Island of teachers

Translation from the original by Jennifer Castillo Bermudez

One year ago, the Ometepe Island started a digital revolution, as the Zamora Terán Foundation delivered five thousand XO computers to all students and teachers in the 32 primary schools at the Ometepe Island. With this generous donation, Ometepe Island became the first digital island in the region.  Following this digital revolution, Ometepe now boasts a 90% student retention rate and has shown great increase in school performance.

John Martinez , 9 , is “glowing” the most. In a class of 24 students, he was the quietest of the classroom. However, when he received his XO computer, he became the ” technical advisor ” of Professor Martha Rodriguez’s classroom, in the Rigoberto Cabezas School of Ometepe Island. “Now when I am giving classes on topics, he tells me which educational app I can use to teach that kind of Spanish, Math or Science. He is outstanding,” says Rodriguez. This once quiet child was the first one in his class to learn how to use the XO.” Within a week of receiving the computer, he told me he was able to use it and he offered to help me,” says Rodriguez. According to Martinez, “She [his teacher] did not want to use the computer because she didn’t know how, and I wanted us to start using it, so after a week of having it, I learned to do it and was able to teach her how to use it.”

Since February 2012, all primary students on the Ometepe Island became teachers in the classroom. In addition, the students began to excel in competitions organized by the Ministry of Education ( MINED ) at the state and national level. “Retention rates and school performance improved. Now they all are teachers on the island because children learn quickly,” says Byron Countryman, MINED delegate on the Ometepe Island. The island has 4,512 elementary students in the two municipalities: Altagracia and Moyogalpa, according to Paisano. In just over a year, “Our students have become more active students. The boys have developed more skills and knowledge for their own learning,” says Countryman. Last year, Gabriel Alberto Muñoz was elected as the best student of Rivas and Maria Roberta Flores won one of the first places in the Reading aloud competition organized by the MINED.

The arrival of the XO computers also alleviated the need for classroom textbooks, says Jorge Luis Espinoza , director of the College Ruben Dario. Prior to the arrival of the XO computers, said Paisano, “We had an 80% shortage of books in subjects such as language arts and math. The computers have helped us to resolve this deficit.”

Professor Mirna Sevilla Romero says the incorporation of new technologies in primary education ” woke students up,” and also “demanded a  greater commitment from our teachers”. She continued, “If we, as teachers, are not familiar with technology and its use in education, our students will be far ahead of us.” “Our methods of evaluating student performance also changed because now we not only do written tests, but teachers also organize tournaments and competitions in the classroom that incorporate the computers,” says Leyla Road Barrios, director of the Rural Education Core schools Koos Koster , where 520 students study.

The children also get to use the computers outside of the classroom. “In the evenings, when I’m studying with my computer and helping my mom, I teach her, because she cannot read or write,” says John Martinez.

The Zamora Terán Foundation has invested more than $7.5 million since 2009, when it began distributing XO computers in Nicaragua. To date, over 30,000 computers have been delivered in 104 schools in the country, according to reports from the Foundation. In addition, more than 6.500 hours of teacher training has been provided . The teacher training program also provides ongoing monitoring and pedagogical support to schools.

Nicaragua: Free computers for 30,000 students

Program offers computers with educational applications to children at 104 schools in low-income neighborhoods.

By Letzira Sevilla Bolaños for Infosurhoy.com – 30/07/2013

MANAGUA, Nicaragua – At least 30,000 students from low-income neighborhoods in Nicaragua now attend school with more than just pencils, notebooks and dreams in their backpacks.

They also have computers.

Since its creation in 2009, the One Laptop per Child program, which is being carried out by theZamora Terán Foundation, has provided XO laptops to students and 900 teachers at 104 schools in low-income neighborhoods in Nicaragua.

The XO is a laptop designed specifically for learning, featuring all of the benefits of a conventional computer. It offers 52 educational activities, Internet connectivity and an internal camera, according to Félix Garrido, the director of education and operations at the Zamora Terán Foundation.

The goal is to transform education in Nicaragua, where only 56% of students finish grade school, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

Another goal is to expand public access to the Internet, given only 15% of the population of six million are connected, according to Garrido.

Nicaragua is ranked 125th among 144 countries in the capacity to utilize information technology and communications to improve the economy and the population’s well-being, according to the Global Information Technology Report 2013.

The project has helped keep children in the classroom. In 2012, the retention rate was 97.32%, according to a Zamora Terán Foundation study that was supported by the Ministry of Education. Prior to the program’s implementation, the rate was about 85%.

