OLPC Announces Launch of a Program in Gabon


Resumen en español al final del artículo

Last week OLPC announced that:

...it has launched the project with the Government of the Republic of Gabon to initiate a 1:1 educational computing project for the children in the country.
The initial phase of the project represents approximately ten percent of the children in Gabon and a total saturation of all primary school children is planned to be completed by 2014.

Gabonese XO users in 2008

These days I tend take any announcements about total saturation being planned for a certain date with a grain of salt. However it's certainly encouraging to see that there is commitment for a pretty sizeable initial implementation.

According to 2006 UNESCO figures 184,000 children were at primary school age at the time so if that 10% comment from the press release applies to that age group (versus also including younger and older children) then I would estimate for the initial project to distribute approximately 20,000 XO-1.75 laptops to pupils and their teachers.

Aside of those number games I was thrilled when I read about "community development training" being part of Gabon's OLPC program:

OLPC will provide full technological, educational and community development training to the Ministry of Education staff responsible for the project's launch and will provide quarterly ongoing support in the country.

While it's not clear what this training entails just seeing the word "community" in that announcement makes me hope that the importance of community inclusion is truly recognized and considered from day one.

2009 XO/Sugar Guide

Speaking of community I also can't help but wonder whether this development was somehow the result of this 2010 OLPCorps project in Gabon which folks from Laval University in Canada were involved in.

Already in February 2009 some of these students helped pen an extensive 100-page "pedagogic guide of the XO and Sugar environment in the Gabonese school context" (original French PDF / Google translated version on the Sugar Labs wiki). My French is spotty on the best of days but from what I gather this should be a good foundation for the newly announced project.

Overall it's good to see a new country get started with what could potentially become a fairly large OLPC implementation. I also hope that Gabon's project has closely looked at the many other OLPC initiatives around the world and learned to avoid what Alan Kay once referred to as "reinventing the flat tire".

Resumen en español: La semana pasada OLPC anunció que: "... se ha puesto en marcha un proyecto con el Gobierno de la República de Gabón para iniciar un proyecto de 1-a-1 para los niños en el país. La fase inicial del proyecto representa aproximadamente 10% de los niños en Gabón y una saturación total de todos los niños de primaria está previsto para 2014."


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