rwanda, which is planning to expand their OLPC deployment to 160,000 children and teachers by next summer, has been talking more about their work and interviewing those currently involved. Africa Online has been running a series on OLPC over the past two weeks, including a recent article on XO use in schools in Kigali.
Nkubito Bakuramutsa, OLPC project coordinator at the Rwandan Education Ministry, talked to the Rwanda New Times this week about the first 10,000 students and teachers who had received laptops through the country’s OLPC program. Rwanda is on track to distribute XOs to 50,000 students by the end of the year, with another 50,000 following soon after.
The national deployment team recently finished setting up their software build, and is now flashing 2,000 XOs a day. This is a good milestone for the team — learning how to rebuild all parts of the system on their own is important, and as Zehra can attest the first time you get a NANDBlast production line up and running is memorable.
The schools are including materials from OLPC, Sugar Labs, India’s Azim Premji Foundation, the National Curriculum Development Centre, and the Rwanda Education Commons, with customization help from Microsoft and Rwanda’s Green Hills Academy network of schools.
OLPC Rwanda organized a capacity-building workshop for 300 teachers this week. The school-head and one lead teacher from each of 150 schools attended. The GC4LL blog has a detailed writeup. I like this quote in particular, since passing on the ideas behind our core principles takes time:
They also are going to learn about the two main points of the OLPC implementation: one laptop per each child and children take laptops home. Those two points are always controversial and it is very important that school’s principals understand the underlining logic behind them. It the school management buy the concept, the success chances of the project in the school increase significantly.
Juliano Bittencourt, who spent a year in Rwanda with his wife, recently posted a lovely email about Rwanda developments to the OLPC Brasil mailing list.
He points to Silvia Kist’s personal blog (in Portuguese) as a source for more information about the work there, along with the ‘laptop learning’ photostream.
Julia has posted a half-dozen recent updates to her excellent Rwanda blog, about her work, thoughts on access to knowledge, and efforts with the Kigali Institute of Education. She includes some interesting photos of students showing off their Etoys storybooks and drawings.
She also reminded me of the CMU student group that visited Nonko School last month to run classroom workshops – an interesting model of community service.
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, 2009 — One 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.”