OLPC in Rwanda: Transforming Society Through Access to a Modern Education


Looking back at 2011 there are two OLPC projects which I've been particularly keen on learning more about: OLPC Australia (aka Australia's Toughest Linux Deployment) and OLPC Rwanda which became the largest non-South American deployment in the world earlier this year.

Country Case Study: OLPC Rwanda

As such I was very excited when SJ Klein (OLPC Foundation's Director of Outreach) blogged about a report summarizing the first four years of the Rwanda project. And I certainly wasn't disappointed as it's a very good read in terms of explaining the context that the country's OLPC project is taking place in:

"With the overarching objective of disseminating ICT throughout all educational institutions in order to equip learners with 21st century skills, the government is focusing on expanding its ICT infrastructure to provide widespread access to power, connectivity and equipment; developing capacity by training teachers how to integrate ICT into teaching practices; developing and distributing digital content that is adapted to the Rwandan context; and strengthening partnerships to encourage participation of local institutions and civil society in ICT in education."

The report also mentions that plans are underway to expand the current 100,000 XO deployment by another 100,000 XOs by mid-2012. And by 2017 Rwanda's National OLPC Coordinator Nkubito Bakuramutsa hopes to distribute half a million laptops to primary school pupils.

This is certainly no small undertaking considering the list of significant challenges that the project - like any other major ICT for Education (ICT4E) effort in developing nations - faces. In fact the challenges outlined on page 8 of the report align remarkably well with the following six criteria for successful implementations of ICT for Education projects in developing countries which was compiled by Tanja Kohn, a PhD researcher at University of Innsbruck, and me in early 2010:

  • Infrastructure
  • Maintenance
  • Contents and materials
  • Community inclusion
  • Teacher training
  • Evaluation

It's the recognition of the importance of these key components in combination with what sounds like an incredibly challenging environment which will make OLPC Rwanda a very interesting OLPC project to keep an eye on in 2012 and beyond.

If you want to do just that or simply learn more about OLPC Rwanda then I'd recommend you to read the full report and keep an eye on the project's Web site as well as its Twitter account.


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