Description of the XO Rainbow Nation Project in South Africa
Rainbow Nation is an attempt at making the XO integrate with the needs and culture of indigenous rural children in South Africa. As university engineering students, of the University of Kwa Zulu Natal, we are among the relatively privileged people in our beautiful developing country. We applaud the efforts of the OLPC foundation for trying to enrich the learning experience of underprivileged children. However we have identified the need for profound localization that wont just be accomplished by language translation.
Our aim is to minimize the learning curve experienced by learners during their first contact with computers. Acknowledging that the only hope for most of these children learning with a computer, is in the form of the XO. As such we are endeavoring to create applications native to the XO to do just this. The first application that we wish to create is a lexicon defining common computer principles and words in the form of simple to understand analogies. A good example of this is the explanation of the mouse pointer.Translated into Zulu, our indigenous language, we would harness words and graphics and show the learner that it is an extension of their finger and a means by which he /she can interact with what is shown on screen. By having an XO on hand this will enable us to assess the way children utilize it, especially their problems, difficulties and suggestions so that we may address these through software solutions. We believe this would significantly increase the rate at which children here will become familiar with the XO.
Another aim of ours is to spread the news of the XO to other potential developers here. I have personally approached students of my university's computer science faculty who were very keen about contributing to the development of the XO, after I held a small seminar discussing it. We also hope to spread the news amongst rural school teachers and learners, whose views and opinions count in influencing our government to actively implement OLPC's programme in our beloved country.