Unlike her all-positive OLPC Nigeria write-up, in Peru she points out the frustrations as well as the successes in trying to establish a one-to-one computing environment with XO laptops in a poor, rural school in the Cordillera de la Viuda, 2600 meters above sea level and three hours by dirt road from Lima.
Take her description of the One Laptop Per Child distribution ceremony and the very real threat of laptop theft:
Something the teachers told us afterwards, that also impressed us, was that every single parent came to the meeting, except for two of them, even when parents had to walk incredibly long distances to make it.I'm glad she did not gloss over the need to incorporate cultural theft reduction protocols into OLPC Peru activities, in addition to the award-winning Bitfrost security system. Most thieves in rural areas like Arahuay would steal a Children's Machine as much for the show of power, as for resale or personal use.
Of the parents that didn't show, three children are brothers who are fully registered in the school, and we also gave them their laptops. They will be able to use their laptops freely, as all the other children in Arahuay town, however, they will not be able to take their laptops back home on weekends until their parents come and approve that it's okay for them to take them home on weekends.
Town authorities and OLPC-in-Peru are concerned that since they go so far, they may be hurt by someone trying to steal their laptops from them, since word has spread that they have laptops. Nevertheless, the Arahuay community has committed itself to making sure the children can freely and securely use their laptops around town.
Still, Carla Gomez Monroy does give me concern when she talks about the pedagogical aims of One Laptop Per Peruvian Child:
When I'm asked how we are measuring the benefits for children of the OLPC Educational Project and what kind of parameters and evaluation methods we are using, it is hard for me to figure out what people really expect to hear:Yes, that's exactly what Ministers of Education, like those behind the Huascarán Program, of which I.E. Apóstol Santiago is a part of, want to hear. And that's why the Peruvian Ministry of Education is testing a OLPC pilot group. They are looking for objective measurements of knowledge, performance, and skill development variables. They want to say what Intel's World Ahead program reports from Classmate PC usage:
That the moment children got their laptop they became smarter? That at the end of the period between moment x and moment y, the children in the laptop group performed better than those in the placebo and the no-treatment groups?
Intel Corporation is excited about the Jabi [Nigeria] experiment following the 27 per cent average score of students in the programme over others without laptops. The improvements were recorded only after its first six months in operation.But it now looks like Peru's Ministry of Education is not going to wait until November, when the objective testing is complete, before expanding One Laptop Per Child in Peru. Andia reports (via Google translation and Jose Alejandro Godoy) that the rebuilding after the recent earthquake that damaged many schools in Peru:
Is an excellent opportunity so that the delivery of scholastic computers, developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), begins in the areas of the wreck and "we take advantage of this situation to give to Peru one better educative quality".
May it also remember the people most dedicated to education; teachers. As Carla Gomez Monroy noted, teachers have multiple roles in the community that extend well beyond the classroom and their participation and enthusiasm is key for One Laptop Per Child success, no matter the country.