OLPC to begin in October in Fiji

The Cabinet in Fiji has approved the Ministry of Education’s ‘One Laptop per Child’ program, scheduled to begin in October according to the Fiji government online portal.

The Cabinet agreed that funding will be provided to facilitate two phases of the project. The Cabinet based its decision on a submission by the Minister for Education, National Heritage, Culture and Arts, Mr Filipe Bole.

The Pacific Island Countries Ministers of Education agreed to implement the OLPC project in 2007. In 2008, pilot programs began in Nauru, Niue, Solomon Islands, PNG and Vanuatu. The project aims to bridge the digital divide at the Primary School level as it involves children aged 6 – 8 years old.

The Minister announced that 800 laptops will be donated by the Bank of South Pacific (BSP).  The first phase of the project will be in Papua New Guinea, with three demonstration schools in the Suva area. These schools are Draiba Primary School, Nabua Sanatan Primary School and the Navesi Primary School. The schools will begin the project in October of this year.

The Minister for Education, Filipe Bole, said the program will expand to 30 schools in 2013.
“By the end of next year, we hope to have all primary schools participating in the One Laptop Per Child program. After that we will move to secondary schools,” Mr Bole said.
“This is part of Government’s efforts to reform education for all students. The Government wants to keep students at school so that they can complete their education.”

The Minister said that the project intends to promote a cultural and educational network, bringing officials from the culture, education, media and information and communication technology (ICT) sectors together to foster the inclusion of culture in education.

He said that the project compliments and enhances other ICT in Education initiatives and will help develop 21st century computer and IT skills in Fijian students. This will greatly contribute to making Fiji a Knowledge-based Society.

National education improvement, Peruvian style

Peru’s extraordinary Una Laptop por Niño program continues to lead the way for deployments around the world. Most recently, they expanded their program to 100% of Peru’s public primary schools (roughly 20,000 in all), the largest OLPC project  in the world.  On Friday Oscar Becerra, head of ULPN in Peru, reported:

Today at noon President Alan García formally inaugurated the new Ministry of Education building in Lima. The building features a monument sign at the front, crowned by an XO computer in its original green and white colors. We hope it will be a lasting memory of the outstanding contribution of OLPC to Peruvian education improvement.

Three cheers for that, and for expansion to a new building! And congratulations to Oscar and President García for leading the way in supporting education at all ages with technology and creativity, under a wide variety of conditions.  I can only hope for similar education reform to reach my own country one day soon.

OLPC in Afghanistan: Briefing Note

Part of an ongoing series on OLPC in Afghanistan.

In their recent publication “Briefing Note – One Laptop Per Child in Afghanistan,” authors Lima Ahmad (AIMS), Kenneth Adams (AIMS), Mike Dawson (PAIWASTOON), and Carol Ruth Silver (MTSA) make one thing very clear: Afghanistan requires an innovative approach to improve their education system.

“The conventional remedy of building more schools, training more teachers and providing more materials would require a six fold increase to the education budget (in the order of $1.8Bn USD per year) and would take 10-15 years to yield measurable results,” the report reads. “While a steady increase in teacher capacity and educational infrastructure is expected over time, Afghanistan does not have the luxury of waiting 15 years to produce the work force foundations for sustainable economic growth.”

Photographed by Jacob Simkin

Instead, the authors say, a more cost-effective, accelerated method lies in using OLPC’s blended learning model, which incorporates technology with teaching. If executed, in 12-18 months OLPC can more than double Afghan students’ time to learning, provide feedback on curriculum materials, and provide resources that the students wouldn’t otherwise have.

By adopting this model, OLPC can “finally give children in both mainstream and community settings sufficient learning time and support to achieve curriculum outcomes.”

Make sure to check out the rest of the report here.