OLPCorps SouthernMethodistUniversity Uganda
|Megan Walker||Engineering Management Information and Systems; Economics||Social Actions Volunteer, Kanti Children's Hospital, Kathmandu Nepal|
|Allison Griffin||Engineering Management Information and Systems; Master in Operations Research||Currently works for The Engineering Department of SMU|
|Carly Laywell||International Studies with an emphasis on African and Middle Eastern Studies||Extensive work teaching and enabling children around the world in Thailand, Argentina, and Brazil|
|Brian Kwesiga||Electrical Engineering International Studies||Brian will be our local technical support for any advanced issues that may arise. Although Brian is not an official member of the team he will be in Mubende District and Kampala for the duration of the project and his family that lives in Mubende District will be offering continued technical support for the sustainment of the project once we leave.|
Kasumba Primary School and St. Zoe
Our team from Southern Methodist University will deploy one hundred XO laptops to Kasumba Primary School and St. Zoe Primary School in Central Uganda. While both schools are located in the rural Mubende District, Kasumba is situated in Mubende Town proper whereas St. Zoe is more remote. Deploying laptops to both schools will promote increased saturation in the community. It will also provide an opportunity to compare end results and assess technique strategies employed in differing environments. Children will be in school from May 25 to August 12, and each school’s administration has allotted time within their schedules for the express use of OLPCorps. The language of instruction is English. Our classmate and local technical partner Brian Kwesiga, however, is a native of Uganda and will help us navigate any linguistic or cultural matters that may arise. In addition, Brian has family in Mubende and Kampala that are extremely enthusiastic about supporting and maintaining the project.
We have established a relationship with the schools through frequent emails and phone conversations and share an understanding that giving children opportunities to create a life that will fulfill their creative imaginations and feed their appetite for discovery is imperative to this project. Mubende district has a long record of poor academic performance. This situation is exacerbated by the fact that, of twenty-one primary schools serving nearly ten thousand children aged six to fourteen, there are only 14 computers, used primarily for administrative purposes. St. Zoe Primary School has never had computer access, though they are outfitted with solar panels. Kasumba Primary School has one computer and is equipped with electricity as well as Internet access.
Our team’s efforts at Kasumba Nursery and Primary Schools and St. Zoe Primary School will serve a two-fold purpose. The principal goal is to bridge the education gap between rural Mubende children and their urban peers. The deployment of XO’s to these two schools will provide increased exposure to technology as well as an impetus for individual creativity and intellectual curiosity on the part of the student. By equipping students with the means to continue their learning experience outside of the traditional classroom environment, XO’s will enable them not only to explore new media and ideas but also to improve upon fundamental subjects such as mathematics, English, and science. The computer literacy students gain will make them more capable and contributive members of both Uganda and the world at large in this increasingly digital age.
Equally important is our goal to empower children as meaningful participants in their communities and catalysts for lasting change. Children under the age of fourteen comprise nearly 50% of the Ugandan population. During the formative years of their youth, they will develop the character traits that will define their futures, as well as that of their nation. For this reason, we have chosen “Ebyuma” (Luganda for “tools”) as the overarching theme of our curriculum in Mubende. The theme will first be introduced in regards to the XO’s: they are tools for education, exploration, and innovation. This idea will culminate in the application of our lives as tools to fix, solve, build, and create. Children will be challenged to identify specific ways in which they can be Ebyuma- their voice in song using RECORD, their thoughts in writing using WRITE, their point of view through drawing in TURTLEART. Tentative curriculum is as follows:
Weeks 1-2: Introduction of XO’s
• Identification of computer parts and their usage
• Proper care of XO’s
Weeks 2-5: Basic Software
• Sugar: Read, Write, Camera, Record, Movies, Calculate, Turtleart, etc.
Week 5-8: Projects
• “Putting Mubende On the Map”: Children will use Measure to determine distance between locations and plot them on a map, encouraging community and peer involvement.
• “Ebyuma”: Children will express how to use their lives as tools for positive change through a presentation and software of their choosing.
Following our departure in August, the staff of Kasumba and St. Zoe Primary Schools will provide continued support to teachers in the surrounding area ensuring the project’s sustainability as well as potential for growth. We have further discussed plans to extend this program to the children in the remaining 19 primary schools in Mubende. This would entail strategically splitting Mubende into four zones, allowing schools that do not have electricity or the means to maintain computers to partner with schools in their zone that do. Funding for these initiatives will be sought from the SMU Human Rights Program and Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering. Brian Kwesiga's family in Mubende will be able to offer continued technical support to Kasumba Primary School and St. Zoe once we leave in August.