OLPCorps UPC Burkina Faso
We are a group from the Facultat d’Informàtica de Barcelona of the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC), in Spain, formed by professors and graduate students, actively collaborating with the Higher School of Informatics of the Polytechnic University of Bobo-Dioulasso (UPB), in Burkina Faso, for the past 4 years. Our collaboration consists of offering teaching assistance, including master and undergraduate courses (about 6-8 missions each year), as well as offering technical infrastructure support for the university campus. We are funded by the Center of Cooperation for Development (CCD) of UPC.
The next step in the UPC-UPB cooperation is to create a Software Development Center where students from the UPB will participate in open source projects catering to the needs of local public and private entities. Our goal is to provide the students with real hands-on experience with open source software and give them the foundations for a practical career in IT. We plan on focusing on XOs and applications tailored for their specific hardware. The affordable cost of the platform, its open-source principles, and the continuing efforts for providing children and schools in Africa with these laptops, ensures the interest for XO applications and makes it an attractive platform for application development.
During our missions, the group has visited several primary and secondary schools around the city of Bobo-Dioulasso (both in-city and in the rural area) and gained experience in the education process of Burkina Faso. This has been important for our better understanding of the academic background of the students that we teach. In addition, we have carried out, with the help of an NGO in Barcelona, a couple of projects with the primary public school of Bindougousso in order to improve the conditions of the school (construction of exterior areas so that kids can do some academic activities outside of the teaching room) and preparation of teaching material (copybooks for writing and mathematics). Teachers in the Bindougosso school are extremely motivated for improving their education activities. For her motivation and involvement, the teaching excellence of our main contact, Ms. Eleonore Dandjinou has been recognized with a national honorific distinction in education.
1. Set up a summer school for the children in primary school, from mid June until mid August. The summer school will count with the participation of teachers of the school, members of the UPC team, which includes three graduate students, and computer science students and professors from UPB.
2. Provide the children in the primary school of Bindougousso with laptops to work on and get in touch with current technologies, and at the same time bring them in contact with university students working at the Center. This will allow them to consider the XOs not only as an educational tool, but also as a means of a future professional career thus peaking their interest and providing them with enough reasons to ensure a constructive use of the laptops.
3. Start the operation of the Software Development Center using XOs. We are confident that the school and the Center can mutually benefit from the availability of the laptops. The summer school will be a great incentive for the students working at the Center. Having an install base for the platform they will be working on will motivate them to create real applications useful for the children and their education.
Viability of the proposal:
1. Our successful collaboration with Prof. Mesmin Dandjinou of UPB during the 4 years of our cooperation in Burkina Faso and the previous projects with Ms. Eleonore Dandjinou, along with her interest and commitment in education, as witnessed by members of our group who visited her school, has left us very optimistic for the fulfillment of OLPC's goals there, should we be able to provide them with the XO laptops.
2. Ms. Dandjinou personally knows most of her students and their families and she is confident that she will be able to persuade, if not all, at least most of the children to attend the two-month course during the summer months.
3. The Center will provide us with a means to constantly offer new content for the children, keep in touch with their educative process and ensure the use of these new educational paradigms, even during the periods of our absence from the country. We also count with additional help from teachers in primary schools in Barcelona (Spain) to prepare material in conjunction with teachers in Bobo-Dioulasso.
Finally, on top of the OLPCorps project, it would be a pleasure for us to extend our collaboration in the set up of the Software Development Center in the UPB of Burkina Faso. Creating a native software development group for the XO is a great opportunity to give an impulse to the project.