OLPCorps MIT Uganda
- Victoria Cheng, an undergrad at Wellesley College, is majoring in Economics and Philosophy. She has had previous experience working with private tutoring and classroom teaching elementary students in Mandarin at the Chinese Language School of Connecticut.
- Kristen Watkins, an undergrad at MIT, is studying Political Science as well as Urban Studies & Planning. When she isn't busy involved with international development in Peru or Panama, she's doing routines on the gymnastics floor.
- Jeffrey Xing, an undergrad at MIT, is studying Management and Physics, with minors in Economics and Mathematics.
June 8th to June 17th - Kigali, Rwanda June 18th to August 17th - Kampala, Uganda
 NGO: Stand Up For Africa
Stand Up for Africa (SUFA) is a UK-based, African-led charity working with Africans and friends of Africa to support community-led development projects in Africa.
Their mission is to:
* Improve access to education. * Improve health and wellbeing. * Promote and protect the rights of children, young people and women. * Provide opportunities for income generation.
 Project Summary
Through our close contact with SUFA headquarters and SUFA Uganda, we have made plans for laptop deployment in the outskirts of Uganda's capital, Kampala. Though computers are prevalent in the city, where there is also internet access, children and adults in this slum area have had minimal or no contact with computers, often coming from rural or orphaned backgrounds.
The number of children at each primary school (ages 6-12) does not amount to 100, and therefore we will be working with students at a few different primary schools. The first week of our stay will be spent in extensive meetings with local schoolteachers, devising a very specific educational plan for the creative integration of the computers into the existing curriculum. This period of time is when teachers will also become acquainted and familiar with the functions of the XO. Meetings with teachers will continue thereafter on weekends and after-school hours, as necessary. The school term runs from May through August, which means that kids will be attending school daily during our stay. Students will assume full responsibility for their laptop, and will therefore be briefed on their maintenance and safekeeping. There will be no language barrier, as all students and adults speak English proficiently.
Housing for our team will likely be in the newly-established local Youth Center, where we will hold frequent voluntary after-school hours. These hours will be crucial and extremely beneficial on the weekends, when there is more time for students to explore the XO laptop in a non-academic setting. We will be there to provide technical assistance, which we anticipate may include typing, or answering other functional questions.
Internet connection is not available in the immediate area, but it is available in Kampala. We consider this internet limitation a blessing in disguise; the internet will not serve as a constant distraction to the children, but will still be available when we need it to explore research and communication opportunities. The possibility of field trips into the city of Kampala for this purpose will be discussed and arranged with school authorities and SUFA. We are currently exploring sponsorship from the local telecom to install free public wifi at the Youth Center.
We want to use the different types of media and XO programs (video, photo, sounds, programming, typing) to reinforce creative thinking, logic, and self-expression. However, beyond fostering creativity and self-expression, these programs will serve as a reinforcement of the concepts learned in the classroom. Through collaboration with teachers, we want to have a series of large projects assigned to the kids.
Examples of projects may include:
- Creating a documentary involving friends and family.
- A research project (using internet access) that involves presenting a topic of interest to classmates, younger students, and/or community members
- Filming a short movie that depicts a moral or value.
- Creating a business plan in groups and executing it (this would involve numbers, typing and modeling).
- Drawing individually on XO based on a main premise, then putting drawings together chronologically to create a story.
- Out-of-class discussion-debates on philosophical or logic-related subjects introduced in class (two or more students would initiate conversation, then type up a summary of their interactions).
- Write a story or fable in third person (typed), record the story and add sound effects using audio, then paint several pictures to illustrate it. Final stories can be presented daily during a "story time" session.
- Learning how to program. This will be an important unit to show students that they are capable of giving orders to their computer.
Other projects will emphasize cultural, economic, and political issues relevant to their everyday life:
- Health Care: HIV/Aids, Malaria, sanitation, etc.
- Child Labor and Parenting
- Skills Training: including cookery, carpentry and tailoring
Depending on the content of each project, a different approach will be used. Some we will let the kids have free reign while others we will focus on educating the teachers first, who will facilitate the knowledge transfer to students. Still others, we will explore having older mentors teach younger students in a paired relationship. The ultimate goal is to nurture the creativity of students and empower them with the feeling that they can be agents of change by learning on their own.
At the end of every major project, students will be able to share their work with the rest of the class. Knowing that their work will be presented to others will create incentive for the students to try their best, and to seek involvement or assistance from others. The process of presenting will also strengthen students' presentation skills, which are an essential component to communication. Most projects will be done in groups, to encourage interaction and brainstorming.
Our efforts will be sustained after we leave by a joint effort between SUFA and school teachers. Teachers will continue integrating the XO regularly in the classroom, while SUFA pledges to provide funding to hire IT experts who can contribute by maximizing the usability of the XO for students. Since there are many schools in this area, there is the possibility for independent expansion, carried out by the teachers and SUFA or joint-endeavors with future OLPCorps Africa teams. Additionally, the proximity of the schools to the urban city makes it easy to partner with local universities for help with IT, computer science instruction, and educational outreach.
 NGO Letter of Recommendation
- Neil Howard, Trustee - Stand Up For Africa, Tel: +44 (0) 7503 295 127
Our Support Letter may be downloaded in PDF format.
Our current budget may be downloaded in PDF Format.