OLPCorps CHALMERS ETHIOPIA
Institution: Chalmers University of Technology,Gothenburg, Sweden
Team Name: OLPCorps_CHALMERS_ETHIOPIA
Team Memembers: Markos Kassa, Temesgen Tewolde, and Muluken Berhanu
Deployment Location: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
The One Laptop Per Child program seeks to empower children to become agents of change and development through the introduction and encouraged use of information technology. Such projects are bringing positive differences in Ethiopia as well (http://www.olpcnews.com/countries/ethiopia/one_laptop_per_ethiopian_child.html). In furthering this mission, our team which is composed of three international students, is proposing to engage in a deployment in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. We will be partnering with the Organization for Prevention, Rehabilitation and Integration of Female Street Children (OPRIFS). This Ethiopian-based NGO began working to serve the needs of female street children in Addis Ababa in 2000 and has since been backed by local and international organizations, including Save the Children.
With OPRIFS, we will be partnering with Meskeram-2 primary and secondary schools,with more than 1100 students, which is located in the heart of the capital’s slums. The school is operated by the government and caters especially to vulnerable, destitute and orphaned children. While most public schools charge a fee for primary and secondary education, government schools provide a free education to primary school students. However, government schools tend to offer lower quality education. Privately owned schools offer a better quality education and more resources but for the population served by OPRIFS, these resources are out of reach. Ethiopia's schools are set up in such a way that students up to grade two are taught by the same teacher for every subject. This setup means that the students in the target age group will be able to use the OLPC laptops in all of their classes. With the OLPC program, however, 100 of Addis Ababa's most disadvantaged children will have a chance to get a step up that they would otherwise not have by integrating information technology into their academic and home lives.
During the summer, Ethiopian children are not in school so this summer will be the perfect opportunity to implement our project. Because we have all come from Ethiopia, we will be using our connections as well as those of OPRIFS to bring the children to the school during the summer. We will hold meetings with the parents as well as the children and let them know our plan to distribute the laptops and the advantages of information technology. We will spend 3-4 weeks at the beginning of our deployment familiarizing OPRIFS staff, Meskeram-2 teachers who will be working with the laptop recipients. Furthermore, by including teachers at the school in the training, we will be ensuring that they are able to integrate the laptops into their curriculum and utilize the academic components of the software. In addition, to make sure the projects sustainability we are planning to involve high school students as helpers with the deployment and work closely with Ethiopian Engineering Capacity Building Program (ECBP)which is a governmental initiative founded in 2005 and has deployed 5000 XOs in various regions of the country.
Because we will be working in the capital city of Addis Ababa, where the country's major airport is located, we will be able to easily obtain the laptops when they are shipped for distribution. Until they are distributed we will house them at the OPRIFS office. We have confirmation from the NGO that they will be responsible for obtaining a locked storage unit to ensure the safety and security of the laptops until distribution. Though deployment of the laptops is one part of the job, we really are working hard to raise funds to make sure the sustainability of the project. We are working with the students union in our University and local funders supporting our idea. OPRIFS, as clearly sited on their support letter, have also stated to take care of the follow-up (five years from project deployment) by organizing a technical stuff dedicated for the purpose.
We believe schools are important links to reaching individual families and communities. Children are also eager to learn and help others. Therefore, they often have an important position in the family by acting as a media of knowledge transfer from school to their families and thus influence the rest of the community. Moreover what children learn through this,that includes responsibility of handling their own XO, is likely to be applied during the rest of their lives. Since children are our future parents and grandparents they are important agents of change. Therefore our team strongly believes the OLPC project will have the power of reaching youth, society and future generations and we, as citizens of the country , look forward to being one part of that.
Our team consists of one pedagogical lead and two technical supports all from Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden. Temesgen is specializing in Quality and Operations Management and is very much interested working with children closely. He had the chance of working as a teacher in various Colleges in Ethiopia. Markos and Muluken , both Bsc in Engineering, will comprise the technical team. Markos has been involved in major software projects and is an fan of 'open source' development. He is specializing in Intelligent Systems Design while Muluken is perusing his advanced studies in Industrial Ecology for a Sustainable Society.
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