A Visit to OLPCorps at Kampala Primary School, Uganda


I was able to visit one of the three OLPC volunteer teams working in Uganda this summer. The small team was based at Kampala Primary School and are working in coordination with Safe Alternatives for Youth.

During two teaching sessions of one hour each, the team took the youth at Kampala Primary School on a quick tour of some of the XO's main features. In just the third training session the students were writing sentences, illustrating them with hand drawn pictures and saving their progress for continued work in coming days.

As usual, some students were excelling and ready to move on towards the next lesson and some were slightly behind, but the focus, smiles and intent listening was evident as the students in primary grades five and six seemed ready and willing to learn how to use their new XO laptops.

This team isn't free of problems, as can be expected with a project as such, the school was without power for the first three weeks of the project. So, the volunteers spent an extra week showing the teachers of Kampala Primary School the XO's features, until power arrived, an added benefit for the small school.

The students aren't able to take the XO's home, just yet, so the team has numbered them off, making sure each student receives their own machine each day. The OLPC team was also able to begin lessons with primary four students as they had extra XO machines to distribute, thus expanding the projects horizons.

After the days two lessons with students the OLPC team spent an hour with teachers from different primary grades, so they too can have an understanding of how the machine works, in hopes of making this project sustainable once the volunteers left.

I have followed plenty of the criticisms of the OLPC project and must admit had my doubts of the project and its impact. However, spending time in Rwanda and seeing individual students at home on their XO and now seeing the smiles and focus of the students at Kampala Primary School, it's hard to argue with the positive influence the project is having in these two instances, on the ground.

Devin Holterman is a recent journalism graduate from Calgary Alberta, Canada's Mount Royal College. He is currently freelancing in East Africa.

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