OLPC KENYA Introduction
5/14/2006 - Joshua Kinuthia
I believe that the one laptop per child initiative is not only one of the 21st century's most ingenious inventions but also a God sent catalyst for the children in developing countries to actively & positively contribute to the world economy now and in years to come; all the while providing the much needed vessel to accomplish the 2nd and 8th goal of the Milenium Development Goals.
2010 February 12 - Robert Braxton
In 2008 July our small group delivered six One Laptop Per Child G1G1 XO systems to a primary school in Kenya. In 2009 July we transported one hundred of OLPCorps and worked with primary school administration and teachers on training, all but standard eight, which was sitting for national examinations.
OLPC KENYA and MDG's
5/14/2006 - Joshua Kinuthia
What is the goal of the one laptop per child initiative??
1. Will the implementation of the one laptop per child initiative increase the net enrolment of boys and girls in primary education.
1.1 And how does the one laptop per child initiative intend to achieve this??
2. Will it increase the proportion of pupils starting grade 1 to grade 5. And how will it acheive this??
2.2 Esentially, will it ensure that children everywhere boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling.
NEPAD e-school program and OLPC compatability
5/23/2006 - khassounah
In fact the OLPC initiative is compatible with the NEPAD initiative. In the short term (the first five years) the focus of NEPAD is secondary education, while OLPC's primary focus is elementary education.
Countries, and Nigeria specifically, adopting the OLPC initiative is very compatible in terms of goals with the NEPAD e-school initiative. On the execution side, the hundred dollar laptop could offers a practical option for implementing the goals of the NEPAD initiative.
Nigeria's or Egypt's working with such a program, would only help those countries gain practical experience on planning and implementing such an initiative. Even if this is not the technology of choice for NEPAD in elementary education, the experience is still very relevant and reusable.
OLPC implementation in Kenya
5/26/2006 - Joshua Kinuthia
Mr. Khaled Hassounah, thank you for your response. I believe that the OLPC initiative is the best thing since the wheel, the reality is that despite its potential there are many things that may hinder its implementation in some African countries. I come from Kenya and having lived here all my life I know how things work. The government is still corrupt [no matter what the Government says(read the Traansparency International 2005 report)]and will only partake in projects that have kickbacks. I may sound pessimistic but its reality in the ground. The Kenyan Ministry of Education is yet to release reports on the progress of the NEPAD e-shcools initiative (launched in 27th September 2005 here in Kenya, by the President himself). Another factor is the conglomerate of companies bringing their expertise to the table (Microsoft, HP) they may not be for the idea (OLPC uses opensource software) beacuse thier interests may not catereed for. There is also the practical issue of bringing up children using Linux(Fedora) all through their primary education and making them change to Windows in their Secondaary education. These are just the issues that need to be dealt with, otherwise I will continue to be an OLPC proponent until the day I particpate in making the OLPC Goal a reality in Kenya.
Corruption, commercial interest and platform
6/2/2006 - khassounah
Corruption is a real issue that we will deal with in whatever development work we do in any part of the world, that is never a reason to stop doing it. You will not be able (at least in the short to medium term) to solve the issue of corruption, but you can curb it and minimize its effect. The initiative being very high profile,the high level support that it receives from participating countries, and the fact that it's an education initiative will help in controlling corruption. Also getting as wide of local support and awareness as possible is going to be an effective tool.
We are purely an educational initiative. We are about providing newer and more effective learning tools and philosophies than the outdated ones that have not proved effective over the years. So us not being a laptop manufacturer, but an education initiative, makes us not overlap in principle with the commercial interest. In fact we support it by making more users familiar with technology and computing. The thing we are doing that is different though is that we are saying that taking what works in the developed world and selling it in the developing world is not going to work. More ingenuity should be applied to making technology usable in the vastly different economic, infrastructure and environmental situations.
To put things in perspective, if it was up to me, I would not really care much about what company x or y thinks when I'm thinking about the future of a whole nation. The moment we stop worrying about how this or that company will react and apply our limited ingenuity to thinking about real solution, the sooner company x or y will realize that they are just that, companies, and not governments. Naive? possibly... appropriate? definitly
Regarding platforms, that is really an argument that is often overhyped. I have two counter arguments to that one. The first, is that operating systems, and applications are more similar than we make then sound. You have a desktop, a start menu, a set of applications that you start by double clicking on them, and files in folders on a hard disk, flash memory or a cd-rom. Using another operating system is just like buying another make of cars, you have to spend few minutes getting familiar with where the light switch is, how to honk and where the hand brake is, but then you just put it in gear and drive. You rarely stick to one make of a car because that was the first one you bought, or get horrified when you have to drive another one.
