One Laptop Per One School's Nigerian Children


By now I am sure you've read the C|Net article about OLPC Nigeria where Khaled Hassounah is shown introducing the Children's Machine XO to eager students in a one-room school.

Nigeria OLPC
Khaled Hassounah & OLPC X0

Were you in awe of the accomplishment, rejoicing that One Laptop Per Child sent its Director of OLPC's African and Middle Eastern operations to teach a single class of poor children how to use computers, the nascent start of an OLPC implementation plan?

Or did you think there was too much focus on Khaled's story and too little focus on OLPC practicalities? That a few photographs from a single school in the capitol city made you react like Christoph Burgdorfer and think:

Looking at the inside of the classroom, still no sign of any electricity. Instead you have this smartly dressed dude from the western world with his shiny 100$ Prada belt explaining with the upraised digit how this shiny green fisher price device will solve all their problems... This somehow smells like a publicity stunt. A short one as well. 3 hours maybe - until the batteries run out of power.
I too recognized the introduction of OLPC's to a school in Abuja a brilliant public relations media play. The kids in the photos look quite happy and excited, and this trial run article has many people feeling all warm and fuzzy about One Laptop Per Nigerian Child. A feeling I'll have when OLPC delivers on Erik Speckman's call to:
Gimme THE FRICKIN MEAT! What happened when the kids finally got their laptops?!? To this point, they’ve apparently received computer instruction from an instructor who has never actually used a computer. How have they reacted to the Sugar UI? Have any of them discovered they can tweak the python code underlying it? C’mon people!!! What’s the holdup?!?
Yes, OLPC, tell us what happened to the children's educational experience the next day, month, year. Show us how the Children's Machine XO justifies its budget-breaking cost. Just one computer per Nigerian student is 73% of the entire Nigerian government's national income, and Nigeria is one of the richest countries in Sub-Sahara Africa. Only supplying laptops for each cohort of students and replacing worn out computers would still be 13% of the government income per year.

Nigeria OLPC
So what do we do now?

That educated guess does not even include basic implementation plan challenges the OLPC XO still needs to surmount. Now that the technology is well on its way, and the content is starting to develop, how does OLPC expect countries to integrate OLPC into their education systems? Especially once OLPC Directors move on, or as Kevin Lim recalls from personal experience:

It’s not computer classes that is essential. It’s true that learning by experience (and making mistakes) is important, but the key is having someone there when they need help. In my years of working in Educational Technology, sometimes just being there makes a big difference, to sustain the interest in times of trouble. That’s what I mean by technical support, to be there when it’s really needed, not to interfere
And that's a challenge that OLPC leadership has yet to fully recognize as it persists with its dreams of an implementation miracle. No matter if you believe that Moodle + OLPC = Education or fully dismiss teacher training on educational software, I think we can all agree that mentors, leaders, teachers, both formal and informal are needed and need to be motivated to keep One Laptop Per Nigerian Child from becoming a $100 laptop folly.

Motivation and education of mentors and students that will not be free, cheap, fast, or as easy as one laptop per one school's children in one capitol city.

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I agree that we must know what happens the next day, the next week, and the next year. Will the computers wind up as lamps at home?

Just as the elections that count are the second ones (and let us pray for Nigeria as they experience their "first second" election), the days that count are the ones that follow - and what we need to know is how the computers are used, how the teachers deal with them, and how the kids interact with them.

I strongly suspect that this information will not be forthcoming from OLPC in anything approaching real time. Jusst as they shined us on with assurances that all the educational research had been done and what remained was to build the product, I don't see why they won't shine us on now by assuring us that the Nigerian kids are still smiling, so on we go...

Will they dare to let us see the raw reports from the field (I assume there will be such reports)? As they arrive, I mean, and not batched up and edited for an anthology a year later.

Wayan, I suggest you keep a count on the website of days spent waiting for the report.

Eas of just pointed out something very interesting. In the CNet photo pool that accompanied the article, there is a photo of a building assumed to be the school.

Look closely, its not. The most telling photo is the satellite dish close-up which shows a different roof line.

why is the foreigner explaining the laptop? that should be a Nigerian face in front of the children. a local leader showing olpc as their own. now students see it as free gift from the west. if if it breaks or they need another generator fancy foreigner should come back and fix. zero community-value and community-ownership. all foolish media play.

I think you are all a little too impatient.

The whole point of the OLPC project is its mass. The XO is next to worthless if it doesn't cover a whole region. The downside of the Classmate is its isolation. Chances are, too few children will end up with a classmate at home to bother using it.