Julio José Ramos Mendieta, 8, calls himself a computer genius. The third-grade student at San Francisco de Asís School in Diriamba, 45 kilometers south of Managua, received an XO three years ago. It was his family’s first computer.

“I type using all of my fingers. It was hard at first, but not anymore. I practice every day,” he said. “With this computer, I can play games, read stories and do my homework. I’m also teaching my cousin, who is 5 years old. When we grow up, I want us to be able to work in an office and have computers.”

The laptop has changed the lives of all of his family members. Mendieta’s mother Bertha, 38, who has three other children, began studying and found that information in the computer’s hard drive helped her with her work.

Increasing enrollment

The San Francisco de Asís School has participated in the Zamora Terán Foundation’s program since 2010. Today, 85% of the school’s 550 students have a computer, said Martha Patricia Hernández, the school’s director.

“Enrollment is up 15% since we started providing the computers because the children get excited about receiving a device like this,” Hernández said.”[Getting a computer would be almost impossible outside the program because of how much the equipment costs in Nicaragua. The cheapest units are about US$400, which is unaffordable for most of the population.”

In Nicaragua, the minimum monthly wage in the agricultural sector is $2,421 Nicaraguan córdobas (US$95), while in construction, which offers higher salaries, it is $5,470 córdobas (US$216).

The One Laptop per Child program has been implemented in 25 countries. In Nicaragua, it has been introduced in the cities of Managua, León and Masaya. The program’s growth has been made possible through donations of more than US$6 million by 60 companies, NGOs and individuals, Garrido said.

Teachers become more tech savvy

The teachers and directors also receive an XO, allowing for more modern educational practices in the classroom because teachers can conduct research, stay updated and become more innovative, Hernández said. One of the programs is a virtual library with content related to each school subject.

“The teachers have to document their lesson plans with the XO,” Hernández said. “It’s a major challenge because some of us, due to our age and experience, struggle to use the technology.”

The XO facilitates comprehension and language skills among first-grade students using a program called Hablar con Sara (Talk to Sara). The application alerts students if the word they’ve written is wrong, simplifying the reading process, Hernández said.

Project scope and goals

Each school has a Wi-Fi connection that allows students to complete their tasks. The system is installed at no cost to the school, through agreements with Internet providers.

Teachers also work with students to bolster computer knowledge.

While Garrido said officials are pleased with the results, he acknowledged that the job has just started, as officials want to give all of the country’s 600,000 grade school students an XO.

 

Zamora Teran Foundation collaborating with the project in Honduras

IMG_2044The Zamora Teran Foundation is collaborating with the 1:1 project in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. They recently received a message from a representative of the M. of Education in Honduras:

…Extend our appreciation to the Zamora Terán Family, who have spared no effort and willingness to contribute to the education of our children, their expressions of solidarity really invite other entrepreneurs to share with a cheerful heart.

We pray to our Creator blessings multiply and widen your heart every day but to share with the less fortunate.

IMG_2189

Definitely an example to be followed by others…

 

3,000 more kids with XO laptops in Nicaragua

Ciudad Sandino, Managua, Nicaragua – Thursday, April 4, 2013. The Zamora Teran Foundation delivered about 3,000 laptops to elementary students as part of the One Laptop per Child Program.

Zamora Terán Foundation delivered 3000 computers to the same number of children of 10 public schools in Ciudad Sandino as part of its “One Laptop per Child”.

According to the president of this organization, Josefina Maria Teran, with this delivery  30,000 children across the country already have their own XO computer to facilitate their learning process.

In total 101 schools across the country have benefited from this project. The program includes training for teachers on issues of educational innovation to improve the learning process. Besides, 108 teachers from schools in Ciudad Sandino also received their XO computer, a tool that promotes a change in the teaching-learning process.

Thus Ciudad Sandino became, according to Zamora Terán Foundation, the first community in the department of Managua digital. In the rest of the year they expect to deliver 10,000 more computers throughout the municipality.

Teacher from Nicaragua shares her experience with the XO

My name is Reyna Flores. I teach a combination of multigrade grades third through sixth at the little school Miguel Larreynaga in Tipitapa.

I hope that, like me, other teachers could have the opportunity to have the XO valuable pedagogical tool for improving the education of our children.

When working with the XO I tell my students that this computer is our “green little friend.” It includes great applications we call activities. We use them in any subject, and something else… We already have Internet! which allows us to enter the world of information.

