XO Security Activated in Rwanda, July 1, 2011
In an effort to ensure that laptops provided to students in schools are not stolen, the Rwandan Ministry of Education, with the assistance of OLPC, has enabled a security feature forcing all laptops that are not in schools to shut down. Currently, 124 schools and a little over 61,000 children are enjoying the usage of XO laptops across the country. More schools are being targeted as the government has now received an additional 35,000 laptops, 32,000 of which, are of the latest version the XO Revision 1.5. This should allow an additional 70 schools to participate in the program. This will effectively place Rwanda as the XO largest deployment outside of South America.
The security feature was added to the laptops during a re-flash process where all 65,000 laptops were updated with the latest software and additional educational activities to ensure that the laptops are used in an educationally suitable manner. According to Nkubito Bakuramutsa, the National OLPC Coordinator, moving forward, the project is also rethinking its approach to private schools, so that those who have purchased laptops will be enabled with digital content from primary 4 to primary 6 on SD cards.
The security feature has triggered a current exercise of visiting schools; checking on the count of laptops; recapturing serial numbers as well as repairing the failing ones, according to Patrick Mugabo, the officer in charge of logistics at the Ministry. Any laptops which will not be enabled by the OLPC engineers will remain in a failing state until they are brought back to the schools or to the Ministry.
The activation process of laptops, which began last week in the southern province, will continue until the entire country is covered. While today, this process is being done manually, servers being installed at schools will take over and automate this process by the end of the year.
With the OLPC project, primary students in Rwanda are being exposed not only to technology in the classroom but also to a new way of learning by doing. Already over 1000 teachers have received a first phase of workshops to introduce methods of integrating these laptops into their lessons. The Ministry of Education is committed to enhance the quality of education through the integration of technology as one of the strategy of meeting its National Kivu retreat goals.
To get a sense of the change this project is bringing in schools, the community is invited to join the national OLPC SCRATCH DAY, which will take place in September 2011.