One Laptop Per South Pacific and South African Pilot


If you are as obsessive as I am in following the One laptop Per Child program, you'll have no doubt noted that both South Africa and the South Pacific Community are both conducing OLPC XO pilots but you may doubt the use of the term "pilot".

In the South Pacific Community, TARD reports that an OLPC XO BTest-2 prototype is doing the rounds of the Solomon Islands as part of the existing Ministry of Education Distance Learning Centres Project being implemented by the People First Network. The pilot will test a locally-designed model for the distribution and use of OLPC laptops, which so far are being displayed at the opening of Centres with children demonstrating the features.
I wouldn't call that much of a "pilot" but more a publicity tour.

olpc south africa
OLPC South Africa supporter

Luckily, the lone OLPC XO in South Africa sounds like it's in better hands. We hear from Russel Southwood that Antoine Van Gelder and Morgan Collett are using their XO computer to drum up support for an actual community-level pilot. Support that includes alternate OLPC financing. To quote Antoine:

OLPC will sell you the laptops provided you make an order for 250,000. That’s better than last year when it was 1 million. There’s very few organisations that can put up the money for that size of order so it leaves Governments and UN organisations. The current price is US$175 so an order of that size would cost $4,375,000.

If we can’t get the government to do this, we’ll look at other options. We’ll find someone who’s got cash to float the loan and then collate orders for organisations and individuals. The price of an individual unit is the price of a cellphone. People can find that kind of money. Someone like a foundation may buy the first 250 000.

Antoine also speaks with pragmatism about the challenges and rewards of One Laptop Per Child. I am particularly heartened when Antoine speaks of how he plans to engage local communities when developing a pilot site:
olpc south africa
New South Africam OLPC users
We’ve got a candidate school on the Wild Coast and we’ve got a guy there who’s strongly involved in this local community. We cannot afford to be perceived as coming from outside with this thing that will change people’s lives.

The first thing we need to do is to get a handle on the leadership in the community and get to know them. It’s a case of convincing them that the 4-5 strangers who will come with these strange green and white boxes that may threaten their position. We need to work carefully with them and step one is getting that conversation going.

As Lee Felsenstein says, it takes a lot to make technology implementation work and most of that effort is in community relations, not technology. A cultural integration process to acclimate parents, the community leaders, and the working educators to the OLPC "Trojan horse".

Good luck to Antoine Van Gelder and Morgan Collett, they sound like they're developing a quality implementation plan.

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Altought we always welcome new pilot news I would really like to be reading actual shipping news. It´s june already and the iPhone seems more near than the XO.

In a sidenote to wayan (or whoever edits the css). I always find you quotes confusing. When quoting a text you usually have a left indent, which is good. But on the next paragraph that indentation disappears and I am never very sure whether it is still a quotation or is it your ocmmentary? I suggest keeping the same indentation and preferably changing the font aspect (background, size weight or color) of ALL paragraphs when you are quoting someone..


I'd like to be writing about full-scale pilots, and more importantly, the results of such pilots. But I'll quote Antoine Van Gelder who says it the best:

Q: What’s happening in Nigeria?

Those working with OLPC found a village and put in the laptops and it’s been happening for about a month. It’s difficult to get a clear analysis but their web site has a lot of smiling kids. But the real take-home message was that the kids refused to go home and attendance figures have gone up to 100%.

Indeed kids they thought were lost to the system have started coming back to school. So with no running software to speak of, no preparation and it is revitalising the school. Whether it will last, we’ll have to see.

250,000 X $175 = $43,750,000 not $4,375,000.

Thanks for the OLPC order minimum math check Allen. It looks like Antoine will need a few million more than he expected to make a South African OLPC XO pilot happen.

Hello all,

The writer (Wayne Vota) is not well informed about what is happening in the Pacific. It is true, the Ministry of Education does have a B2 in the Solomon Islands and we have been planning a pilot but it is premature to publicise the details. The B2 is being used to introduce the concept to the potential partners including rural communities (see ), but this does in no way constitute a pilot itself.

It was premature of the writer to judge our initiatives here in the Pacific as a "publicity tour".

People First Network

It's not publicity tour...

It's not a pilot...

It's not true...

It is...a moving target!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Your photos of the OLPC XO in Henua have all the hallmarks of a successful publicity tour, which is a good thing. I am glad that the Solomon Islands are becoming familiar with the amazing XO laptop.

Yet you might want to tell TARD about your (and my) views on the word "pilot". They are the one who entitled their post "One Laptop per Child pilot project promote in Solomon Islands"

From Fiji Times Online:

This year the Director-General of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Dr Jimmie Rodgers, announced support for the One Laptop per Child initiative for people in our region. Such an initiative, according to Dr Rodgers, will target the regions six to seven million youths in the six to 17 years age bracket....

Dr Rodgers said if we looked at the number of children across the Pacific without the opportunity to either go to school or pursue further learning something like this would provide a long-awaited solution.

From ITWeb:

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) has opened its long-expected local office in the Johannesburg Stock Exchange building, at the Exchange Square, in Sandton.

Asked about AMD's One Laptop per Child (OLPC) programme, in light of the Classmate PC pilot project launch last week, Mosaheb says: “OLPC does not currently have plans to roll-out in SA.”

He adds that OLPC is just one of the pillars of AMD's 50x15 initiative. “We believe there are many ways to accomplish the mission of 50x15, a bold and far-reaching effort launched by AMD in 2004 at the World Economic Forum,” Mosaheb says.

“The OLPC project is one of many solutions currently being developed to address the critical issue of making computers and the Internet available to a large portion of the world's population. 50x15 is well under way in SA with further projects taking place in the coming months.”

Computer world says "MIT’s ‘$100 laptops’ to go to Pacific islands":

A small group of internet activists from New Zealand, Australia the Solomon Islands and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) plan to take the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) initiative to the Pacific islands.

A local not-for-profit, to be called OLPC Oceania, is planned but is yet to be formally constituted, says Ian Thomson, the New Zealand member of the initiative, best known for his work with the 2020 Communications Trust.

OLPC Oceania plans two programmes: first, a pilot deployment of 20 machines, to be given to Solomon Islands children to supplement their regular education. The initiative would then be widened-out to other parts of the Solomons, once the pilot had proved itself, says Thomson.

We need your help!!!
We support 49 high school learners in the Wester Cape in South Africa.
All are very talented, previously disadvantaged and in need.
Easch needs a XO.
How can we get them?
We pay a part. Who helps as our partner?

Butzi and Paul Spiering
The Spierings Foundation, Cape Town
[email protected]

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