South Africa: Building grassroots support for access to a modern education

As noted last week, Jackie Lustig has compiled a report from our South African projects. It draws on background data from the country, and highlights work done there over the past four years.

Starting with a gift of 100 laptops from donors on Boston, and expanding through the interest of a number of OLPCorps projects in 2008, South Africa has expanded its OLPC community to almost 1500 students and teachers today.


OLPC South Africa case study, 2008-2012

(This is an 8MB pdf, so may take a moment to load)

Princeton-Engineers Without Borders collab grows in Ghana

Separate from the national program being rolled out in Eastern Ghana, Princeton University has a student-run Ghana School Library Initiative which is building a physical library in Ghana stocked with books and OLPCs.    This program started in 2008, and is one of three projects coordinated by the Princeton University chapter of Engineers Without Borders. They shared an update with East Coast OLPCers this Spring, and have been writing about their new milestones this summer, as the library nears completion.

 

After some work earlier this year to repair and update some donated XOs, children have started working with their own laptops at the EP Basic school in Ashaiman, Ghana, where the team is working. They recently completed a week of physical construction and two classes a day with the students.   The classes included working on educational activities with the children in Sugar, “to whet their appetites” to use the XOs more on their own.

A classroom in São Tomé e Príncipe

It’s 8am on Saturday morning, and 100 students and five teachers sweat in a single classroom. Most likely, there is no energy today, but with luck, students come to class with their computers fully charged from another neighborhood. In a concrete room with one door, the students spend hours working on their bright green XOs. The sounds: typing and talking.  And laughter.

Students working on XOs outside in Sao Tome

Students working on XOs outside in Sao Tome

This is the scene in São Tomé e Príncipe, a two-island nation of about 160,000 off the west coast of Africa, near Gabon and Nigeria, at the São João Secondary School. The school received 100 XOs in the summer of 2009 through an OLPCorps team of students and professors from the University of Illinois.  It now runs XO classes for its sixth grade students with help from Beth Santos and a local organization called STeP UP (São Tomé e Príncipe Union for Promotion).  The XOs at the school are  quite popular – the program has been covered by local and national news networks.  You can see pictures of the project and find other São Tomé-related links at the Sao Tome Blog.

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Newsletter, take 2: update for January 25

The latest issue of the new OLPC newsletter is out. I’m trying out different layouts for an archive, including having select past stories show up each week at the end.

As always, feedback on design and story selection are welcome. Current requests include a way to browse the newsletter online without leaving some sort of story navigation (with some sort of floating TOC?)

For the early-Feb edition we will try to gather & discuss stories and images in advance in the OLPC newsroom.  Please submit your muck-raking, globe-trotting, xo-loving ideas and links there.

January 25, 2010
About the OLPCorps program OLPCorps 2010:

apply now

2010 Internships: in Rwanda, Paraguay, and Peru Summer and year-long internships available
OLPC for Haiti Support relief efforts in Haiti OLPC in rural Peru New video:

XO is for Hope

2010 OLPCorps opportunities available

We’re incredibly excited to announce the 2010 OLPCorps program.  This year, university students and young adults will have opportunities to support OLPC deployments in one of five regions: Haiti, Mali, CamerounAfghanistan, and the Palestinian Occupied Territories.

Installing solar panels

Installing solar panels in Kenya with OLPCorps

We saw the passion and skills of university students in our 2009 Corps program, and restructured it to extend the program and focus on a smaller number of countries.  This will allow applicants to make a bigger contribution to our mission of creating educational opportunities for the world’s poorest children.

OLPCorps applicants must now commit to a full year, and applications are open to college students and young adults over the age of 18. We’re looking for passionate people who can work independently in challenging environments. Participants will engage in capacity building projects ranging from technical infrastructure support and local software design to advocacy, classroom assistance, administration, and strategy design.  Successful applicants will receive a stipend.   You can apply for the Corps online now.

