OLPCorps Georgetown Kenya

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The Team


Sarah Ancas: Georgetown University, School of Foreign Service, 2009.


Leslie Gordon: Georgetown University, College of Arts and Sciences, 2009 and University of London, School of Oriental and African Studies, MSc Candidate, 2010.


As two African studies students at Georgetown who studied abroad in Tanzania in 2007, we already have experience working with local people and initiatives. We both speak intermediate-level Kiswahili and have closely studied the social and political culture of East Africa in classes at Georgetown and abroad.


Image:Leslie&SarahinTanzaniasmall.jpg

Our Project


We will deploy the laptops in partnership with the Children of Kibera Foundation (CofK), directed by Kenneth Okoth, Assistant Professor of African Studies at Georgetown University and native of Kibera. We plan to distribute 75 laptops to the Red Rose School in Kibera and 25 to the Salve Regina School, located 15 kilometers outside of Nairobi in the Kiambu district.


About Red Rose:


The Red Rose School is administered and funded by CoKF. Red Rose is located in Nairobi's largest slum and its students are among the most vulnerable youth in Kenya. It serves 75 children between the ages of 6-12 who will be in school throughout July, with summer programs through mid-August. Red Rose already has a few PC laptops with wireless capabilities which have shown amazing results that we hope to amplify.



About Salve Regina:


Salve Regina is a small, underfunded school serving extremely disadvantaged students, and has previously received books and supplies from CoKF. It has approximately 25 students between the ages of 6-12, none of whom have any computer access. We have been in contact with Greg Karungo, Salve Regina's Director, who assured us that the school has one teacher who is computer-literate that will serve as the project point-person.



Benefits:


Red Rose's limited access to computers has produced marked and tangible benefits for its students. School retention and attendance have increased as a result of computer access, providing students with a creative and interactive outlet that also yields marketable life skills. The students and teachers at Red Rose use technology to share their stories through blogs, photo albums, penpal programs, and online books, and to access free online educational materials which would otherwise be prohibitively expensive. The XO laptops would scale-up access within the existing projects and allow the students to more easily connect with each other and forge relationships with students outside their community. Using the successful blueprint from Red Rose, we can transplant a similar program to Salve Regina, where the lack of computers has prohibited this type of venture.


Work Plan:


The 75 laptops at the Red Rose School can remain in the school's secure computer lab when not at home for the students' project work. Many teachers at Red Rose are already trained on PC and Apple computers, and we are confident that we can train them on the XO laptops upon receiving the OLPC training. We will also hire and train a computer teacher who could continue classes after our departure, and we allocated a year's salary for this in our budget, as well as the necessary funds to pay for the extra electricity the computers would require. We see this aspect of the project as a critical part of continuity and creating local ownership of this effort.


We will work systematically to integrate the XO laptops into the existing technology-related programs at Red Rose. Our experience with internet-based social networking and research will help us work with Red Rose's teachers and administrators to incorporate projects into the curriculum and after-school activities. Project themes of their own choosing will allow students to engage their community, both locally and outside their borders, to learn more about themselves and others and research areas of their own interest.


Our second program site is the Salve Regina School. At Salve Regina we will work simultaneously with teachers and students, who will be in school through the end of July; the teachers will be available for additional training in August. We will help the teachers develop a curriculum that uses the laptops and allows the students to pursue their own interests while expanding their academic horizons. The students can take the laptops home to use among their local community as part of their academic exploration.


We believe fully in CoKF's mission to empower vulnerable students through education and we hope that these laptops, as well as our work plan to help students use the internet for educational and cultural exchange, will add to the positive affect that CoKF is having in Kenya.


Budget:

Item Total
Airfare for Leslie, DC-Kigali-Nairobi-DC $2,000
Airfare for Sarah, DC-Kigali-Nairobi-DC $2,000
Sublet of a 2 bedroom flat in Nairobi $600/month= $1,200
Food and Transportation in Nairobi for both team members $1,500
Salary for the New Computer Teacher $200/month= $2,400 for a year's salary
Extra Electricity for the Computer Lab $900
Full Total $10,000




Letter of Support from our partner organization, Children of Kibera:


My name is Kenneth Okoth and I am the founder of the Children of Kibera Foundation (CoKF). CoKF is a registered 501c3 non-profit in Washington DC, whose operations and programs in Kenya focus on improving educational opportunities for orphans and vulnerable children who live in extreme poverty within the Kibera slums in Nairobi. This letter is to communicate the commitment of CoKF be the project partner organization for deploying 100 XO laptops with the Georgetown University Kenya Team of Leslie Gordon and Sarah Ancas. CoKF has been in existence since 2007 and will serve from the introduction through the long-term implementation as an important supporter for the XO laptops project to succeed in benefiting some of the most under-served school-children in Kenya.


