Colombia’s President Santos on quadrupling Internet access nationwide, and on rural OLPC success

Last November, President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia gave the annual speech presenting the country’s National Competitiveness Report (pdf) – presented by the national Private Council for Competitiveness.

In his speech, he spends some time discussing his national plans for education, and recalls one of the great OLPC stories — the first OLPC program in Colombia in 2008, involving delivery by helicopter, no less, when Santos was Minister of National Defense. This took place in the town of Vista Hermosa, which at the time had recently been captured by government forces from the FARC.

Vista Hermosa students receive XOs in Dec. 2008

Here is the story in his own words. It is worth watching the original video; Santos is a good speaker. (The whole talk is fascinating; education starts at 26:25, the Vista Hermosa story is at 28:55.)

Excerpts after the jump. Continue reading Colombia’s President Santos on quadrupling Internet access nationwide, and on rural OLPC success

In Australian outback, OLPC school triples numeracy ability in 1 year

The rural OLPC school in Doomadgee, Queensland more than tripled the number of 3rd grade students demonstrating proficiency in numeracy — from 31% to 95% — from 2010 to 2011. This coincided with a renewed focus on the school, including providing every student with an XO.

As Michael Hutak reports, Australian MP Rob Oakeshott highlighted this in a statement to Australia’s Parliament, calling for national support for OLPC and similar initiatives to improve access and partiipation and close the education gap across Australia.

A great video from Yirkalla

Yirkalla is being well-covered by Australian media. TEN Digital devoted part of a weekend episode to the deployment, including this video from the classroom during the first day of the deployment. They catch a priceless expression on this child’s face 1:10 in, as he either learns to play Maze (as the shot suggests) or discovers Rick Astley for the first time.

Team One Beep – radio software gets data to remote areas

Here’s some research into long distance data transfer over radio frequency, from university students in Auckland New Zealand, that could be applied to future OLPC deployments.  They are currently preparing to compete in the final international round of the Microsoft Imagine Cup, which will take place in Warsaw July 3-9.

Team One Beep, made up of fourth year undergraduates Vinny Jeet, Steve Ward, Kayo Lakadia and Chanyeol Yoo, worked through the summer break to prove their idea could work. Their proposal was to send streams of data across the readily available FM/AM frequencies to impoverished communities.

Their project addresses a common problem encountered by the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) charity. The charity makes education more available to third world countries by delivering low cost laptops to remote and poor communities. They have distributed 1.2 million laptops already, and the number is growing. However a lack of infrastructure, such as broadband or even telephone lines, makes it nearly impossible to update the educational materials on the laptops.

Read the full article here.

Team One Beep intend running field trials in Australia and the Pacific Islands. Solomon Island OLPC deployment has made contact and is interested in collaborating with Team One Beep.

Students in Charikar, Afghanistan on their own needs

High school student Mohammad Sharif speaks about why students in his highschool need computers, despite not having electricity or running water, in this short video.  He attends Hazrat Noman, a high school in Charikar City in Parwan Province.

Columbia/NYC/filmmaker volunteer Jay Corcoran says this film changed his entire view of Afghanistan. Some remixes of his work: remix 1 and remix 2

Our series on OLPC in Afghanistan will continue over the weekend.