Yesterday I was at a meeting with officials from Nepal's Ministry of Education about OLPC Nepal when the following words, paraphrased from the original Nepali, turned my blood to ice:
"Wow, this could really work . . . This is exactly what Nepal needs . . . So, where's your Implementation Plan?"Implementation Plan?!!! Implementation Plan!!! [shock and fear] You mean that big document that explains how we will put an XO laptop in every Nepali child's hands, train their teachers, maintain and support this whole new structure over the long term?
Um nope, Chhaina, Don't got one. We're a bunch of people trying to transform Nepal's education system in our spare time between day jobs and families. We've been so busy meeting with government officials and international donors, localizing the software, and building Nepali-specific learning activities (we love our B1-Test) that we've neglected this very important document.
I in no way want to imply that OLPC has been less than 100% supportive. Walter Bender and Lindsay Petrillose of OLPC have been incredibly helpful. Most people don't realize that OLPC is only 15 people. We shouldn't expect them to do the legwork for every nation on the planet. We need to write a damn good Implementation Plan and if possible contribute the relevant portions back to the larger OLPC movement.
All you people that love OLPC's technology but feel that OLPC lacks a well-defined implementation plan, here is your opportunity to do something about it. Help us craft the One Laptop Per Child Implementation Plan for Nepal. Just log onto our wiki and contribute your ideas to the OLPC Nepal Implementation Plan.
And we have some very touch choices to make:
- Deployment: Shall we first cover one region entirely , such as the flat Terai where a good chunk of the population lives, or spread out our initial deployment sites and expand them simultaneously? This second option is logistically much harder but would cause fewer political problems.
- On-site support -- We're thinking of putting a sysadmin on site for the first six months and training an older student to maintain the systems. We also want to arrange a small salary and position title for that student. Who will the first-onsite sysadmins be? How many will we need? Costs?
- Networking the Himalayas -- Cheap ways to set up Internet access in remote areas?
- Motivating teachers to master the laptop -- shall we offer them pay incentives?
- Free for everybody? Should middle-class families that send their kids to private schools get free laptops? Nepali parents, rich or poor, already pay not insignificant amounts for school supplies. Could we ask the less destitute parents to contribute $10 or $20/year towards the laptop's cost?
- Protecting kids from sexual predators online-- we need a strategy to protect kids from online sexual predators. As if there weren't sexual predators in the villages and cities of Nepal.
- Preventing theft -- How shall we keep people from stealing them? Could we block a stolen laptop from accessing the Internet by using it's hard-coded MAC address?
- Content -- Keep it traditional or really break new ground?
- Evaluation -- How do we measure how the XO's enhance learning?
- Disposal Plan -- How shall we recycle old and broken ones? How shall we make sure they don't litter the hillsides of Nepal?