Kenyan teachers on strike, XOs and volunteers take over

In rural Eshibinga, Kenya, teacher Peter Omunga has at the Eshibinga Primary School, Kenya, been doing an amazing job sharing his experiences with Sugar and OLPC over the summer. Peter maintains the Eshibinga Digital Village blog, documenting the introduction of IT and electricity in their community. They recently received 2 XO laptops, which he has used to interest his primary students in reading, writing, math, and making videos. He has had help from Fred Juma at the nearby Bungoma pilot school and from global volunteer Sandra Thaxter.

Eshibinga is a rural part of the country that is starting to benefit from solar power centers, but that has very limited access to water, electricity, and healthcare.

The school had been keeping laptops in the principal’s office at night at first, but over the past weeks as a national teacher’s strike has emerged, the students were given the laptops to take care of, and received another two laptops from donors.

Sydney from the school’s IT Club has been writing about what it’s like to study on their own when the teachers are away:

Robert arrived carrying our usual [XO] laptops. They are normally stored at the school office. The principal had sent Robert to pick them from his office. He also had left a note for us. We opened it and read it out aloud. “Make good use of these xo laptops and take good care of them. They may be the only teachers you may see in this school until the government ends the ongoing teachers strike”

Students have been meeting at school on their own with their XOs to study computers and practice writing and videotaping their own stories (and considering what it means to share a personal journal with others). And one of their teachers has been maintaining a blog about their work this summer, and is with them at school, helping them learn despite the strike.

OLPC in El Salvador

Teachers and assistants at the Universidad Evangélica de El Salvador
Teachers and assistants at the Universidad Evangélica de El Salvador

El Salvador, which began a 400 XO pilot last year, has been in the news again this week.  Their vice-minister of education Erlinda Handal gave an interview about their program “Cerrando la Brecha del Conocimiento” (Closing the Knowledge Gap), and mentioned hoping to expand their olpc project to cover all primary students in the country over the next four years.

“Children being able to take the ‘laptop’ home is something new, expected to amplify the process of learning, and this opens greater opportunities, better prospects for success.”

I hope to see more news from El Salvador, or at least more videos like these, in the future.