Sylvia Gonzalez Mujica on OLPC Uruguay Implementation Plan

   
   
   
   
   

Can I make a radical suggestion? Could we adjust the messaging of One Laptop Per Child, substituting Sylvia Gonzalez Mujica's reality for Nicholas Negroponte's hubris?

I just watched Luis Ramirez interview her as program manager of Ceibal, the OLPC Uruguay roll-out, and while she has similar answers to Negroponte, she speaks with an authenticity and reality that is shockingly refreshing:

One example: when asked if there was teacher push-back, she was honest that not only did the teachers have valid concerns, their opinions mattered and Ceibal worked with them to make OLPC part of their educational methodology. Imagine that.

I only hope to imagine that there will be more Sylvia Gonzalez's in more countries that will make One Laptop Per Child a success on a local level.

Video subtitled through fav2fav.

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Such a pity that I never got to learn Spanish. Maybe I really should start.

"One example: when asked if there was teacher push-back, she was honest that not only did the teachers have valid concerns, their opinions mattered and Ceibal worked with them to make OLPC part of their educational methodology. Imagine that."

So what to think of it? Is it fortunate that the OLPC decided local people like Sylivia are much better at solving these matters? Or should the OLPC have done that with the danger that they would have messed up due to lack of people, expertice, and local contacts?

I, for one, have always thought that this is the way it will work out, locally. But I honestly have no idea whether that is actually good or not?

(And Wayan, can you get this lady to write up a post? Or maybe she already has written something about it you might translate and repost?)

Winter

Wayan wrote:

"One example: when asked if there was teacher push-back, she was honest that not only did the teachers have valid concerns, their opinions mattered and Ceibal worked with them to make OLPC part of their educational methodology. Imagine that."

That's not quite accurate, Wayan. You need to get a better translation. What the lady said is something quite different in meaning. I'll give you the essence of her statement (although it is not a literal translation):

"Yes, teachers had legitimate concerns, but that's a problem (the teachers' concerns about how best allocating the limited funds the country has for education) that has existed for a long time and we need to concentrate on bring this novel experiment to Uruguay if we want to hope for a better future".

She made the same argument every time they "discussed" whether implementing the OLPC Program in their country was a good idea.

It was very troubling to hear this lady say, when faced with the fact that there are not sufficient schools or that many schools had flodding bathrooms and classrooms, "that problem is in the past. We have to concentrate on the future".

Something very interesting: she also says that deciding to get the XO into Uruguay was not debated much (it was an "executive decision"), because it would have delayed the project.

In the end, she goes on to exhort other Latin countries to implement the program, even though they are not past the anecdotal ("the kids like the laptop and it is a wonderful thing") stage yet.

Is it good or is it bad? I don't know, honestly.

What I do know is that this is Negroponte's sales pitch disguised as an interview. There is nothing new in terms of results (education-wise) or implementation experiences :
how is the mesh working?
are the school servers working or even installed?
how is internet access?
what's available TODAY to Uruguayan students in terms of educational software?
Are there any plans for developing local curricula in Spanish, beyond what comes with the laptop?
What's the cost so far?

etc., etc.

Those are the questions that matter.

"what's available TODAY to Uruguayan students in terms of educational software"

I think this will come with time. I am thinking that contributing communities(user websites) based on the OLPC will sprout up from this device being available. Offering advice, addons, hacks, etc.

Robert,

Thanks for the clarification. And wow- that sure changes the meaning of the interview. I was hoping she would be more inclusive in her comments. Dismissing legitimate concerns with "that problem is in the past. We have to concentrate on the future" is a sure way to turn off decision makers. Just ask Negroponte.


Robert said:
"What I do know is that this is Negroponte's sales pitch disguised as an interview."

Just to clarify. I did this interview during a meeting in Santiago de Chile, last September 2007. This meeting was part of a United Nations-ECLAC seminar about ICT and the Millennium Goals I was attending.
http://luisramirez.cl/blog/?p=771

At that time Uruguay was still testing B2s with some technical problems. They were well aware of the limitations of this prototype but still quite enthusiastic about the experience. Sylvia presented Uruguay's early steps to the delegates of most of Latin American region.

What we really like about Uruguay is that their President took a bold decision and assigned the responsibility to make this happen in Sylvia Gonzalez's team. I don't know if you are aware of this but Uruguay has historically been one of the most advanced countries of the south America in terms of social welfare, including quality education.

So with this CEIBAL project Uruguay is setting the standard for the rest of the Latin American region. For that reason I'm really hoping they can achieve the goal of having every single children and every single teacher with laptops by 2009. Countries such as Chile will be paying close attention to what's going on in Uruguay.

And one more thing, just for the record. I'm not a journalist (sorry about my clumsy interviewing skills) and certainly I'm not being paid for OLPC or by any other corporate source. I'm in fact just a college Professor and I did this interview to support our citizen-led campaign UCPN.cl

Thanks,
Luis Ramirez
www.ucpn.cl

Some finetuning of the subtitling (rather poor BTW):

She's talking about "equality", not "equity"... inequality actually.

She states that yesterday's problems are to be solved together with tomorrow's problems, not simple ignoring the old ones.

For 2009, all primary schoolchildren (from five to twelve) with their teachers will have an XO.

The initiative came from the Industry ministry as an information society policy (increasing access to the Internet and so on) and an electoral promise to achieve less inequality / higher equality among Uruguayans.

Criticisms: it came from the executive branch without consultation (response: without this kind of decision, it would take so long); priorities, there are other things to do (it's transformative, so it will help transform Uruguay into an information society); teacher's demands (no response in the interview).

Learning achievements: not that many or at least mostly related to appropiation of the technical resource. Doesn't sound like they have solved this particular issue.

Hi Eduardo,

The translation has been done collaboratively by different people and it isn't finished. We expect help to do the finetuning and improve it [1] (you'll need to register and log in) and also to translate it to other languages [2] (after log in, the "Translate" menu will appear on the right-hand side).

[1] http://dotsub.com/translate/?filmid=1518&source_language=es&destination_language=en
[2] http://dotsub.com/films/entrevistaa_1/index.php?autostart=false&language_setting=en_1520

Sorry for the inaccuracy.

Luis et al:

Translation was good enough for me (teacher in an american school) and very interesting to hear that Uruguay is making this effort (HOWEVER imperfect it may be) to bring technologies my students take for granted to kids who could otherwise only dream of owning or using a computer.Hey, without this compter on which I write (and which I could never have dreamed up when I was a kid in the 1950s) I would never be able to know what's going on in South America. More power to Ms Mujica and her students!

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