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OLPCorps in Rwandan schools, Part 3: EPAK and Kicukiro

This is final part of a 3-part series on the initial learning workshops in Kigali, Rwanda,  focusing on EPAK and Kicukiro schools.

EPAK: EPAK is located in Kigali. The school has a total of 420 XO laptops, 350 were given by the government; another 70 laptops were given by international humanitarian organization, Right to Play. There are 680 students and 15 teachers. So that each student at the school has access, students in the morning  session will share their laptop with students in the afternoon session. Laptops were first dispersed during the OLPCorps training. 15 OLPCorps members and Paul Commons, Reuben Caron, and David Cavallo of OLPC led the distribution and training sessions.

On day one, the team prepped by discussing a variety of issues which were likely to emerge, such as language barriers, how to address concerns of integrating the laptops into the curriculum, etc.  Teams touched upon each issue individually and designed approaches based on this discussion.  For language, a majority of the translation was led by Kaçandre Bourdelais from Laval University.  However, during the individual training sessions, French speakers were assigned to a separate teacher to manage translation. The training provided mostly individual attention on programs that teachers wished to explore in more depth.  Teachers varied in the activities they explored, from Measure and Scratch to Turtle Art.  Later that afternoon, the same teachers were seen explaining what they had learned to their students and how they'll have the same opportunity the following week.

Day two began by reflashing and NAND blasting several hundred laptops before distribution--only to find out halfway though that the image file was corrupt.  As a result, the majority of the morning was spent installing the latest build.  By lunch time, however, all EPAK's classes had laptops.  One particular lesson Corps teams took from this experience was the variety of teaching styles carried out in the classroom.  Some teachers, like P1, preferred more strict, instructional techniques, a few teachers valued individual exploration, and others attempted group work.  Unfortunately, unexpected power issues at the school forced us to stop by late afternoon.

Kicukiro: Kicukiro Primary School is located in Kigali. There are a total of 3242 students, 44 teachers and 780 laptops. These laptops will be distributed after July holidays, so that each child has access, the Headmaster has decided that each classroom will have 20 laptops per classroom. The headmaster Felix says that "kids left their old schools to come here because they heard we would have laptops."

OLPCorps students working with teachers at Kicukiro Primary School (Photo courtesy Michael Stein)
OLPCorps students working with teachers at Kicukiro Primary School (Photo courtesy Michael Stein)

Language was the main hurdle here.  More photos and conclusions after the jump.

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School reports from Kagugu and Rwamagana

Julia recently travelled to Kagugu and Rwamagana to work with the OLPC schools there. In Rwamagana she ran a week-long workshop, working with the students on programs and storytelling.Read the rest of this entry

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. Read the rest of this entry

Stories from Rwanda schools

Julia has posted a half-dozen recent updates to her excellent Rwanda blog, about her work, thoughts on access to knowledge, and efforts with the Kigali Institute of Education. She includes some interesting photos of students showing off their Etoys storybooks and drawings. She also reminded me of the CMU student group that visited Nonko School last month to run classroom workshops - an interesting model of community service.