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 Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Colombia, 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…
As the contest winner, Giuliana will be attending the 2011 Halo Awards organized by MTV and Nickelodeon in LA next month. Congratulations to her and to the other four finalists on their work. Asked what message she would send to other children, she thanked her parents and teacher for supporting her, and said ‘always remember that with your XO and imagination you can be who you want to be and realize your dreams!’ (recordar siempre que con tu Xo e imaginación puedes ser quien quieras ser y lograr todo lo que sueñas!)
Peru has a large and complex XO project, certainly the most varied anywhere, with its mix of rural and urban, powered and off-grid. Now they are adding local assembly of future laptops, something many countries have considered but few have carried out.
As notedrecently, local assembly offers shorter startup times for production, and gives the deploying country more of a stake in the ongoing project.
Peru is being supported directly by Quanta, our factory in China, in this. Similar arrangements will be a bit easier now that the first one is underway, but this sort of arrangement is hard to work out unless the deployment team is planning for a steady flow of hardware delivered over years.
Nevertheless, this is a great step for olpc sustainability. Between Peru’s interest in assembly, Uruguay’s recent interest in design for new audiences, and Paraguay’s interest in developing better software and OS builds, Latin American deployments are taking up shared ownership of most aspects of the project.
Paraguay’s national deployment, run by Paraguay Educa, has been developing its own build of a Sugar operating system for its students, with help from Sugarlabs. They are calling it Dextrose. The newly-formed Activity Central group, a Sugar-development consultancy, is helping with this work, and supporting some local developers in Paraguay.
Dextrose is a spin of the core Sugar build that will focus on teacher tools and content in Spanish.
While initially developed with feedback from classrooms in Paraguay, this will hopefully become a platform that other deployments in Latin America can use. While Peru has been shy about frequent software upgrades, preferring to have something stable for years at a time, Uruguay and other smaller deployments are good candidates to start using Dextrose as well.
Bernie Innocenti and the team in Paraguay have released build 180py of their Fedora 11 + Sugar desktop. It is fast, offers both Sugar and Gnome desktops, and includes many recent features from the past year into a build that isn’t too large.
Some call it ‘the best XO OS ever’ – and it is indeed fantastic. Everyone who has an XO-1 should download this build and try it out. (but don’t forget to back up your files and any customized activities first!)
At the same time, Sugar 0.88 is being designed to work on both the XO-1 and the XO-1.5, and is currently available for testing and development. Bernie needs help with finding “a more pronounceable name than F11-0.88” – describing the combination of Sugar 0.88 and stock Fedora 11 – so once more, please share any good naming conventions. If your name is chosen, I will personally ship you one of the near-mythical Red XOs.
Batovi Games Studio, a game development company headquartered in Montevideo and Buenos Aires, recently released a long mini-game, Super Vampire Ninja Zero, for the XO. This is the most recent game being developed in parallel for the XO and the desktop PC. Batovi has been around since 2005 and has recently begun expanding to new platforms. It is great to see their handiwork running within Sugar.
Update: parents and teachers are often unhappy that their children play games. No less Doom and SVNZ. I sympathize with this. I also remember how a love for games taught me how much you could do with a computer (and how that was my first impetus to program something — how awesome to be able to make something it’s fun to watch others play!). This is part of the genius of Scratch – it combines the sharable joy of games and animations with an easy learning curve for discovering algorithms and techniques.
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 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.