A trek across Africa to support students

Tamin-Lee Connolly plans to travel from South-to-North across Africa, ending in the middle-east, visiting schools and helping to deploy laptops along the way. She may even bring some of her own. Today she begins her travel by flying back to her native South Africa from Dubai, where she has been working, launching a year-long journey by land rover to visit 39 countries. She plans to volunteer for OLPC and perhaps other educational groups along the way, and has been talking to grassroots XO deployments to find those that would benefit from a visit – starting with the amazing team in Kliptown!

If you’re working in Africa, drop her a line on her travel blog, everything except the horn – perhaps you can meet up during her trek.

OLPC Uganda: connecting schools in Pokot

John Valent with the E4N Foundation has been working with children and families in Cheminy, and is expanding to two more schools in Pokot as the new school term begins. They use a collection of materials for both school and farming, and encourage children to learn with their families, and help their families learn, outside of school.

Kudos to their team for sharing their work, and tracking their open tasks and reports online.

Kasiisi Project: Notes from a technical lead

“I like to use the computers for English and to know about them” says Daphine of Kasiisi Primary School in rural western Uganda.

The Kasiisi Project helps to promote conservation through education around Kibale National Park, Uganda by building classrooms, hiring extra teachers, supporting healthy environments, providing support for 90 students to attend Secondary School, and working with other school support organizations.  Over the past 15 years, Kasiisi has grown from a small, one-building school to a massive compound with a kitchen, library, teacher housing, and now computer classes. Much of the early success of Kasiisi can be associated with a strong Head Mistress and support from the Kasiisi Project.

My name is Jeff Bittner, and I have been working for the Kasiisi Project since October 2008 helping to support Kasiisi and the 4 other schools in the Project.
I have been involved with a variety of activities since my arrival, including the introduction and implementation of roughly 150 XOs (see our Kasiisi blog for more background). As a person working in the schools before, during, and after the introduction of the XO Laptops, I have seen the way that these computers can excite and engage the students, as well as the complications that come with them.

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The future of East African education: EAC and EALA input

At the end of last month, we were invited to sign an MOU with the East African Community (EAC) at the East African Community Investment Conference in Kampala. This was the follow-up to last November’s meeting in Arusha, Tanzania for the 10th Anniversary of the East African Community and Legislative Assembly (EALA). Lidet has been organizing this series of meetings, and helped schedule the week around this latest event.

There was a press conference and signing, with Matt, Lidet, Julia and Sam from OLPC Rwanda, the Secretary General of the EAC, the Speaker of the EALA, Ministers from several countries, parliamentarians from five countries, and Uganda’s Ministers of Education and Technology. Coverage of the event was extensive in Uganda, with some international coverage, and press questions were enthusiastic.

The seriousness of the EAC and EALA was striking. So often lip service is paid, promises to follow up are pledged, but at the end of the day, conversations slip away. But both the Speaker and the SG pledged to move quickly, spoke passionately about the future in education for East Africa, and discussed how to work with individual countries and with the EAC collectively. They also publicly stated olpc East Africa (30 million children) as a goal for 2015.

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East African Community OLPC launch

Here’s a short video from last month’s meeting of the East African Legislative Assembly, shortly before the EAC announced a regional OLPC initiative:

This was the 11th Summit of the Heads of State of the East African Community (EAC).  President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete of the United Republic of Tanzania and Secretary General Juma Volter Mwapachu of the EAC said a few words prior to Matt Keller’s presentation.

The East African Community (EAC) is the regional intergovernmental organization of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi with its headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania.  Its legislative arm, the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), addresses regional policy issues, and has been active since 2001; Rwanda and Burundi joined the EALA relative recently, in 2007.

OLPCorps Roundup

As the Corps move forward, we’ve asked each team to post blogs on a variety of key themes revolved around the deployment process.  In the coming weeks we will highlight a few teams who will cover basic issues and statistics ranging from demographics, health, and education infrastructure to the local culture’s perspective on OLPC’s 5 principles and what the children do when they take the XO home.

Today’s post focuses on the diversity of Corps communities and learning environments teams are working in.  The Corps deployments range from urban to rural, 1:1 to 1:3, 6 years old to 12 years old, and high to low student-to-teacher ratio.  We share updates from Uganda, Senegal, and South Africa.

First day of XO Camp at Driehoek, South Africa (from Youtube):

Continue reading OLPCorps Roundup