For students looking for opportunities in established OLPC deployments or for shorter periods of time, applications for this year’s Internship Program are also available.

OLPCorps in Rwandan schools, Part 3: EPAK and Kicukiro

This is final part of a 3-part series on the initial learning workshops in Kigali, Rwanda,  focusing on EPAK and Kicukiro schools.

EPAK:
EPAK is located in Kigali. The school has a total of 420 XO laptops, 350 were given by the government; another 70 laptops were given by international humanitarian organization, Right to Play. There are 680 students and 15 teachers. So that each student at the school has access, students in the morning  session will share their laptop with students in the afternoon session. Laptops were first dispersed during the OLPCorps training. 15 OLPCorps members and Paul Commons, Reuben Caron, and David Cavallo of OLPC led the distribution and training sessions.

On day one, the team prepped by discussing a variety of issues which were likely to emerge, such as language barriers, how to address concerns of integrating the laptops into the curriculum, etc.  Teams touched upon each issue individually and designed approaches based on this discussion.  For language, a majority of the translation was led by Kaçandre Bourdelais from Laval University.  However, during the individual training sessions, French speakers were assigned to a separate teacher to manage translation. The training provided mostly individual attention on programs that teachers wished to explore in more depth.  Teachers varied in the activities they explored, from Measure and Scratch to Turtle Art.  Later that afternoon, the same teachers were seen explaining what they had learned to their students and how they’ll have the same opportunity the following week.

Day two began by reflashing and NAND blasting several hundred laptops before distribution–only to find out halfway though that the image file was corrupt.  As a result, the majority of the morning was spent installing the latest build.  By lunch time, however, all EPAK’s classes had laptops.  One particular lesson Corps teams took from this experience was the variety of teaching styles carried out in the classroom.  Some teachers, like P1, preferred more strict, instructional techniques, a few teachers valued individual exploration, and others attempted group work.  Unfortunately, unexpected power issues at the school forced us to stop by late afternoon.

Kicukiro:
Kicukiro Primary School is located in Kigali. There are a total of 3242 students, 44 teachers and 780 laptops. These laptops will be distributed after July holidays, so that each child has access, the Headmaster has decided that each classroom will have 20 laptops per classroom. The headmaster Felix says that “kids left their old schools to come here because they heard we would have laptops.”

OLPCorps students working with teachers at Kicukiro Primary School (Photo courtesy Michael Stein)
OLPCorps students working with teachers at Kicukiro Primary School (Photo courtesy Michael Stein)

Language was the main hurdle here.  More photos and conclusions after the jump.

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OLPCorps in Rwandan schools, Part 2: Kagugu and Nonko

This is part two of a post about school sessions during the 30 OLPCorps teams’ two-week training in Kigali, Rwanda with members of the OLPC Center for Laptops & Learning and Rwanda’s RITC/OLPC Core Team.

The workshop brought OLPCorps teams to five Rwandan schools with XO laptops; the following is a brief synopsis of the trainings in two of the schools, Kagugu and Nonko:

Kagugu Primary School:
This is known as the best public school in Rwanda. The school is located in Kigali and has a total of 3020 laptops and 3242 students (P1 students share laptops), and 47 teachers. The school has Internet access. Students do not currently take their laptops home. Julia Reynolds of the OLPC Learning Team, Epimaque TWAGIRIMANA Leader of the Rwanda Core Team, Core Team technical members Basil IRENE MASEVELIO, John-Marie NYIRINKWAYA, and 30 OLPCorps members conducted the training at Kagugu. Both days were focused on teachers.

So all 47 teachers could participate, they were arranged into 3 different groups, each with 2-hour training sessions. The first day, teachers were introduced to Scratch. It was their first time using Scratch because the laptops were just recently reflashed to a newer software build. After a basic introduction, teachers were asked to take a picture of any object or scenery in the school yard, and import this picture into Scratch and tell a story about the picture. The teachers, with the assistance of OLPCorps members, used sound, images and animation to tell their stories. At the end of the session, teachers shared their work with the larger group to supportive applause.

