OLPCorps CMU RIT AN Nigeria
We have partnered with St. Paul's Primary School in Abak Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom, Nigeria. It is in a rural community where the main occupation is farming. Cash crops are palm tree, coconut, and cocoa, while common food crops are cassava, plaintain, yam, rice, beans, and citrus fruits. Sometimes the children collect sand from the riverbed to sell to petty traders as construction material for houses. St. Paul's was founded in 1990 by Okon's (our group member) brother Joshua, who was passionate about providing education to orphans and children from poor families. The local community embraced the school and donated the land it is built on. Local churches donated money to fund its construction. In 1997 Okon took over the management of the school along with his nephew after Joshua's death. The school serves 420 students between the ages of 2 and 14 who are taught by 10 teachers. It is housed in 3 buildings with 6 classrooms, a staff room, office, great hall, and storeroom. The language of instruction is English. The school is generally recognized as a pillar of the local community.
Okon managed the school, taught there, and pastored at a local church until 2006 when he left to study Theology at Africa Nazarene University in Kenya. In his first years, he struggled because all his exams and writing assignments required use of a computer, yet it was completely new to him. It became clear to him that students at St. Paul's would have limited opportunities if they did not have knowledge of computers. This OLPC project represents a huge opportunity for the school because it would be very difficult for them to otherwise afford 100 laptops.
We have already discussed integration with St. Paul's current proprietor, who is Okon's nephew, and the school is very excited about the opportunity to involve the laptops in the current curriculum. The laptops will be used across a variety of subjects (Math, English, Science, Social Studies, etc.), which will provide students basic familiarity in using a computer in support of their work as well as giving them new opportunities to do active research into new topics. The laptops provide unprecedented access to knowledge via the Internet and open source content. Currently, the school has a limited supply of books and learning materials.
School is in session from July to August, so the students will use the laptops during the normal class periods during the entire time our team is in the field. The laptops will likely be assigned to students on a rotating basis, giving all students a chance to use them. The laptops will be owned by the school and kept secure when not in use, but students will be able to sign them out to take them home, whenever they want.
We are uniquely positioned to successfully integrate the laptops into St. Paul's due to Okon's close ties to the school's leadership and faculty (Okon still retains the title of Education Director). The proprietor and teachers have already expressed great enthusiasm at including the laptops in the daily lessons, which is evinced by our letter of support.
Becca's (our group member) expertise in deploying computers in Africa will also boost our efforts. She has worked in computer training centers in Kenya for over a year with CNN Hero Honoree Steve Peifer, giving her first hand experience in teaching computer skills to individuals who were completely computer illiterate. Her in-progress Master's thesis is on this topic.
The school does not currently have Internet. We plan to access the Internet through the local cellular network. The school is on the power grid.
Special Project: Blogging
In addition to integration into the existing curriculum, we would like to give children the opportunity to directly effect change by teaching them to blog and video blog. Through a blog, children can teach other people around the world about issues in rural Nigeria and their hopes for the future. Very few projects give children a voice, but we want to give our children a direct platform to address the rest of the world. The project will encourage the development of writing and communication skills in the children. We plan to implement the project as a writing workshop, where children compose pieces then present them to each other in a small group setting where they can provide constructive criticism of each other's work. The final polished pieces can be posted by the children online. Bryant (our group member) will create a site hosting all the children's blogs. He has previous experience creating popular Web 2.0 sites. He will create this site with the Drupal content management system and host it on an Amazon EC2 virtual server. The virtual server will run a standard LAMP stack (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP), which is consistent with the open source ethos of OLPC and keeps our software costs at $0. Children will also be able to cross post their content to established sites such as YouTube and WordPress. The advantage of having our own site is being able to keep all the children's content in a central location and to support multiple types of content. For example, we can maintain a gallery of children's artwork (digitized via the XO webcam), a library of child-created photo/video documentaries, and so-forth.
Bryant will also install and maintain the XS school server, network switch, access points, and other hardware. He also served for 4 years on the editorial board of a literary journal in college, meaning that he has at least 100 hours of experience participating in writing workshops.
The project will continue after the summer because Okon will return to St. Paul's as a leader and teacher. He has one trimester remaining before graduation. After he graduates, he will return to live in his home near where St. Paul's is located. He will ensure a smooth continuation of the project, in conjunction with his nephew, the proprietor, and the teachers of the school.
- Internet. We have not confirmed an arrangement for Internet service as of yet, though we have talked with several ISPs and received price quotes. The exact amount of downlink/uplink bandwidth we will have is not yet known.
- None of us has long term experience using the XO per se. However, we all have good technical skills and our technical lead holds an M.S. in Computer Science from a top university.
- Okon Sunday David is a Theology student at Africa Nazarene University. He has been a member of the leadership team at St. Paul's and taught there. The proprietor is his nephew, and the school is located in his home village. He has developed significant computer knowledge during his time at Africa Nazarene and wishes to share this knowledge with the children.
- Becca Nelson is a Master's student at RIT and has extensive experience working with non-profits in Africa. She has specifically worked at computer training centers in Kenya. She has been profiled in the RIT University News (http://www.rit.edu/news/?v=46650) and Associations Now Magazine (http://www.asaecenter.org/PublicationsResources/ANowDetail.cfm?ItemNumber=34731)
- Bryant Lee holds an M.S. in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University and is currently in the Ph.D. program. He has created and maintained previous Web 2.0 sites and has managed computer servers. His most popular site was http://www.votechooser.com, a site to help people choose a candidate in the 2008 election. It was used by 1.4 million people and appeared in major televion, radio, and print outlets in the Pittsburgh area (e.g. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJ5N9Vifong). He has published numerous scientific papers. For more media appearances and a list of scientific papers see http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~bryantl
June 8 - 17: Kigali, Rwanda
June 18 - August 20: St. Paul's Primary School, Abak Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom, Nigeria
Our local library has a subscription to Foundation Center (http://foundationcenter.org/), which we will use to search over 95,000 potential donors and query those that make sense for our project.
| Airfare Bryant
(total cost is $4000 but Bryant will raise $2000 in private donations to defray)
| Airfare: Okon
|Food (10 weeks)||$1000|
|Accomodations||Free (at Okon's house)|
|In-country transportation (10 weeks)||$100|
|Surge protectors, power strips, wiring||$200|
|Team cell phone||$25|
|Cell phone credit||$30|
|2 Wireless access points and 1 network switch||$100 (used/refurbished)|
|Additional SD memory cards (to store photos/video)||$100|
|Flash memory camcorder (to take higher quality video)||$200|
|Lavalier microphone (for high quality audio)||$50|
|1 virtual server on Amazon EC2 and bandwidth to server (10 weeks)||$250|
|Software||Free (open source)|
|Electricity from grid to power laptops and equipment (3 months, $60 per month)||$180|
|MTN 3.5G Mobile Broadband USB Modem||$250|
|MTN Nigeria Internet service (3 months, $70 per month)||$210|