OLPCorps UNAM Namibia
With support from SchoolNet Namibia and the Ministry of Education Omusati Region, our team of four graduate and undergraduate students from universities in Namibia, the US, and the UK will come together this June to bring 100 XOs to children and teachers at Mupewa Primary School in the northern region of Namibia. Our team will work closely with the teachers of Mupewa Primary School to empower them with the confidence and skills to integrate XOs into their classrooms, thereby expanding and brightening the opportunities for their students to learn and succeed.
Who: Team of 2 Namibians and 2 Americans
When: June 21st to August 21st
Where: Oshikuku, Omusati Region, northern Namibia
What: Deployment of 100 XOs to students and teachers for integration into classrooms
Partner Organization: SchoolNet Namibia
Partner School: Mupewa Primary School
- 540 Students in Grades 1-7 (ages 6-12)
- Students will be in school until end of August
- Language of Instruction: English
- Has power and internet connectivity
- Will be provided by our technical lead, Randee Kastner, during deployment
- Will be provided by SchoolNet Namibia during and after deployment
Who will receive 230 kg shipment: Ministry of Education Omusati Regional Office
Jenna Frydman is currently a senior at the University of Illinois, studying International Studies and Psychology. In 2007, Jenna served as an English and ICT instructor at a secondary school in a rural village in the Omusati Region of northern Namibia. She has also traveled extensively throughout Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and most recently, Burkina Faso. In the fall, Jenna will spend a semester at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel, after which she hopes to return to Africa with the Peace Corps before pursuing a graduate degree in International Education.
Absalom “Kap-Kap” Kahumba has a Bachelor’s Degree in Education from the University of Namibia and two years of teaching experience at schools in the Omusati Region of northern Namibia. He is currently pursuing a Masters in Agriculture: Rangeland Resources Management at the University of Namibia.
Randee Kastner is a graduate of the Johns Hopkins University and currently an IT Specialist and Research Associate at the Center for Medical Technology Policy. In 2007, Randee served as a science and ICT instructor at a secondary school in Katutura, Namibia. She has also has traveled extensively throughout Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Mozambique. In the fall, Randee will begin a graduate program in International Health and Infectious Disease Epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
Monika-Megameno Shilongo served on the Learners Representative Council for the Academic Boards at Shaanika Nashilongo Senior Secondary School and is currently studying for a Diploma in HIV Management, Clinical and Counseling Education at the University of Namibia.
750 Word Proposal
Mupewa Primary School is located in Oshikuku, a rural village in the Omusati Region of northern of Namibia. There are 540 students at the school in Grades 1-7 (ages 6-12), with 35-40 students in each class. Students at this school are bright, curious, and hardworking, and the teachers, parents, and administration are equally committed to providing the children with an excellent education. Despite their best wishes and efforts, however, the lack of resources available to the children and their teachers severely limits both their learning potential and their opportunities for success. The school is fortunate in that it is already equipped with power and wireless internet connectivity, as well as a computer lab which was built through the efforts of the parents. However, the computer lab currently has only two computers, one which is used exclusively by the librarian for administrative purposes, and another which is shared by all 17 teachers. Therefore, though the school has a computer lab, the students have no access to computers. When the teachers at Mupewa were first notified that this could soon change with the prospective deployment of 100 XO laptops for their students, naturally they were thrilled. Yet they also showed us that rather than simply accepting the computers with open arms, they would take the XOs and use them as tools for improving the learning opportunities for their students. Several teachers have already shared with us their ideas for projects and after-school programs using the laptops. One teacher, in fact, has been in daily contact with our team through e-mail, communicating on behalf of her colleagues the necessary information about the school as well as insightful ideas and plans for how we can make the project most effective. Given the high level of commitment to this project as has already been demonstrated by the principal and teachers, we have no doubt that our partnership with Mupewa Primary School will give way to a successful and sustainable project.
