On October 27th, 2012, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Education, Mme Sharon HABA, told the press that Rwanda is highly committed to providing each child in Rwanda with an XO laptop. The Ministry of Education recently set a goal to deliver one million (1,000,000) XO laptops to children in primary schools before 2017.
Public schools in Rwanda will be given priority in the distribution process. All students in grades P4 to P6 will be given a laptop at no cost to the child and his or her parents. Given that public schools will be given priority in the distribution process, several private schools in Rwanda decided to buy laptops directly from the government for their students.
OLPC has been providing technical support and teacher training on the process of integrating the OLPC technology into their teaching and learning environments. OLPC has also provided XO disassembly training to help repair any damaged laptop. OLPC also conducted activities with its Learning Team in the ESCAF primary school in Kigali city and in another private school, AHAZAZA, located in the southern province of Rwanda.
The OLPC Learning Team is currently conducting a one week series of sessions working with teachers and children on different project based learning activities. These sessions also provide formal training to teachers on the basics of the Sugar Learning Environment.
In these sessions, children generated many interesting project ideas. They then used their XO laptops to research and create projects which they shared with the school. They worked in groups focusing on five topics:
1. What makes different colors in the sky? It was a rainy day and the sky had lots of clouds changing from bright to dark. A group of children observed this and decided to use their laptops to research the cause. This activity led them to identify the different types of clouds and their effect on the climate.
2. Why are there differences in skin colors? In one of the schools, the school principal is European. This led children to ask, what makes that difference in skin color? They then researched this topic and found that there are biological and physical causes.
3. School Mapping: When the OLPC Learning Team traveled to one of the schools, it was difficult to get directions to the administration office. With this in mind, the children decided to create a map of the school as well as a guide so that people who visit the school can easily find different locations.
4. Why does the food we eat come out with a different color (excretions): The children wondered why the food they eat changes color at excretion. The group found out that the digestive system is the system that takes care of the food we eat. They went on to research the digestive process.
5. Soil erosion: Some children were not happy about the rain destroying their playground. They decided to design a water path and suggested the construction of it to the school principal in order to save their playground.
All of these projects were based on a real existing situation in the lives of the children. The children enjoyed working on projects of their choice.
In addition to finding areas of interest and conducting research on that particular area, the children learned many additional skills such as self-evaluation, leadership and using the XO laptop as a tool to implement their ideas.
With the presence of some of their teachers, children chose among themselves who would be the time keeper, judge, head of the group, and group leader. This allowed them to truly be in charge of their projects, and the adults served only as facilitators of this learning process.
During these sessions, children found creative ways to research and implement their ideas.
With these kind of learning sessions, children learn that the XO laptop is not only for “computer time” only but that it can serve a purpose in their daily lives.
From 5th to 7th august 2012, Rwanda held an international conference on technology in education with the theme ”Enhance Learning through Technology”. This conference took place at Kigali Serena Hotel. Professor Nicholas Negroponte (founder and chairman of One Laptop per Child); Rodrigo Arboleda (Chairman and CEO of OLPCA) and Sergio Romero (Vice President of Operations and Africa) were invited to attend this conference of technology in education.
In his presentation, Professor Nicholas Negroponte, mentioned that as you cannot compete with world food program (WFP) which feeds bodies, you cannot compete with One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) which feeds children’s brains. He also emphasized on OLPC as an educational project not a computer project as some would think. In his presentation he also talked about a research being done in Ethiopia about what could happen if technology is brought in the hands of illiterate children. “These children proved to work by themselves to use the tablets, to read and to learn.” he said.
Kagabo Callixte, a 12 years, grade six, from a local school presented his project using an XO on pollution. He used Scratch activity to describe different causes of pollution and how to prevent it. The participants were amazed and happy on how this 12 year child presented confidently in front of older people. He mentioned how the XO laptop is important to his life and how it fits in his dreams of becoming a future engineer. Watch Kagabo presentation on YouTube.
After the conference, OLPC officials, together with NKUBITO Bakuramutsa (OLPC Rwanda coordinator) went to Smaldone Primary School (a deaf and mute primary schools that use XO laptops). At the school, the officials observed how children were using the XO laptops in different activities. Children mentioned how happy they are with the laptops and thanked professor Nicholas and his excellence Paul Kagame to think about them in releasing them from loneliness. When asked by Professor Nicholas about what they could change on the XO laptop to suit their needs, the children mentioned that visual activities could be more useful since they cannot hear.
The conference was ended by a Gala dinner, where a cultural dance troupe entertained the participants, a gift of recognition was handled to professor Nicholas Negroponte as a key note speaker.
by Intwali Parfait Jimmy; OLPC technical and learning Officer
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 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.
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.
Caritas Kanizio of Rwanda’s Education Ministry distributed 500 XOs to students and teachers in Ruli Primary school in Muhanga this week. This is part of an expansion of Rwanda’s OLPC project to rural schools, which has taken some time to develop but has been in ways the most rewarding part. It has helped bridge the connectivity and technology divide within the country.
Rwanda has positioned itself as a tech-savvy hub in East Africa for some time, but rural towns have had very limited access to computers. Parents generally hope to learn about computers through their children, and the program is seen as heralding better Internet connectivity for the communities as well.
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.