This summer, OLPC is starting two projects in Africa. One is OLPCorps, which we have covered over the past few months and which you will be hearing a great about from the participants themselves. The other is the founding of a learning center that has just been founded at the Kigali Institute for Science, Technology and Management [KIST]. As part of this process, the OLPC learning team, including David Cavallo and Juliano Bittencourt, have been in Kigali for some time, laying the groundwork for this week's public launch. President Kagame himself came to open the center -- here is the official press announcement:
LAUNCHED IN RWANDA BY HIS EXCELLENCY PAUL KAGAME, THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF RWANDA
OLPCorps Teams to Assist in Providing New Educational Opportunities in 17 Countries in Sub-Saharan Africa
Kigali, Rwanda, June 9, 2009 -- One Laptop per Child (OLPC), a nonprofit organization whose mission is to help provide every child in the world with access to a modern education, in collaboration with the Government of Rwanda, is launching in Kigali, Rwanda, a Global Center for Excellence in Laptops and Learning. The purpose of the Center is to create the highest quality examples of learning with connected laptops in schools and communities, support ongoing laptop implementation plans in Rwanda, and create an African regional laptop network.
Leading the world in exemplifying laptops for learning, Rwanda is the natural base for this new center. The government of Rwanda has committed to providing all 2.2 million of its primary school children with laptops by 2012 and to serving as a model for other countries to copy, improve and further innovate. The Center also will develop senior fellows, community learning specialists and technology specialists who will return to their countries to lead efforts nationally, regionally and locally to extend laptop learning programs.
“OLPC has experienced great success when support for our mission comes from both the government (top down) as well as from grassroots (bottom up),” said Nicholas Negroponte, founder and chairman of One Laptop per Child. “The partnership with Rwanda represents a substantial commitment by both OLPC and Rwanda to bring learning to the grassroots and country level, which is exactly where it should be.”
Things are just slowing down here after the excitement and energy brought by the 30 OLPCorps teams who were in Kigali from June 8-17th for a two-week training--the first action of the OLPC Center for Laptops & Learning.
The workshop brought OLPCorps teams to five Rwandan schools with XO laptops; the following is a brief synopsis of each training:
[caption id="attachment_669" align="aligncenter" width="399" caption="Students at Kicukiro Primary School (Photo courtesy Michael Stein)"]
1. Rwamagana B Primary School:
Rwamagana was the first school to receive XO laptops in Rwanda in 2007. The school is located an hour outside of Kigali and has a total of 750 XO laptops, 822 students (P1 does not have laptops), and 12 teachers. All students take their laptops home. Silvia Kist, of the OLPC Learning Team, along with Bryan Stuart, led training, with the support of 11 OLPCorps and 2 Rwanda Core Team Members. More details after the jump.
This is part two of a post about school sessions during the 30 OLPCorps teams' two-week training in Kigali, Rwanda with members of the OLPC Center for Laptops & Learning and Rwanda's RITC/OLPC Core Team.
The workshop brought OLPCorps teams to five Rwandan schools with XO laptops; the following is a brief synopsis of the trainings in two of the schools, Kagugu and Nonko:
Kagugu Primary School:
This is known as the best public school in Rwanda. The school is located in Kigali and has a total of 3020 laptops and 3242 students (P1 students share laptops), and 47 teachers. The school has Internet access. Students do not currently take their laptops home. Julia Reynolds of the OLPC Learning Team, Epimaque TWAGIRIMANA Leader of the Rwanda Core Team, Core Team technical members Basil IRENE MASEVELIO, John-Marie NYIRINKWAYA, and 30 OLPCorps members conducted the training at Kagugu. Both days were focused on teachers.
So all 47 teachers could participate, they were arranged into 3 different groups, each with 2-hour training sessions. The first day, teachers were introduced to Scratch. It was their first time using Scratch because the laptops were just recently reflashed to a newer software build. After a basic introduction, teachers were asked to take a picture of any object or scenery in the school yard, and import this picture into Scratch and tell a story about the picture. The teachers, with the assistance of OLPCorps members, used sound, images and animation to tell their stories. At the end of the session, teachers shared their work with the larger group to supportive applause.
The second day, teachers sat with OLPCorps members in smaller groups and explored ways they could use the XO in the classroom. Both OLPCorps members and teachers were fantastic. Together, they explored ways to use Turtle Art, Memorize and Scratch for lessons. One teacher, who had not previously used the laptop in his class, decided he wanted to start right away and grabbed some OLPCorps members to assist him in his classroom.
[caption id="attachment_673" align="aligncenter" width="450" caption="Kagugu teacher Simon's students using XOs for outdoor language learning"][/caption]
This is final part of a 3-part series on the initial learning workshops in Kigali, Rwanda, focusing on EPAK and Kicukiro schools.
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 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)
Language was the main hurdle here. More photos and conclusions after the jump.