RSS Feed (xml)

Powered By

Skin Design:
Free Blogger Skins

Powered by Blogger

Friday, November 30, 2007

About OLPC at Sao Joao

STEP UP OLPC: One [Academic] Year of Success!

STEP UP OLPC is proud to announce the completion of our very first successful school year incorporating our laptop program!! Many thanks to members of STEP UP, the University of Illinois, OLPC, the São João School and other supporters and friends. We couldn't do it without every single one of you!!

In the summer of 2009, One Laptop Per Child (OLPC), in partnership with students at the University of Illinois, provided the São João secondary school on the island of São Tomé and Príncipe with 100 small laptop computers (called “XO laptops”) for use by its 6th grade students in conjunction with the NGO, STeP UP (São Tomé and Príncipe Union for Promotion) and an OLPCorps composed of UIllinois students. These computers are ultra-durable, energy efficient laptops that allow students to learn word processing, mathematics, photography and video, computer programming, research science, public health initiatives and other important lessons from their very own internet-enabled computers.

Out of a number of disadvantaged countries in the world, São Tomé, despite its small size, broke through a competitive application program and was selected by OLPC to be one of the first recipients of these XO laptop computers. Once São Tomé was selected, the São João school was chosen as the country's most deserving school. These computers were donated at no cost to the school, in hopes to nurture the ability of students to learn, discover and create through technology.

With the help of numerous national and international volunteers, the program is already off to a brilliant start. Students come to class so eager to learn that other children regularly attempt to attend class on Saturday who are not even students. These children lie about owning computers in hopes that they will be able to participate in the learning experience. After only one class session, the students could already type and format word processing documents, take pictures and videos and browse the Internet. These are students that have never used computers before in their lives; students that do not have reliable sources of energy on a daily basis. Yet they are learning to use the computers as tools to read and write, to record important information and to edit and improve work they have already done. They are interviewing other students, giving presentations, teaching each other various programs and activities, recording their student interviews and writing summaries using good Portuguese, and then taking these computers home and reaching out to their families and communities, feeding their curiosity, expanding their observation skills, recording what they find, troubleshooting and problem solving, and, through all of this, building a stronger, more powerful and more connected community.

The computers are taken home regularly so that students can expand their learning both in and outside of the classroom. On Saturday mornings, the students gather for three hours for a special computer science class. It is our hope that this class will expand to weekdays as well, and be incorporated into classes of other subjects, though to do this it will be necessary for all 600 students in the 6th grade class to have access to the computers. That's 500% more computers than we currently have.

To make the most of our current resources, we hosted a series of summer classes in July of 2010 in partnership with the non-profit organization, Waveplace. Here, students were be able to use their computers on a daily basis while working with the Etoys learning environment. With only simple financial needs such as teacher payment, maintenance fees and extra costs such as spare parts and summer snacks, the summer program offered a way to expand our impact at only a fraction of the cost.

However, the lack of computers is still a problem at São João. With few computers to spare, we are in extreme need of extra screens, keyboards and other parts. In direct contrast to the decline of computer availability, the need for computers is only increasing. The XO laptops, like all computers, have a limited life, and will one day cease to function. We are also still in severe lack of computers to sufficiently equip the rest of the 6th grade. Ideally, computer availability among all students will allow teachers to use the computers as tools to use with daily lesson plans in other subjects, which was OLPC's original intention.

For this reason, STeP UP's long-term goal is to purchase 500 new computers and to develop a healthy program among students and teachers at São João.

If you would like to help, please donate on the left-hand side of this screen, or visit the How You Can Help page.

Read about our media and press exposure here. You can also read our recent press release here.


Please click the button below to donate to STEP UP OLPC to support the São João school's computer program in São Tomé:

Donate $200 and you will be paying for a computer for at least FIVE very special children at São João (as estimated computer life is five years). Thanks so much!

Want your donation to be tax-deductible? Send a check to STeP UP with OLPC in the memo. Then mail it to:

Eric McClafferty
Kelley and Drye
3050 S St. NW, #400
Washington, DC 20007