So, a single school in Nigeria with XO's is necessary to gather user data. However, it doesn't tell us how the XO will be used if every child wihtin 100 km will have one. In that respect, you are right, and this is a PR movement. However, a necessary one, as it shows the world that the OLPC project can actually deliver.

The idea is that children form a mesh network to communicate and distribute internet access. Moreover, the XO is meant to be used collaboratively. If all kids have one, they will develop ways to contact each other.

If you ask any Western child how they spend their time on a computer, chatting with friends (IM) will be on top, and playing games (that is what children do, play). Collaborating and planning are just natural parts of this.

But just as a telephone, this only works if you can indeed actually reach everybody. If I have a telephone, but none of my friends has one, what should I use it for?


"Look closely, its not. The most telling photo is the satellite dish close-up which shows a different roof line.
I think you are too paranoid. You should look at the houses in the background of picture 6

The school looks like a shed, however, the houses in the background would fit in the best neighborhoods of my home town. So I think the dish is on one of these. Maybe someone in that neighborhood donated a connection to the school? Poor countries have rich inhabitants, just as rich countries have people dying of poverty.



The caption of the picture you point to has two references that say the houses are not related to the school or its students:

The parents in the community gather at another school... The yellow houses in the background... None of the school's families live there.

What I find interestings are the people who are already writing off this project. What is your solution and can you give it away for $100.00. It is easy to bitch, but much tougher to come up with a solution. let's give the project some time and try tweeking it as it goes along. Remember the computer in the western world was not an instant hit. Who cares who is showing the child, that is just politics, and show not get in the way of the child learning.

I wish to know how to purchase th X-0 computer from Nigeria. Does it relly connect the internet when close to a server?

If the Nigerian educational attempt is such a disaster, why not relocate to Aljoun, Jordan where a young man , who is with the Peace Corps is there for another year and a half. He is computer literate and a graduate of the U of Oregon and has taught English in France, Spanish and French in Maine and now English in Jordan where he is learning the Arabic language.

He has been computer literate since the 3rd or 4th grade and wants to set up computer center of some kind in Aljoun.

'The last bit of news is that I have begun working on a project to build a computer and internet center in my village.  It is still in the developing stages, but hopefully I will be able to receive a grant from USAID to purchase computers and train people from Rajib in IT skills.'

Letter received last week. i.o.

Sorry, but these schools reequire a basic learning infrastructure before joining the web. Wouldn't it be better for the pupils to have books, paper and pencils rather than a tacky plastic pc that will break down and be used as an ornament after three months?

well this program is very great, please i want to request if i can get a laptop from you for free, i have none and i am a computer student in nigeria.

Maybe it's an old article..but Gawd! Haven't you people heard of 'research and development'??? I mean, you don't just say "I'm going to do something grand" and go outside and chop down a tree and there you have a flipping dugout canoe. It's like you guys are looking at someone actively and studiously working at carving this thing out, and laugh because all you see is a big tree trunk.

OLPC is ALREADY doing things that haven't freaking been done before. A computer that runs at 2 watts? With a color OR B/W screen, with very high resolution. With a keyboard that is not susceptible to water damage. With electronics that turn themselves off when unused to save power. Specifically designed to be handled roughly.

Get things like that in your heads before writing stupid, mis-informed, blatantly biased articles like this one.

I like this comment:
"how this shiny green fisher price device will solve all their problems... This somehow smells like a publicity stunt. A short one as well. 3 hours maybe - until the batteries run out of power."

1. It's still in development stages. What, you expected it to be $100 in the first run?? Since we live in the real world, it probably still will be in development for a long time.
2. it's a tool for CHILDREN to LEARN with. NOT PRIMARILY about computers. Some of your comments indicate that you think that is what it's for.
3. Have you even farging read the specs for the thing?? The batteries can be powered by a hand generator! My gawd, don't write articles about things that you don't even know anything about.

Since it can be used to TEACH, maybe we can TEACH the CHILDREN how to make the infrastructures that us fortunate people already have, here in the 'developed' nations. Why should they rely on some big bad country to come in and do everything for them? If they already rely on textbooks printed in those countries, why not save in resources and shipping costs by having one device which can display any amount of textbook information, without the cost of shipping it, without having to store those books and keep them safe. In fact, why not make open source textbooks so there is no cost in writing them as well?

Really, figure out what you are bashing before you blab on nonsense like this.

I am a student in nigeria. how can i get a free laptop i cannot finance one.

i need free laptop and i don't know how to get one, but with your help i know i will get one. you have being doing it and i know you will send me one.

pls, i need a computer so as to improve my skill and knowledge of computing.