OLPCorps Harvard Ghana
We are a team of two undergraduates from Harvard University passionate about technology and development in Africa. The team is comprised of Timothy Kotin (Ghana) and Abel Boreto (Kenya), who currently study Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and Government respectively. We are excited about this opportunity to work in an under-privileged community to change the lives of children through technology.
Motivation and Feasibility:
We plan to undertake the project in two neighboring primary schools that have an average of 45 pupils per class. The schools, which are located in Saboba District in the Northern Region of Ghana, will be in session between mid-June and early August 2009, which coincides with our project timeline. Like many other parts of northern Ghana, Saboba is one of the most marginalized townships in Ghana. The project will thus have a bigger impact on the education of the children in these schools because it would put them at par with students in better-resourced communities. Timothy Kotin, who hails from Saboba, spent the formative years of his education in a public school in Tamale. It is thus with an appreciation of the challenges that confront children in similar circumstances that we are embarking on this project. We believe that the potential of children in Saboba, and the world over, should not be defined by their specific circumstances. Saboba is also ideal for this project because it has electricity supply, mobile and fixed telephony, and limited internet connection.
Target Group, Saturation and Connection:
We plan to distribute the laptops to children in the 6th grade in each of the two schools. We chose the 6th grade because at this stage, most of the children can read and write in English, and thus owning the XOs will be excellent preparation for them before they start learning ICT in 7th grade. We plan to collaborate with each school's teachers and administration in order to integrate the laptops into the class environment. Classes usually end at 2 pm and we plan with the help of the school administration to create an extra session where children can learn and practice to use the laptops in less structured, but more creative settings. We also plan to set-up a blog where the children can take turns to write about their experiences, stories and future aspirations. The blog will not only help the children learn from each other, but also improve their reading and writing skills. We also plan to hold inter-school events for the participating schools. This will include competitions on different skills e.g. programming, writing, design, individual and team projects etc. The competitions will serve as additional motivation that will bring out the creativity of the children, and also help them become more conversant with the XOs.
In addition to the schools we will be directly working with, our other local partners will be World Vision's Saboba Area Development Program (ADP) and the Saboba District Assembly. World Vision is an international NGO that engages in extensive development projects in rural communities all over the world. World Vision's Saboba ADP has agreed to support this project as part of their permanent development initiatives for Saboba, in the sectors of health, education, water supply and local entrepreneurship. They have also agreed to receive and provide safe storage for the 230kg package at their offices before deployment.
To ensure the sustainability of the project, we will work in conjunction with Mr. Jacob Kotin of World Vision Ghana to set up a project committee comprised of representatives from the World Vision's Saboba ADP, Ghana Education Service, the district assembly and teachers and parents of the children. Our OLPCorps team will work with the committee to ensure the maintenance of the XOs and other hardware, plan and coordinate inter-school competitions and collaborations, and explore potential expansion of the project. Support for the long-term sustainability of the project will be in the form of fundraising efforts at Harvard through organizations such as Harvard African Student Association (HASA), Youth Alliance for Leadership and Development in Africa (YALDA), Harvard College Global Hunger Initiative (HGHI); grants from the Idea Translation Lab at Harvard, Davis Projects for Peace ; and technical support from World Vision's ICT personnel in Saboba and The Ghana-India Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT (AITI-KACE).
Also, we will gladly collaborate with other OLPC deployments to Ghana. This will provide a larger network of children empowered to contribute towards their individual and collective learning.