Now, I want to share the pedagogical aspect in class:

As I teach four grades, the XO has been very important to increase the ammount of information, documents and materials that reinforce learning. I used to have difficulties when I taught geometrical bodies to third graders because there are children who have no geometric kits, then the activity called Paint Activity allows them to draw them.

When learning language arts, we use information obtained from Wikipedia and the children of the upper grades elaborate didactic schemes with the Maze activity as an alternative to reading techniques.

In physical education a stopwatch is needed to record the time-distance speed according to each student’s age. The XO has one.

In cultural and artistic expression we have no access to a marimba or the sounds that the student must know so here we come to the TamTamMini activity.

In science class, using the Record activity, children make their community tours taking pictures of what they believe is part of the environment and even pollution issues.

I also believe that the XO supports students who have some learning difficulties. For example, a child in third grade had pronunciation problems with the consonants L and R, so I asked him to write a list of words using the Sara activity, this way, the student could improve his diction.

At the end of each period, children take their homework and they relax with activities and Games that help them increase skills and mental agility.

Courage, dear colleagues! Let work for the children in Nicaragua. Lets focus on endeavor, affection, good will and the mystique that has always characterized teachers.

I invite other teachers to participate in the column “Teachers speak” because we must all learn from others’ experiences.

* Teacher at Miguel Larreynaga school, Tipitapa.

Latin Business Chronicle champions businesses supporting ed reform, citing OLPC Nicaragua

Gabriel Sanchez Zinny writes about how businesses in Latin America are seeing education reform as essential to local growth, and starting to invest in it.  They make some thoughtful comments about our work with Zamora Teran in Nicaragua and the current work in Ometepe:

In Latin America, education reform – when it has even broken onto the political agenda – has long been seen as a stereotypical battle between the free-market right wing and the powerful, entrenched teachers unions. Now, however, a consensus seems to be growing, with leaders from across the ideological spectrum throwing their weight behind reform. In country after country, Latin American businesses are teaming up with NGOs and governments to deliver better educational outcomes.

In Nicaragua, the influential Zamora clan (one of the “twelve families” that have played an outsized role in the nation’s history) has teamed up with the non-profit group One Laptop Per Child to provide thousands of Nicaraguan schoolchildren with access to the internet for the first time. The Fundacion Zamora Teran is largely funded by the Roberto Zamora-owned Lafise Bancentro – a regional investment group worth over $600 million – and has handed out a total of 35,000 laptops in Nicaragua, with a donation most recently of 5,000 units to the island of Ometepe, making it the “first fully digitized island in Latin America”.

1 in 20 Latin American children use an OLPC laptop

There are roughly 58 million primary school students in Latin America, according to UNESCO’s latest data from their Education For All initiative.   5% of children in that age range are not in school.  And 5% of them use XOs: 1.5 million children have their own, and Peru’s urban initiative is giving another 1.5 million students in urban schools access to XOs through a program where groups of 3-5 students share a laptop.

 

Today 4/5 of these students are in Uruguay, Peru, Argentina, and Mexico.   But new programs are growing rapidly, in NicaraguaCosta RicaColombia, and elsewhere.

That’s a lot of budding Pythonistas, Scratcheros, and Linux users!
Now if only my own home country would start providing computers and connectivity to its students as a matter of course…

Michele Borba interviews children, parents and teachers in Nicaragua

Dr. Michele Borba, the inspiring parenting and educational consultant who has been working recently with OLPC, travelled to Nicaragua with Rodrigo and the deployment last week for the Ometepe project launch.  She writes, “[We] looked like a mini-United Nations representing Germany, Argentina, Italy, Colombia, Denmark, Honduras, the Dominican Republic, Bosnia, South Korea, Belgium, India and the U.S. We were teachers, bankers, doctors, writers, embassy representatives, lawyers, and businessmen, but we all shared a commonality knowing that something immensely significant was about to happen on that Island, and could feel it the moment we walked onto a huge field.

She also visited a school that has been part of an existing OLPC project near Managua for over a year, and wrote about the history of the program there.

The first delivery of XO laptops to Nicaragua was in 2009, and the impact is already evident. Statistics show a 40% reduction in drop-outs, a decrease in retention and in violence. Best yet, parents are starting to come to the schools to be involved in their children’s learning, and the teachers recognize those laptops are affecting their teaching!

I visited a small rural primary school (San Francisco de Asís) outside of Managua using XO laptops since November 2010. There is now full OLPC school saturation. Positive changes are clearly apparent: the parents are more involved in their children’s education; there has been a high increase in school registration; and student learning is increasing, and here’s why.

The teachers were all trained by OLPC and continue with monthly staff development training.