SchoolNet Namibiais a local hands-on ICT deployment, training and support organization, established to empower youth through the Internet and provide a sustainable low-cost technology solution for Internet to all Namibian schools. SchoolNet has become a lead organization in national ICT policy-making in Namibia and the Namibian government has recognized SchoolNet Namibia as a key player in the roll-out of ICTs in education and job creation. The Executive Director of SchoolNet Namibia, Joris Komen, has pledged the organization’s support of our OLPC initiative at Mupewa Primary School as well as SchoolNet’s willingness to provide logistic and technical support to our deployment.
XOs can be incredibly powerful tools for independent learning. We believe that teachers, if armed with the confidence and skills, can increase the power of these machines even further, enhancing their potential not only for independent learning, but also for collaborative class learning. Therefore, the focus of our project at Mupewa Primary School will be on working with the teachers to empower them with the skills and confidence to integrate XOs into their classrooms. We aim to accomplish this through teacher training workshops held after school, and through working with the children and supporting their teachers in the classrooms during school. Additionally, we will work with the teaching staff and any interested community members to design an after-school program that incorporates the XOs.
XOs in the Classroom
At the center of our project will be a teacher training workshop which will be held 2-3 days per week after school for 10 weeks. During the first two weeks of the workshop, our team will introduce the XOs to the teachers and give them basic training in the use of the laptops and their core activities. Slowly, we will expose them to more and more resources, such as Google, Wikipedia, teaching resource websites, e-mail, blogging, and more. We will spend the next several weeks working with the teachers to design projects and lesson plans which integrate the XOs into their respective curricula. While we have already accessed the curriculum that Mupewa follows and plan to bring a number of relevant example projects to show the teachers, our goal is that the teachers will develop the skills and confidence to design projects utilizing the XOs entirely on their own, even before our team leaves.
Classroom Instruction and Support
During the first five weeks of the project, we will spend our time during school hours in the classrooms, teaching students how to use the laptops, allowing them to explore and become comfortable with all of the activities built into them, and engaging them in a wide range of hands-on collaborative activities and projects. During the second five weeks, while we continue to work with the teachers during the after-school sessions, we will also support them in their classrooms as they begin to implement the XO-integrated projects and lessons they have designed.
XOs at Home
All the students who receive laptops will be able to take them home each day after school and on the weekends. Our team would also like to introduce an incentive program to the school, which will give the students who don’t receive their own XOs the chance to take an XO home for the night or weekend as well. Each day, Monday through Thursday, “Learners of the Day” from each class or grade, as chosen by their teachers according to constructionist criteria, will get to take an XO from the XO Library home for the night. On Fridays, “Learners of the Week” from each class or grade will get to take home an XO for the weekend. In addition to giving every child at the school the opportunity to bring an XO home, we believe this incentive program may help to improve attendance, student achievement, and adherence to constructionist principles by both teachers and students.
XOs After School
The scope of the after-school program will depend heavily on the teachers, their interests, and their level of commitment, as ultimately, they will be the ones to run the program. At minimum, the program will provide students with the time and resources (internet connectivity and power, which many students don’t have at home) to freely explore their XOs and the world that their XOs connect them to. That said, several teachers have already expressed their interest in running an after-school program involving the XOs, and have volunteered ideas such as a Spelling Club, Debate Club, Science Club, and integrating the XOs into their pre-existing Windows of Hope HIV/AIDS club. Once on site, our team will work with the teachers and other interested community members to develop an effective XO after-school program that incorporates their ideas. Furthermore, we will create a rotation schedule whereby students who do not receive their own XOs will be invited on specific days to join and learn from the students who do.
XO Allocation Plan
100 XOs…540 children. How can we possibly achieve OLPC’s goals of Child Ownership and Saturation without anyone being left out? We’ve come up with a plan to achieve both of these goals and many more.
Target Classes (73 XOs)
With average class sizes of 35-40 students, only two classes can be fully saturated with XOs. We’ve decided for a number of reasons to target the two Grade 3 classes, which together have a total of 73 students. First of all, we believe that while it may be easier to introduce computers to older students, such as those in Grade 7, the XOs can bring a very important and positive change to the ways children learn and develop, and thus should be given to them as early as possible. Additionally, by giving the XOs to younger rather than older students, we can ensure that the XOs will stay in the school, where we will have created an infrastructure for them, longer. We chose Grade 3 over Grades 1 and 2 because we feel that although students at Mupewa begin learning English and through English medium of instruction in Grade 1, the language barrier may be too significant still in Grades 1 and 2. Finally, one of the Grade 3 teachers has already proved to be a leader in this initiative, and we believe that as one of the first teachers to have a class saturated with XOs, she will become an important role model and resource for the other teachers as they integrate the XOs into their classrooms. Thus, for all of these reasons, the 73 students in Grade 3 will each receive their own XO.
