One Laptop Per Macedonian Child

Macedonia classroom
Macedonian classes of tomorrow?

I am Novica Nakov of Free Software Macedonia and the Macedonian Government announced a project about computers in education in December 2006. The ambitious project "Computer for every student" is now under way.

Reports say that it will cost around 20 million EUR. However, the Government seems determined to buy 150 000 desktop computers for all public schools in the country.

In the past there were similar projects, and although none was of this scale schools had problems with the amount of hardware they received. Electricity is a problem only for remote schools. Most of the schools though have problems with securing enough room for the computer lab. Also, past experience has shown that schools have hard time protecting against robbery. Whole computer labs have gone missing over night in the past years.

The people at the USAID funded Primary Education Project are aware of these problems. Chief of Party Dr. Keith Prenton says that they will try to convince the Government to look for other, more effective, hardware solutions by the time the "Computer for every student" project ends in 2009.

Typing on his Classmate PC at the UNDP conference for Free Software held last week in Skopje he explained to the interested crowd how Classmate PC and OLPC XO are the education technology of the 21st century. PEP has 16 Classmates and they are hoping to put them in a classroom when the new school year starts in September.

classmate pc olpc xo
Classmate PC or OLPC XO

However, the hardware is not the only issue in Macedonia. Mr. Dragan Nikolovski, who spoke at the UNDP conference as a representative from the Ministry of Education, says that there are growing concerns about the software curriculum in the schools. In his presentation he talked that classes have turned into courses for Microsoft products.

Now, he explained, they are looking to introduce GNU/Linux and they are working towards a vendor neutral curriculum. On the other hand, PEP is working closely with Microsoft and recently they signed an agreement for cooperation.

Knowing that the Classmates are preloaded with Windows XP, we at Free Software Macedonia are trying to get one of those and install GNU/Linux. Afterwards, we might to convince the people from PEP to do the same with all of their Classmate PCs. This may be our first contribution to the growing numbers of school & computer related projects in our country - most of which have been Free Software unfriendly.

Still no one is talking about One Laptop Per Child. I'm sure that there will be great benefits from testing the OLPC XO together with Classmate PC when the school starts in September. And while Macedonia probably can't be in the in the first batch of countries buying OLPC, it is quite possible that things change over two years time - smaller orders could be possible or some regional cooperation could prove useful.

In the mean time it might be wise to send few green laptops for testing in a country where the Government is willing to spend money on education and technology.

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Even if Macedonia is not ready to buy the required minimum XO machines, I think it would be a win-win situation for the OLPC Project so send a few hundred units, so that it can be compared side-to-side with competing products. At the same time, the actual capabilities of the XO machine could be determined and tested.

This is a great opportunity for Negroponte to conduct one of the much-needed pilot projects; by the time the test is finished, Macedonian school officers could be XO advocates and the purchase a mere formality.

> Knowing that the Classmates are preloaded with Windows XP

Aren't there also Classmates preloaded with Mandriva Linux? At least System Configuration - Software page suggests this:
And they also state: "Operating System may be determined by local or regional needs".

Do not forget that Classmate PC can be aquired also with Linux OS and on "XO" can be installed Windows. Problem is in accepting new way of thinking and new concepts. CMPC goes in adapting present laptop technologies for certain purpose, XO discovers new aproaches in thinking for technologies and its usage.

The Classmate can be ordered with Windows XP Pro or two flavors of Linux: Mandriva 2007 or Metasys Classmate 2.0.

What I meant with "Knowing that the Classmates are preloaded with Windows XP" is that the ones we have here are with WinXP.

We got one to try it and if we manage to boot GNU/Linux on it, I'll send some screenshots here.

One commend only. it is a very respectful move of their government. other countries should take example of it. but it is not "macedonia", it is former yugoslavian republic. macedonia is a province in greece. has been for centuries and will continue being greek.

Hey, nick the greek...learn to spell first and then accept the fact that about 200 countries have recognized the constitutional name of the country - Republic of Macedonia including
Russia, Canada, USA etc

Sorry nick:))

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