Each computer is equipped with grade-level texts including natural science, geography, geometry, Nicaraguan history and culture, a dictionary, and Wikipedia, books (“Mine has Harry Potter!” one boy exclaimed), as well as programs that encourage children’s creativity, music and art. Teachers report that students are now far more engaged in learning. Parents say their kids are using the computers to continue learning at home.

Over the next hours I observed various teaching lessons using the XOs. Sixth graders working in base teams to learn how to mind-map different types of calendars (Mayan, Greco, Julian). Third graders paired with partners to identify bird species. First graders were learning how to use the XO drawing program and discovering beginning programming skills. Fourth graders were mentoring younger students…

Dr. Borba also spent some time talking to students and teachers outside of class:

[A ten-year old] told me that her computer has “greatly advanced my learning… Yesterday I learned about industrial agriculture. Tomorrow I’ll be giving a presentation in my classroom about farming techniques.” She added that her favorite laptop activity at home is doing research on Wikipedia. Her goal, she said, is to become an engineer. I have no doubt that she will.

The whole story is posted on her children and parenting blog.

Ometepe, Nicaragua: una Mágica Isla Digital

Ometepe, Nicaragua is a legendary and extraordinary place: a double-volcano island that has maintained its community and culture fairly distinct from the country around them. Daniel Drake and others have been helping them realize Nicaragua’s latest deployment (past coverage), thanks to the ongoing work of Fundación Zamora Teran, connecting every child on the island to the Internet and to eachother. After its public launch last week, Rodrigo shared this beautiful and inspiring report from the island (pdf).

En el corazón de Nicaragua, y en medio del lago del mismo nombre, el lago más grande de América Latina, millones de años atrás una erupción volcánica formó una curiosa isla compuesta por dos volcanes, uno de ellos activo aún. El nombre indígena, Ometepe, significa precisamente dos montañas. Con 245 km2, constituye la isla de agua dulce más grande de las Américas. Declarada como una de las maravillas naturales del mundo por la ONU, ciertamente posee cierto aire paradisíaco, tropical, exuberante, mágico, como un set de película. Sus 50,000 habitantes, indígenas en un 90%, vivieron hasta hace menos de una generación en un oscurantismo medieval, una especie de parque jurásico, donde ningún habitante sabía leer o escribir. El día de ayer, en un espectacular y malabárico salto de la rana, Ometepe se convirtió de repente en la primera isla de las Américas totalmente digital, donde el 100% de sus 5,000 niños de escuela primaria y la totalidad de sus docentes, recibieron uno de nuestros laptops XO, conectado al Internet de alta velocidad y con las aplicaciones pedagógicas inherentes.

Llegamos a Ometepe acompañando una comitiva de empresarios no solo de Nicaragua sino de todo Centro América y de representantes de organismos multilaterales, ONGs, medios de comunicación internacionales y funcionarios del gobierno, interesados todos en ver por si mismos lo que la fundación Zamora Teran viene haciendo en Nicaragua.

Fundada por el banquero Roberto Zamora y por su esposa Maria Josefina Teran, han logrado en menos de 30 meses una transformación educacional y al mismo tiempo una buena aplicación del concepto de filantropía transformadora, sin precedentes. De su propio bolsillo y con aportaciones recientes de clientes, personas naturales y hasta de un país, Dinamarca, han logrado ya entregar 28,000 laptops en varias regiones de critica pobreza en este país, de por si uno de los más pobres de las américas. Como si fuera poco, anunciaron que aspiran a implementar 500,000 unidades, es decir el 100% de los niños de primaria de Nicaragua, incluyendo discapacitados mentales (autismo, síndrome de Dawn), discapacitados visuales o físicos (ver foto) antes del 2015! Al ver lo que han logrado en estos 30 meses, no me queda la menor duda de que lo lograrán.


Para llegar a la isla hay que tomar primero un bus por más de dos horas hasta llegar a uno de los varios puertos en las riberas del lago. Luego, un Ferry que tiene varias frecuencias de viaje por día, se tarda otras dos horas para llegar al puerto de Ometepe. Desde la distancia, se vislumbran las siluetas de los dos volcanes como guardianes de un ecosistema de exuberancia tropical que necesita cariñosa vigilancia. Carreteras adoquinadas evocan épocas pasadas y al mismo tiempo entrevén aplicaciones prácticas de adaptación a los continuos movimientos telúricos. Los adoquines son más flexibles y se acomodan ejerciendo una labor de amortiguación cuando la madre tierra manifiesta su vitalidad y fortaleza con unos terremotos como el de 1972 que destruyó Managua. Tierra fértil por ser conformada por cenizas volcánicas, la agricultura y el turismo constituyen las principales fuentes de ingresos de sus habitantes. El clima es un poco más benigno que el de Managua, conocida por su calor asfixiante, pues las laderas de los dos volcanes producen corrientes de aire que refrescan un poco el ambiente.