The second day, teachers sat with OLPCorps members in smaller groups and explored ways they could use the XO in the classroom. Both OLPCorps members and teachers were fantastic. Together, they explored ways to use Turtle Art, Memorize and Scratch for lessons. One teacher, who had not previously used the laptop in his class, decided he wanted to start right away and grabbed some OLPCorps members to assist him in his classroom.

Kagugu teacher Simon's students with XOs

Kagugu teacher Simon's students using XOs for outdoor language learning

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School Sessions in Rwanda with OLPCorps, Part 1 : Rwamagana B

Mwiriwe from Kigali! This is part 1 of a 3 part series on OLPC Learning Center work with OLPCorps this summer.

part 1 | part 2 | part 3

Things are just slowing down here after the excitement and energy brought by the 30 OLPCorps teams who were in Kigali from June 8-17th for a two-week training–the first action of the OLPC Center for Laptops & Learning.

The workshop brought OLPCorps teams to five Rwandan schools with XO laptops; the following is a brief synopsis of each training:

Kicukiro (Photo courtesy Michael Stein)

Students at Kicukiro Primary School (Photo courtesy Michael Stein)

1. Rwamagana B Primary School:
Rwamagana was the first school to receive XO laptops in Rwanda in 2007. The school is located an hour outside of Kigali and has a total of 750 XO laptops, 822 students (P1 does not have laptops), and 12 teachers. All students take their laptops home. Silvia Kist, of the OLPC Learning Team, along with Bryan Stuart, led training, with the support of 11 OLPCorps and 2 Rwanda Core Team Members.  More details after the jump.

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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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OLPCorps blog roundup

Here are blogs from our first 29 OLPCorps teams. (The 30th team, working in Kibwezi, received only hardware support).

University of Miami        Mauritania
Cornell : Mauritania
Tulane/U at Buffalo : Sierra Leone
UMaryland/Princeton : Sierra Leone
UPenn : Cameroon
Kwame Nkrumah U of Sci & Tech : Ghana
CUNY Baruch : Ghana
University of Education, Winneba : Ghana
University of Ibadan : Nigeria
ULagos/Royal Holloway/USalford : Nigeria
Texas A&M University : Nigeria
Dalarna U/Royal IT : Ethiopia
Laval University : Gabon
University of Illinois : Sao Tome e Principe
Colorado College : Uganda
MIT/Wellesly : Uganda
UC Berkeley Uganda
Utah State University : Rwanda
UWash/New School : Kenya
UT Antonio/Baylor : Kenya
University of Kinshasa : Congo
Tumaini University : Tanzania
GW University/UMaryland : Madagascar
Macalester U/Midlands State U/U of Zimbabwe : Zimbabwe
Harvard/MIT : Namibia
Teachers College/Caprivi College of Ed : Namibia
Indiana University : South Africa
UMASS-Boston : South Africa
Gettysburg College/Rhodes U : South Africa

OLPCorps : a proposed summer grant program for student initiatives

A group of students who have worked on two small deployments in Africa
over the past year have proposed an OLPCorps project (quick, how many C’s did you read?), to encourage students everywhere to found and contribute to locally-supported school projects.

You can find and comment on the proposal for this summer on the OLPCorps Africa wiki page.

G1G1 flyer from OHOT

G1G1 flyer from OHOT

OLPC is considering this seriously for promotion and funding this summer.  The program would be open to students from all countries.  Paul Commons from Indiana University has been leading the proposal development – their “one here, one there” chapter made the G1G1 flyer on the right during the fall.

What I like best about the proposal is that it is not competitive, and there is real incentive for different project enthusiasts to help one another make their projects better.  In practice this happens to some degree with publicly-posted proposal contests, since everyone reads other proposals and learns from the best; but it is a silent borrowing of ideas, not the give-and-take of suggestions.

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