Training focused on the holistic development for students in Rwanda

By Desire Rwagaju, OLPC-Learning Development Officer

One Laptop Per Child Association in collaboration with Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village (ASYV) proposed, planned and is implementing a training that focused on the holistic development (cognitive & social) for its students in senior six and five. This Training aimed to strengthen the ASYV student’s knowledge on the use of OLPC laptop for deep learning, lesson planning and implementation of project based learning activities.

Brief history of ASYV:

After 1994 genocide in Rwanda, one of the biggest problems Rwanda faced was the vast number of orphans with no systemic solution to support their well-being and development. Anne Heyman and her husband Seth Merin (living in New-York City) were inspired by the similar challenge that Israel faced after the Second World War, when there was a large influx of orphans from the Holocaust. As solution to the problem Israel built residential living communities called youth villages. This is the model residential living communities brought to Rwanda by Anne Heyman, Agahozo-Shalom Founder. Called “The Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village (ASYV)” is a residential community in rural area in Rwanda. It is a home to youth who were orphaned during and after the genocide in 1994. Its mission is to enable orphaned and vulnerable youth to realize their maximum potential by providing them with a safe and secure living environment, healthcare, education and necessary life skills.

Education in ASYV and OLPC involvement:

ASYV aims on developing students both cognitively and socially. Village education focuses on both Formal Education (schooling) and Informal Education to expand each student’s talents, skills, and capacity to become not only functioning members of society, but leaders of their communities. This is where ASYV’s education aligns with OLPC’s learning philosophy and approach–using mobile technology to empower each student’s individual learning process in some of the most remote and difficult conditions. With connected laptops, learners are liberated to actively engage with others with similar interests in cultures of learning by doing without being limited by time or space. Children can learn by teaching, actively assisting other learners and freeing the teacher to focus her experience and expertise where most needed. It was seen as an opportunity for this village to benefit from this learning approach, which will enhance all the great initiatives already in place.

Trainees explore sugar learning environment, diagnosed and solved different hardware and software problems, as well as disassembling and assembling the XO.


At the end of the first phase of the training (August 10th) all trainees were going to vacation, they have been assigned to different schools received olpc laptop in previous deployment done by the government of Rwanda in 30 districts of the country. They will be helping the project with the upgrade of the anti-theft key, as they will be introducing kids and teachers at schools nearby their homes on the use of xo laptops. The Training will continue after they come back from vacation to reinforce trainee’s capacity of planning and conducting trainings for teachers.


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.

Rwanda’s next 100,000 laptops arrive this month

Rwanda will have 200,000 children using XOs by the end of the year. They are putting the second phase of their deployment into place over the next few months, in time for the second term this year. The laptops will start to be delivered later this month.

Each participating public school – at least one per sector – will have a school server installed with mathematics, science and English software to enable teachers to teach using laptops. Two teachers at each school are taught to handle troubleshooting hardware and software. Schools with no access to electricity will continue to be connected to solar energy.

The program has been particularly popular among parents of children receiving the laptops. And private schools and individuals can buy laptops for $200 apiece.

Nkubito Bakuramutsa, the head of the initiative, said of the new schools joining the program: “I call upon parents and teachers to support the OLPC project. I am optimistic that the beneficiaries will compete favourably on the labour market after completing their studies.”

Happy New Year! Reflections on OLPC in 2011

As we prepare for 2012, here is a quick look back at the past year of OLPC. We distributed our two millionth laptop (now 2.5M), and our largest programs in Latin America (Peru) and Africa (Rwanda) grew steadily. Austria’s Julieta Rudich and Journeyman Pictures produced a fine documentary about Plan Ceibal in Uruguay (the world’s first complete olpc program), and Peru provided XOs and compatible robotics kits to all of their urban schools.

In East Africa, we expanded our work with African nations and donors to improve education for children across the continent. We were invited by both the African Union and the UN to open an OLPC office in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Addis is a major hub for African diplomacy, and the support there for our mission has been stunning. We have become a full partner of the East African Community in Tanzania, and our recent country report on Rwanda has driven further interest in the region.