The second argument is that those kids will grow up with computers and will learn faster than you will ever imagine. If they really don't like what is on their secondary school computers, they will just install their operating system of choice ;-)
Corruption and OLPC Kenya
6/8/2006 - Joshua Kinuthia
Mr. Khaled Hassounah, thank you once again. Your reply was insightful and it helped me look at things from a different viewpoint. About corruption, I know I should be looking at the big picture and indeed i would like to but the current political climate does not allow. Every politician is looking for political mileage by undertaking "development projects" ahead of the 2007 general elections (believe it or not polititians are campaigning already!!). The OLPC website states that the machines are bought by the government and I wish that was not the case. However if policies were put in place to bypass the government and at the same time make sure that it directly benefitted the children, it would serve as an incentive for NGO's and CBO's to undertake the OLPC initiative.
Corruption and OLPC Kenya (reply)
6/9/2006 - khassounah
Joshua, you are right, dealing with the governments directly will have its drawbacks and introduce risk. There are two reasons why we are requiring that in phase one we only deal with governments:
1. The size of the deployment per country needed in phase one is large. The reason is that in order to reach a favorable price point, we will need to be able to build and distribute a large number of laptops. Few organizations other than governments have the ability to make such large investment.
2. This is an educational initiative targeting children in schools. Governments might not feel comfortable and even block such initiative if it is to be deployed widely in schools and affect education to the scale we expect it to.
That said, after we are done with phase one, we are going to become more flexible in terms of allowing other organizations to participate. Any party participating though will need to be able to address the two points above, although scale will be lesser of an issue at that point.
One more thing. NGOs and CBOs could (and probably will be needed to) participate in the deployment, both planning and execution. It is a large scale deployment and any knowledge in working with education or infrastructure on the ground will be useful and needed.
Bridging Kenya's Digital Divide
6/30/2006 - Joshua Kinuthia
In parts of the developing world, less than 1 in every 1,000 people have access to a computer compared to nearly 600 in every 1,000 in the developed world. When it comes to Africa which has a population of 884 million yet there are only 4 million internet users on the entire continent. The intent to bridge this divide is and will be a monumental task for NGO's, Corporates and the Governments. This is largely because Africa lacks the infrastructure needed to access the worldwide web. Only 9.2 per 1,000 people own a computer and there are only 32 fixed telephone lines or mobile phones per 1,000 people.
What can be done?? Well, many developing countries have poor communications infrastructure, thereby preventing connectivity, particularly in rural areas. The issue of infrastructure is a major issue as this requires long-term investment, and support from a variety of sources including governments, private sector, multilateral institutions (United Nations), financial institutions (World Bank) and the civil sector (not-for-profit). There are a number of global initiatives, such as the UN ICT Task Force and G8 Digital Opportunity Task Force (DOT Force), that are working to address these vital areas.
However, there still remains an issue of accessibility and affordability. The vast majority of schools and not-for-profits in the developing world simply do not have the financial resources to purchase new equipment. For example, brand new PCs are not a viable option for the vast majority of schools and community organisations in Kenya where 22.8% of Kenyans live on less than $1.
But how does that involve the common mwananchi(citizen)??
Bridging the Digital Divide [Will Take More Than Wires]
9/11/2006 - Joshua Kinuthia
Ok despite my earlier thoughts about bridging the digital divide becoming a success when an acceptable percentage of next generation kenyans (the child in the village sitting next to a cosy evening fire) get access to the internet. I recently read an interesting article that shed light on my myopic thinking. I ould like to share a few excerpts from it;
Closing the digital divide may take more than simply connecting low-income people to the Internet. It's once they reach cyberspace that they're really screwed, according to a report released recently.
The problem, according to the report, is "just another example of The Man keepin' po' folk down." The overall trend in Internet content and e-commerce is to target national and global communities that are wealthier and have more disposable income... the people who are actually on the Internet and can potentially buy stuff.
"A lot of this has to do with the lack of local, practical content, Gene Callahan said. "They really just want to know what's in their neighborhood, where can they get a dime bag or meet some nice bitches.
Les Sharp, a senior associate at the Barbie Benton Foundation, another non-profit organization that rants about digital divide issues says, 'You have to give poor folk a reason to use the Internet. If it's not useful to them, they might decide to waste their time job hunting, or something, instead of web surfing.'
The report recommends several steps to bridge this emerging divide, including: * Having companies about forming partnerships with low-income communities to design portals for them, or else. * Having investors and venture capitalists to develop Web sites that "target" low-income communities, so that they can later be sued for "targeting" low-income communities in their vicious quest for profit.
So what more can I add, probably say that the government should get a good implementation plan/strategy for its e-government project and not simply focus on service delivery but also a whole paradigm shift which views the mwananchi as a customer.
Bibliography: Bridging Digital Divide [Will Take More Than Wires] Content is lacking for those "not so swift" by Gene Callahan and Stu Morgenstern (July 24, 2000)