OLPCorps BTH Ethiopia
We are a team of two post graduate students at the Blekinge Institute of Technology, Sweden. We are partnering with a local NGO, named Ratson, which is working on community based development program in the city of Debre Zeit, Oromia region, in Ethiopia.
Ratson's mission is to improve the deep rooted development problems of target communities living in the country especially women, youth and children by promoting genuine participation of the target constituent and all stakeholders through community based rural and urban development programmes. Ratson currently supports eight elementary schools of which four are in the rural part of the city of Debre Zeit.
We are aiming to focus on bring change in the rural areas as they are the ones with the greatest gap with technology. Based on the OLPC requirement, Ratson has selected the Ude elementary school for deployment of the laptops. Ude elementary school students will be on break between June-August. Our local partner, Ratson, has assured us to make the students available in school during the summer as the students live close to the school. All of the students are able to speak in Amharic, the official language, but some of the student’s mother tongue is Oromifa. The deployment team is native speakers of Amharic language. We will be assisted by facilitators capable of speaking both Amharic and Oromifa to better communicate with the children in their regional language. The facilitators are volunteer teachers from the school who would assist us in the learning activities as well.
We need to bring technology to the most rural parts so that the people’s awareness changes significantly. Due to the enormous number of students, we will be selecting students by giving emphasis on gender equality. Ratson has promised to provide educational materials that can be digitized and easily accessed by the children by the XO laptops. We are planning to teach the children art, English, math, basic document formatting and HTML formatting using the XO laptop. We are planning to focus in the age range 9-12 since it is easier to make them focused. Participating children of this age is critical to self development and nurtures learning activity by enhancing their creativity.
We plan to make the children the agents of change by letting them pick a friend in their class and share the knowledge they have acquired. We believe this would have two main benefits; knowledge transfer and measuring the impact of change by observing the progress of the knowledge gain by the additional students.
In addition to focusing on the children, we are planning to conduct TOT training for the teachers on using the Internet for gathering information and use the laptops as an additional learning medium. We have also included optional activities that will be implemented depending on the availability of remaining funding after the major activities.
Planning to make a project sustainable is of paramount importance in a development project such as this one. Ratson has promised to support the continuity of the project after the deployment. The school has pledged to continue to pay the Internet subscription provided that the connection is setup. Ratson will monitor and provide technical assistance in digitizing education materials and training of the teachers after the deployment. Ratson is engaged in financially supporting university students. We are planning to provide hands on training on troubleshooting and maintenance of the XO laptops to volunteer university students. This will allow the children with an easily accessible local support in case of fixable equipment failures or software upgrade requirements.
Ratson will promote the visions of the OLPC project as one form of increasing access to education and will work in the future with donors to increase laptop ownership within the school. After the successful deployment of the project, we will advocate the OLPC initiative back in our university and try to do a fundraising for purchasing additional XO laptops.