A Rwandan student workshop in Kigali

In the Middle East, we continued working with the Palestinian Authority, Israel and the UN to provide thousands of Palestinian children with XO laptops, integrating them into schools. It took ten months to work the laptops through customs in Gaza. But at a forum in Ramallah in June, teachers from Bethlehem and Gaza showed how OLPC was helping to end isolation and to excite learning for their children. Third grade girls in refugee camps are teaching others and writing computer programs. The testimony of these women to the power of persistence was extraordinary.

In Afghanistan, we founded a regional OLPC Afghanistan office, and briefed General Petraeus on the project. We believe that one laptop per child and connectivity, across the country, will transform this generation and their communities. Today we are working with the Education Ministry to support four thousand children in 10 schools, and are looking into expanding in Herat Province.

On the technical side, we focused on driving down laptop power needs by switching over to ARM chips in the XO-1.75 and upcoming XO-3 tablet. The tablet should be chargable by a solar panel that could serve as its carrying-case. We are studying new ways to help children learn to read, including where there are no schools at all.

In society, the idea that every child should have access to their own computer and to the Web – as a basic part of learning, whatever their family income – continued to spread. In addition to ongoing national programs in Argentina, Portugal, and Venezuela (for secondary students), two full-saturation laptop programs for older students are developing in India – an inexpensive tablet is being distributed to university students, and in Tamil Nadu dual-boot laptops from six different manufacturers are being provided to secondary students.

Reaching the least-developed countries in the world remains our goal and our most difficult challenge. While our largest deployments are funded directly by implementing governments, rural successes may be driven by foundations, NGOs, and individual donations. OLPC Rwanda, today one of the largest educational technology projects in Africa and part of a ten-year government plan, was seeded with ten thousand laptops given by Give One, Get One donors.

So to our supporters: thank you for your development, contributions, and collaboration, your feedback from the field, and your encouragement! This is all possible thanks to you.

Happy New Year to all — may 2012 bring you inspiration and discovery. We have some excellent surprises planned for the new year. And we would love to hear your reflections as well — please share stories from your own school projects in 2011.

OLPC Rwanda takes off

Update: the OLPC Rwanda 2011 report is out!

OLPC Rwanda (twitter) has grown steadily since its launch a few years ago, and is now part of early education in every school district in the country. Rwanda aims to become a technical and Web powerhouse, and has remained true to that vision. Today they are in some ways the most technically advanced country in the region (to the chagrin of neighboring Kenya, which also hopes to be the hub for software and technology development in East Africa). Rwanda is preparing to double the size of the OLPC project in the country over the coming year, now that they have a smoothly-running system in place.

Happily for us (and for future deployments), the country team has put together a beautiful report on their first three years of work, which will come out tomorrow. It is concise and written for a general audience, with a fine balance of perspectives, from political and financial to the needs of teachers and PTAs.

In related news, Joseph and Erize, the two boys who made their own business cards for their OLPC outreach efforrts in Kigali, saw that we wrote about them on the blog last week, and left comments of their own welcoming questions from all of you. 🙂

Rwandan OLPC mentors: students with business cards

Back in May, we held an international Scratch Day event in our office called “Rwandese Kids Scratching their Communities.” This event had local students familiar with Scratch, an interactive programming activity on the XO laptop, planning and holding their own workshop. They taught teachers, family members and anyone else who came how to create Scratch projects.

This day was open to all and many new children found their way into our offices to learn more about Scratch and the XO laptop. Two such boys were Joseph (grade 3, 10 yrs old) and Erize (grade 2, 11 yrs old).

In the months that followed, Joseph and Erize kept coming to our offices (near
their houses) to use the laptops. During this time, they not only mastered use of the laptop, they spread word to their friends, and now help and guide other children who have begun coming to the office. Their homes have become popular places with family and friends coming each night to learn more and use the laptops.

The boys had been reserved and quiet, but are now outgoing and confident. Their English has expanded from a few sentences to conversational in just a few weeks. It is clear their work with the laptop has empowered them. They are so happy to be involved with OLPC, that they have each created their own business card and tell everyone in the neighborhood that they work for OLPC!

Joseph and Erize, on their own, chronicled through pictures an afternoon of themselves and their families at home with their laptops: