Happy new year to the OLPC community around the world! Thank you for your part in everything we have accomplished in 2010 – from our new initiatives in Gaza, Argentina, and Nicaragua to expansion of work in Peru, Uruguay, Rwanda, Mexico, Afghanistan, and Haiti.
Special thanks to everyone who has worked on the newest iterations of Sugar, and those who put on the grassroots events over the past year in the Virgin Islands, San Francisco, and Uruguay — all of which has helped connect some of our smaller projects and realize some of their educational dreams in new activities. We’ve launched our new website for the year, highlighting the stories from these and other deployments; this blog may merge into that site as well (and you can see blog posts appearing in its News section).
Peru’s latest deployment to urban schools is underway, expanding the total reach of their federal program to over 8,350 institutions and 813,000 children and their teachers, across the country. The program focuses on a few classes in each of a large number of schools, to ensure that the schools are all part of the program. Many of these schools will not have saturation (yet), but this will make ULUN much more a part of everyday school life in the capital.
The latest banners up around Lima announcing the project are bold. I can’t remember the last time I saw a major public ad for a national education program in the US.
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.
Peru is planning to expand their OLPC program to reach every primary school in the country next year. Last week, during a meeting with regional leaders from the country’s 24 departments, Oscar Becerra commented on plans for the program to reach over 16,000 primary schools across the country – though not every child in each of those schools will have an XO at first.
Peru is working with the department leaders to help them organize regional programs to complete the saturation of their schools. They are also expanding their awareness and training programs for teachers, with an event last Friday for over 500 teachers. Walter and Rodrigo were both present for some of last week’s events (Walter has been visiting many of the South American OLPC deployments, as anyone following the Sugar digests will know), and the general vibe and feedback from both administrators and teachers was quite positive.
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.