Archive for September, 2010

Rwanda Customization!!!

For the first time the OLPC-Rwanda team (myself, Jean-Claude, Adrien & OLPC interns: Sam, Nash, Jackie, Ceri) and the Rwandan Program team from MINEDUC (Jean-Paul & Jeanne) have worked together to create a customized build for Rwanda’s XO laptops. Here are the new activities (in addition to the preloaded activities on 852) the team has decided to include (we would love to hear about anyone’s experiences with the below activities and will soon share our own) :

1. Foodforce, Version 4,

2. Block Party, Version 7,

3. Social Calc., Version 5,

4. Free from Malaria, Version 2,

5. Gcompris,

6. Wikipedia,

7. Sunrise,

8. Starchart , Version 12,

9. Typingturtle, Version 26,

10. TUXMath, Version 2,

11. Physics, Version 5,

12. Ruler, Version 7,

13. Visual match , Version 24,


A visit from Sergio, Reuben & Claudia

Last week our team welcomed the long awaited visit of Sergio, the OLPC manager for Africa projects, Claudia the Director of Learning for OLPC and Reuben the lead country support technician.

We were all eager to show the group where we were in the project and, most importantly, what is actually happening at the school-level for both good and bad. We had many questions and ideas to share and discuss and it was great to have such wonderful sounding boards. In the middle of the week, Claudia held a 1-day workshop to focus on the basis of our learning ideas. I think we came assuming that the things that we thought would be easily transmitted to others through our actions, but it was clear that we needed someone to start from the beginning and clearly explain “constructionism” and the theory behind the laptop. In attendance was all OLPC-Rwanda staff, the core team from MINEDUC, now referred to as the Rwanda Program and past interns from KIE. Claudia did a fantastic job and that was evident when Q & A lasted over 1 hr! That shows the level of interest and excitement in a room that usually stays very quiet! I really have to thank Claudia for this, it was very helpful to all of us.

Reuben worked on developing those on the team that will take leading roles in: inventory, server installation and planning for and determining proper infrastructure. Reuben made a very critical point–the importance of planning for on-going electricity costs. He is working with the tech. team to define the estimated costs.

For me, these visits are important because when you become so intensely focused on something you can begin to lose perspective.

With their new insight I am now working on a proposal for a new model of support for the schools we have been working with (one that involves other NGOs).

A Laptop at the top of Mt. Kigali

I spent a great today with a good, new friend climbing Mount Kigali (which is a great thing to do), but one surreal moment was when we were approaching the top and there were less and less people and it seemed like we might be alone sans a few goats–I saw a child up ahead carrying an XO. We went to talk to him because I did’t think there were any laptop deployments anywhere near the mountain, he said that he attended a private secondary school and had traded some other kid the laptop for a digital camera! I was really interested into which school this student, who sold his laptop, may be from, public or private because the fear of the laptop being sold is such a concern for public schools, but I didn’t want to make the child nervous; so I just asked him if he used the laptop and what he did on it, he said “everything.” And he was carrying it to go use it with some neighbors. So while one student may not have discovered much use for their laptop, at least this other child cared about it enough to trade something else of great value and was now sharing this gift with his community high on top of Mt. Kigali.

Kagame Inauguration

Yesterday, H.E. President Paul KAGAME was inaugurated for a second 7-year term. Another ceremony that I felt lucky to experience….. The inauguration was attended by 16 heads of state from across Africa. THOUSANDS of devoted supporters filled the country’s national stadium and stood on their feet from 7am-1pm (gladly). Rick Warren delivered the opening prayer and showed to all that he is now a Rwandese citizen and even said in Kinyarwanda “I am home.” There was a beautiful performance from traditional dancers–there must have been 400! And although must of the ceremony was in Kinyarwanda I know enough now to know that a presenter and children, who were part of a beautiful presentation thanked Kagame for giving them MUDASOMBWA ( laptops)!

Good News at ESCAF

ESCAF, a small private school, that has fantastic teachers, students and a great Headmaster is, again, emerging as an example, this time, for using laptops at their school. This past summer myself, Melissa, Desire & Jimmy along with KIE/OLPC interns Lote, Janvier, Pie, Theogene and Evode started after school clubs at ESCAF (Melissa worked with teachers). We had some teachers, who were really interested in using the laptop in their classes, help us with the clubs. This past week Desire, Jimmy & I went back to ESACF to check in and now the teachers who helped us this summer are running the clubs themselves! I will try to attend one of their sessions soon!

One question is why is this happening at ESCAF and not others schools. I have a few thoughts:

1) We were able to dedicate a large team for a longer period;

2) The school is small, so it is easy to make changes;

3) The Headmaster is FANTASTIC and understands the importance of the laptops and pushes all of teachers;

4) The teachers are also great, young and enthusiastic

And sense some teachers from ESCAF read this blog, I hope they will fell free to add anything else!