I taught Leslie and Sarah in my Intermediate Swahili Language and Culture course at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service in 2008. They were dedicated, driven, and resourceful students who I have been proud to maintain an ongoing mentoring relationship with. Their past experience studying in South Africa and Tanzania, plus their ability to communicate in the Swahili language used alongside English in Kenya, will make them very effective in implementing this project. The pre-established relationships that I have with Leslie and Sarah, as well as the experiences of CoKF with its successful pilot computer lab project with a dozen laptops at the Red Rose School in Kibera will ensure our continued cooperation in the future and provide a solid and beneficial partnership for the children of Kenya. Leslie and Sarah have shown a good understanding of the requirements of this endeavor and I am convinced that they are both prepared to successfully carry out this project.


CoKF provides major funding support and other programs to the Red Rose School in Kibera, providing vital resources for elementary education to more that 140 orphans and vulnerable children from the slums. We also run a highly selective scholarship program for talented teenagers, with 15 of our scholars receiving full financial support to attend leading boarding schools around Nairobi. We have invaluable connections, relationships, and a reputation within the community in Kibera that we will use to make sure that the team of Leslie and Sarah from Georgetown will be successful from day one on the ground. CoKF has already supported Leslie and Sarah by identifying two easily accessible schools with good management where the team can deploy the laptops: the Red Rose School in Kibera and the Salve Regina School in Kiambu. The Red Rose School is run and financed with the support of CoKF. The Salve Regina School is run independently, but CoKF has worked with them in the past and provided them with resources. Both schools have excellent administration and will absolutely be able to use this opportunity to its full potential.


The CoKF has the facilities to receive the laptop shipment and also help in the hiring of one permanent staff member who can continue to teach students on the laptops and carry out the project’s goals in the long-term. The Project Manager for CoKF, Jeff Ochieng, is a Kibera native based in Nairobi full time and will be available to assist in all implementation. At both the Red Rose School and Salve Regina there are already staff who Sarah and Leslie can work with to train along with the students themselves. These local teachers will provide the project with local input and sustainability, ensuring future success and benefits from the XO laptop project. These two schools are located in areas of Nairobi where a majority of the school children are desperately affected by a lack of resources and opportunities, poverty, broken families, and HIV/AIDS. The pilot computer education project at the Red Rose School made possible by donations of laptops in the past two years has already shown us some of the immense educational possibilities and produced positive results that we plan to scale up and intensify through the deployment of the XO laptops. The small computer lab at Red Rose is the one location where the students are never bored and are always engaging themselves, eager to learn valuable skills and access new information online while communicating with their peers at other schools around the world.


Since 2008, the teachers and children at the Red Rose School have began an online book-publishing project using “RealeBooks” web-based software with support and training from CoKF and LitWorld Inc. Some of the books published by Red Rose children are online at http://litworld.realelibrary.com/index.php/RealeBooks/ . Deploying the XO laptops at Red Rose and Salve Regina schools will allow us to expand this literacy-boosting project, including more schoolchildren and more topics. In line with the OLPC’s foundation’s vision, we would expect to see the Red Rose and Salve Regina school-children publishing online books that address problems within their community. They can do research, write reports, put them online and share them with their families and community members as they take the laptops home, something they are not currently able to do. So far the Realebooks have been focused on themes of sharing information about life in Kenya with partner schools in the US and UK, but we want to make it an excellent platform for information exchange among children at schools in African communities, including between Red Rose and Salve Regina.


We see the benefits of the limited program so far and imagine how much more they will expand with greater laptop access at Red Rose and Salve Regina. The lack of resources, not a lack of enthusiasm, is the only thing holding these communities back. Teachers report that the children have become more interested in all subject areas, especially English and other foreign languages, because of the interactive and engaging learning methods that open up other creative opportunities. Daily school attendance has increased and admission requests at Red Rose School have gone up since the introduction of computer lessons. The skills and abilities they acquire will empower these school children to move up from the bottom of the Kenyan socio-economic hierarchy by providing them skills and competences for a 21st century economy and labor-force. Reaching students at this young age and allowing this level of ownership among so many is a vital approach to make the most widespread and deep impact on their educational experiences. The Red Rose School and the Salve Regina School are two perfect locations for a project such as this. Leslie and Sarah are a talented, dedicated, and well-prepared team to deploy the first XO laptops. The CoKF has a track record, the resources, and relationships to support the project and ensure its long-term sustainability.


With many thanks, Kenneth Okoth Chairman and Founder, Children of Kibera Foundation ken@childrenofkibera.org

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