OLPC Rwanda: building a platform for expression for the whole community

In an Op-Ed in Uganda’s Independent, Andrew Mwenda notes that Rwanda has set itself apart from its neighboring countries in almost every field; including with its tremendous fiberoptic network and olpc laptop program. “building one of the most promising platforms of democratic expression”. He notes:

Kagame has predicated his presidency on performance by his government. Hence, the delivery of public goods and services to all its citizens regardless of their station in life… It is Kagame’s political genius and greatest achievement and is unrivalled in post-independence Africa. But equally it is the greatest source of frustration among elites.

The article is worth a read.

Meanwhile, Rodrigo is in Rwanda this week to thank President Kagame for his amazing work in supporting OLPC for all children in the country, and to learn from the program there.

Nagorno-Karabakh deployes 3,300 OLPCs to connected schools

Nagorno-Karabakh is a landlocked region which seceded from Azerbaijan in 1991, and has been engaged in a  low-grade military conflict involving Azerbaijan and Armenia ever since.  Recently they have launched a New Education Project to improve primary education across the region.

Many of the children in the region have schools, and some have internet access.  This week, they launched a small OLPC project, deploying laptops to 3,300 students in 16 connected primary schools in the cities of Stepanakert (the region’s capital), Shushi, and Karin Tak.

Vladik Khachatryan, Minister of Education and Science of Nagorno-Karabakh, was present at the launch.  He announced,

This program will improve the quality of education of elementary school students in the NKR, and what is more important, will make more information available to them and their families… within a short period of time we will be able to establish equal educational opportunities in all NKR.

Rodrigo added,

Education is a key factor to breaking the vicious cycle of ethnic hatred and violence for children who live in conflict zones.

I look forward to seeing the project develop, and hope that the recent focus on children and education brings stability and peace to the region.

Making the world a more intelligent and humane place to live

Rodrigo Arboleda is giving a keynote address today at the International Symposium on Convergence Technologies (ConTech 2011) in Seoul, Korea – a gathering focused on making the world a more intelligent and humane place to live.   His talk is “Children as a Mission, not a Market“, focusing on the challenges of making modern education available to children in developing parts of the world, and OLPC’s lessons learned to date.

New OLPC Rwanda site

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.

 

Introducing children to programming

A recent CSM article about getting young people involved in programming and hacking (noting both OLPC and Raspberry Pi) quotes Rodrigo on students’ accomplishments in Uruguay:

Debugging a program is the most perfect way of learning… We have already 12-year-old children in Uruguay that are proficient programmers. You cannot imagine the stuff we are beginning to see in these young kids.

 

TEDxRio : Rodrigo on OLPC and viewing children as our future

Rodrigo Arboleda spoke about OLPC at TEDxRio this week to a crowd of 800, with 7000 people watching online.  The conference was a big hit in the Brazilian blogosphere, and one of the top trending topics in the world that day.  TEDx has really captured the essence of TED without much of the overhead, and it’s great to see it flourish.  Everyone there felt they were discussing how to contribute to human knowledge and development, and they left wondering how they could follow up on the event in more rural parts of the country – a great audience for an olpc talk.

The session will be up online soon, and you should watch it; for now, an image from the floor:

Rodrigo speaking at TEDxRio

"Children are a mission, not a market"