Teachers (17 XOs)
All 17 teachers will be invited and encouraged to participate in our teacher training workshop, and will each be given an XO for the duration of the workshop. Every teacher that participates fully in the workshop and by the end has created a portfolio of projects or lesson plans to use in their classes will be given a 1-year renewable contract to keep their XOs. If every teacher fulfills these requirements and signs a contract, 17 XOs will go to the teachers. While the two teachers of the Grade 3 target classes will be teaching classes which have XOs all day, every day, the rest of the teachers will be teaching classes which have XOs for only 2 hours per week, according to a rotation schedule explained below. Not only will these teachers be able to use the XOs that they are given to plan projects and activities for those 2 hours per week that their classes have XOs, they will also be encouraged to use their XOs as a resource in planning projects and lessons for their classes that do not have XOs.
XO Library (10+ XOs)
The remaining laptops, of which there will be a minimum of 10, will go to the XO Library. We are currently in the process of fundraising and writing grant proposals in the hopes of securing funds to double the number of XOs for the library. During the school day, a rotation schedule will be followed, whereby each class will have 2 hours per week with the XOs. These 2 hour time slots will coincide with various subject classes, such as math, science, English, etc., and as such, the XOs will be utilized for projects and lessons in those subjects. After school, “Learners of the Day” or “Learners of the Week” from each class or grade will get to check out XOs from the library to take home for the night or weekend.
The impact that our proposed project will have on the children of Mupewa Primary School is immeasurable. 73 children, most of whom have never owned anything in their lives, will receive their very own laptops. These laptops alone will open up a world of opportunities for them. They will allow the children to take control of their own learning, and explore and develop their own interests. The XOs will make it possible for these children to gain knowledge that they might otherwise never be exposed to and cognitive skills they might otherwise never develop. The impact of our plan will not end with these 73 children, however, because each has siblings, parents, and neighbors with whom they will want to share their XOs. Beyond the 73 children who receive their own XOs, each of the 540 children at Mupewa Primary School will have the opportunity to learn with the XOs each week in their math, science, English, Oshindonga, social studies, life skills, and art classes. Paint, Write, Speak, Record, Browse, Chat, Polls, Etoys, Caclulate, Measure, and Turtle Art (among others) will become a regular part of their lessons. These activities in conjunction with the training we will provide the teachers with will help them to make concepts more clear and intuitive for their students, while at the same time encouraging creativity, critical thinking and collaboration. We believe that the project we have proposed will improve the quality of education at Mupewa Primary School, and ultimately the opportunities for its students to succeed and affect change.
Sustainability of our project will be achieved and ensured through a number of different channels. The first channel will be the teachers of Mupewa Primary School. As the key actors in this initiative, they will be handed over ownership of the project long before our team departs. The teachers have already demonstrated their dedication and enthusiasm through their incredible support during the design stage of this proposal, and we are confident that their dedication and enthusiasm will only grow once the project takes shape at their school. The second channel responsible for the sustainability of the project will be a committee comprised of teachers, administrators, and parents who will oversee the project and make decisions regarding its progress and any issues that may arise. Outside of the immediate community, the Ministry of Education’s Omusati Regional Director, who is responsible for overseeing all of the schools in the Omusati Region, has enthusiastically pledged her support for this initiative and agreed to provide oversight and logistical assistance both during and after the deployment stage. Our partner organization, SchoolNet Namibia, will also continue to provide logistical and technical support to the school beyond the deployment phase, further ensuring the project’s sustainability. Finally, because half of our deployment team consists of Namibians who will remain in the country and often visit Oshikuku, our team itself will maintain general oversight to ensure that the OLPC initiative and our proposal’s vision are maintained for years to come.