La paradoja consiste en que los niños de esta población estarían marcados a seguir la suerte de sus ancestros, agricultores artesanales de pequeños minifundios con costumbres milenarias pre-colombinas pero que precisamente dichas culturas estarían en vías de extinción por pura inercia. El traer estas culturas a la modernidad, lejos de acabar con ellas, ofrece una oportunidad de poderlas difundir y compartir, como ya estamos haciendo con casos similares en Mexico y Perú.

Convencidos de que la única solución a ese circulo vicioso destructivo es la educación, el matrimonio Zamora Teran decidió embarcarse en esta misión de rescate de las juventudes Nicaraguenses para lo cual adoptaron el proyecto One Laptop Per Child como vehículo de cambio educacional y de inclusión social y económica.

Meses de preparación previa con los docentes, padres de familia y algunos estudiantes claves, garantizan que inmediatamente recibidos estos laptops podrán comenzar a producir el cambio de paradigma educativo y social buscados.

Varios conceptos básicos hacen esto posible… Continue reading

Nicaragua: Fundación Zamora Terán expands to the legendary island of Ometepe

Fundación Zamora Terán recently expanded the work of OLPC Nicaragua to include the community on the beautiful and legendary Ometepe, an island formed by the two volcanoes rising out of Lake Nicaragua.



Teachers play a key role in the use of the XO laptop, incorporating it into daily planning and classroom activities. Maria Josefina Terán Zamora, its founder, said of their new island initiative:

During the past two years, we’ve been working hard to ensure that our OLPC project is one of the best in the world and delivers the maximum benefit to our children. Today we are very happy to include the children of Ometepe and connect them to the rest of Nicaragua and to the world.

The Fundación coordinates and executes XO purchase logistics and installation and provides a high level of technical support. A pedagogical training plan has been developed with the support of a qualified educational team that facilitates the integration of the XO into the existing Ministry of Elementary School Education Curriculum. Schools participating in the OLPC project must meet specific selection criteria.

The Ometepe initiative has been supported particularly by contribution from the LAFISE-BANCENTRO Bank, and brings to 25,000 the number of XOs distributed to children in schools across the country.

You can read the official press release.


Nicaragua begins a new phase of implementation

Earlier this week, the municipality of Bluefields in Northeast Nicaragua received 7,500 XOs from the Fundación Zamora Terán. These were distributed to all primary teachers and children in the rural community, which is a mix of Miskito, Mestizo, Rama, Garifona, and Creole families.

Roberto and MaryJo Zamora, the husband and wife owners of LAFISE-BanCentro bank, founded the Zamora-Teran Foundation last year to train teachers and students involved in the OLPC projects in the country, and to distribute and manage the logistics and telecommunication infrastructure of the project. This is an extraordinary example of a private sector, non-profit entity helping to motivate their country by example, in launching a project like this — and we are lucky to be working with such a skilled and dedicated regional partner.

Thousands of students at the handout ceremony

Students at the handout ceremony

This marks the first regional saturation in the country, in an already remarkable community — they already have a thriving Bluefields forum online covering everything from art to civic development. Nicaragua may well become the next educational success story in Latin America.

2010 Internships open in Rwanda, Paraguay, Peru, Nicaragua

The OLPC Association is pleased to announce new internship opportunities for the coming year.  Country support interns will support an established deployment for 3 to 12 months, in one of four countries: Rwanda, Paraguay, Peru, or Nicaragua.


Learning outside in Peru

Learning outside with an intern teaching assistant in 2009


Support interns serve a vital role in building local capacity of partnering countries and organizations.  Innovators in business, engineering, social sciences, computer science, and public relations will be paired with experts in local knowledge and community building.  Teams will work alongside local school children, teachers, community members, and government officials to accelerate each country toward their long-term goals for education development.   Projects range from technical infrastructure support and local software design to advocacy and classroom assistance.  Internships are open to students over the age of 18.

There are also internship opportunities in grant writing and foundation outreach.  These interns will work remotely, conducting research and working with country deployments to formulate and submit grant proposals.  These are unpaid internships, with possible opportunities to travel to partnering countries.

Apply for an internship online, or find out more about the program.

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