OLPC Macedonia Update at OU Vojdan Chernodrinski

   
   
   
   
   

OLPC Macedonia happiness

Two months ago UNDP started a project with OLPC in Macedonia. Two classrooms were set up with 25 laptops each in early September when the school year begun. The news about the project was made available to the public last week when a major newspaper printed a story about the project.

I am Novica Nakov of Free Software Macedonia and I visited OU "Vojdan Chernodrinski" that is one of the primary schools that have a OLPC classroom to see what's going on.

The kids that are using the XO laptops are in the second grade. They seemed very enthusiastic when I entered the classroom. They were chatting on the laptops and telling each other what they wrote to their friends. They had no obvious problems using the laptops although the interface is in English.

Some of them even explained to me what kind of things they do and how to use some of the software. As I understood, classes in mathematics and Macedonian language are held using the laptops. The children are allowed to take them home and do homework. As a part of the UNDP project and with cooperation from OLPC the teachers had gone through some training so they can apply adequate teaching methods using the laptop.

One of the problems is the fact that there is no Cyrillic keyboard available on the XOs. That means that the kids type Macedonian in the Latin alphabet which could be counterproductive at their age. However, I hope that UNDP will solve this issue in cooperation with the local Free Software community.

The goal of this project is to serve as a recommendation to the Government of Macedonia in future investments in technology for schools. With the recent purchase of NComputing hardware with Ubuntu, it might seem that the Government made its mind about this, and maybe the OLPC project is rolling out a bit too late even though we still haven't seen the classrooms with NComputing's products.

I would like to believe that OLPC still has a chance in Macedonia.

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12 Comments

"the kids type Macedonian in the Latin alphabet which could be counterproductive at their age"
Counterproductive? I would understand the confusion surrounding the different Romanization rules for Macedonian Cyrillic, but surely there's enough Latin alphabet around for the kids to need to use it early on.

That being said, I have no idea how the government will localize the keyboard: Ѓ, Ǵ, Gj

"but surely there's enough Latin alphabet around for the kids to need to use it early on."

Yes, there is a different class for that. But surely for the Macedonian language Cyrillic is the best option.

What are you talking about? there being no Cyrillic keyboard?

http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Cyrillic_Keyboard
http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Image:RU-MP-v1.png

There wasn't one two months ago when this program started, but there sure is for Mass Production models.

Keyboards aren't much more than a different silk screen painting the keyboard and one config line.

To change to any given language is well documented on the wiki.

Seth, I'm aware of that, as well as the rest of the local free software people. However, we are not implementing this. Just reporting. :-)
We are trying to explain this to the UNDP people. We'll see what will happen.

Where is Macedonia? As I know the only region with this name there is in Greece. Are you from Greece?

Macedonia is very much its own country, and a beautiful one at that. I know I enjoyed my time there, and even learned much about Macedonian geek dating lives:
http://www.bbwindow.com/2007/macedonia/my_geek_dating_life.html

Macedonia seems to be a very young, very unique country, having just read the Wikipedia article.
It holds the distinction of being the "world’s first wireless country". Here's a more speciifc article about that:
http://macedonia.usaid.gov/English/Articles/macedonia-wifi.html

Sure looks like someone was trying to get the country ready for OLPC. I'd love to know what the teacher training consisted of.

"Yes, there is a different class for that."
That doesn't sound like constructionism. But surely the Macedonian government will choose the best format for teaching its kids.

"Keyboards aren't much more than a different silk screen painting the keyboard and one config line."
Well that "cyrillic keyboard" is actually Russian Cyrillic, not at all what is used anywhere else. I know Serbian Cyrillic is a pain to map on the normal keyboards, so I can't wait to see the more extensive Macedonian mapping (cyrillic and/or latin).

It is a shame that once again propaganda and hate tries to invade educational.

This issue started during the first Balkan war. The slaves living in Northern Macedonia needed a motive to fight their way to the Aegean sea and trade. That is the only reason these Slavs try so hard to present themselves as Macedonians. Since there is no historical truth for that.

This is how a "Macedonian" version of OLPC is going to spread propaganda and hate. It only helps the cause of certain people to cause instability in this area of Balkans. Those Slavs are also dishonest. There was an agreement with the Greek government to use the name of Former Yugoslavic Republic of Macedonia until we reach to an agreement. Why isn't this name used instead?

What also disappoints me is that these people are ungrateful. First, because Greeks teach them how to write. For information of the Cyrilic alphabet and who created it have a look here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Cyril . Second because OLPC is going to educate their children and it is also a tool started by a Greek.

"It is a shame that once again propaganda and hate tries to invade educational."

Sorry, but 99.99% of all humans cannot even start to understand the sensitivities the Greek have with calling people living in an area now after the name that area has had since ancient history.

Like requiring that all North and South Americans should be called Europeans instead of Americans.

You will have to learn to live with the fact that outside of Greece, everybody calls them Macedonians.

Winter

Winter said : "You will have to learn to live with the fact that outside of Greece, everybody calls them Macedonians."

this must change because Macedonians are only the Greeks, if those people in 'Macedonia' accept as their president Mr Karolos Papoulias, and as prime Minister Mr Karamanlis then I will call them Macedonians

Winter.

You have a disturbed view of the world. Even if the entire world call them Macedonians that does not make them Macedonians. Before a few centuries the entire world said that earth was flat... well was it?

You also need to learn some geography. Even geographically they cannot be called Macedonians. Have a look here http://www.usu.edu/markdamen/ClasDram/images/05/MapMacedonia.jpg

Exactly because you do not understand the sensitivity of the issue and the political, economical and social factors behind it, it would be better for Americans and outsiders in general keep a neutral stance on the matter. Since there is an agreement to be called FYROM we expect it to be respected.

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