e.Studyante : A new OLPC + connectivity program in the Philippines

Philippines has a number of amazing pilots underway. The grassroots eKindling group reports some remarkable success stories from their Lubang program, and have helped the province of Occidental Mindoro build on that success.

Now a new e.Studyante program in the Philippines, started in the Manila, plans to providing primary students with OLPCs and connectivity for the next 25 years. This program was started by P&G Philippines, along with Smart Communications (providing Internet connectivity) and the Synergeia Foundation.

e.Studyante recently launched at the Manuel L. Quezon Elementary School in Tondo, Manila. The program focuses on engaging education, supported by technology: it distributes XOs to students, provides other tools and training for teachers, and includes vetting and updating educational software and materials. It aims to make learning “fun, empowering, relevant, and easier” for kids, and to reach 1 million primary students by its 100th anniversary in 24 years – roughly 40,000 a year.

Chad Sotelo, P&G’s Country Marketing Manager, explained:

“We intend for this to complement traditional learning methods and tools instead of competing with them… A laptop and Internet connectivity becomes [their] window to the world’s knowledge and places it at their fingertips in real-time. People and places they had no access to before are now within their reach. These tools expand their horizons and minds and encourage them to dream and attain a brighter future.”

The program is funded in part through the sale of P&G promo packs, at retail outlets across the country; part of the price of each pack goes to the program.

Sharing the flame of inspiration

This past weekend, we had a country meeting in Cambridge – the sort of gathering of national project leads, and honest sharing of lessons and challenges, that I love best about OLPC.  It ranged from the familiar to the unexpected.  It is fascinating to observe the  with Gaza and Afghanistan providing useful perspectives on what is easy and what is hard in very dense and very sparse regions, under economic and military pressure.

It left me with a lot to think about regarding how we scale passion, awareness, and the practicalities of deployment — we saw a few different successful models for scaling to hundreds of thousands of children and teachers, and discussed social and political pitfalls to avoid.

At the same time, Juliano wrote up a very personal reflection on the recent teacher training sessions he has helped organize in Rwanda.  He comments that last week’s work felt more effective than any he had done so far, but that it made him think about the challenges of scaling training to an entire country.

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Rwanda: capacity-building for teachers in 150 schools

OLPC Rwanda organized a capacity-building workshop for 300 teachers this week. The school-head and one lead teacher from each of 150 schools attended. The GC4LL blog has a detailed writeup. I like this quote in particular, since passing on the ideas behind our core principles takes time:

They also are going to learn about the two main points of the OLPC implementation: one laptop per each child and children take laptops home. Those two points are always controversial and it is very important that school’s principals understand the underlining logic behind them. It the school management buy the concept, the success chances of the project in the school increase significantly.

There is also a photoset from the event and a copy of their “training booklet“(PDF) online.

PaleXO work with OLPC in the West Bank

The PaleXO volunteer team, whose Arabic language blog we recently added to our sidebar, has been working with the OLPC children in the West Bank for the past year. They’ve run some local installation events and software workshops, and are planning a Scratch Day to encourage kids to make Scratch activities. They often host events at Birzeit University.

They also have the best group OLPC shirts I’ve seen since the rise of the velociraptors… it’s a snapshot of the Sugar desktop with the most common activity icons on it, so they can simply point to the right icon on their shirt when working with students during a workshop. Brilliant. Barbara brought back some lovely photographs from there as well as the ones we posted earlier from Gaza.