OLPCorps BrockUniversity South Africa

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OLPCorps_BrockUniversity South Africa

The Team

Grace Peters - Team Leader (specialization in Learning Sciences/Neuroscience/Technology)

Emily Bommarito - Drama education lead

Scott Taylor - Health sciences lead


Give a laptop. Change the world.

We are three university students at Brock University, Canada. With the support of local South African NGOs, we will deploy 100 XO laptops to Hyacinth Primary School in Mitchell’s Plain township of Cape Town, RSA.

Mitchell's Plain has been zoned as one of the Presidential Nodes to receive special attention and monetary support from the state, NGOs, and private sector owing to the abject poverty of this community. In South Africa, the urban areas are often far worse off than rural areas. To give sustainable support to a school, it must reachable in order for the programme to succeed.

Faced with many challenges, the RSA education system has made solid gains in the last decade as it prepares its learners for life in the 21st century. While literacy rates are quite high, the poverty rate of the country is at about 30%. Early digital literacy skills can provide enhanced educational opportunities for learners which can lead to better employment opportunities for learners upon leaving school.

Access to digital technologies, however, is limited in the townships. Often computers can only be found in school computer labs which offer limited access to teachers and learners due to the high ratio of students to computers.

Working with Children

Our intention is to use our own backgrounds in drama and health education as we use the XOs as tools in the learning process. The XOs offer activities which will support a variety of literacy skills: Write, Chat, Record, Paint, TamTam Jam, which will also be used as we script, practice and perform. Learners will use the XO as a natural tool to support the learning process. The XO can also be used to document learning through practices of reflection (writing, orally, or visually). Collaboration between learners will emphasized throughout the process. The children will be given an opportunity to voice their creative ideas as well as document them to share with an immediate and global community.

Using Scratch and TurtleArt, the students will create games and stories to support and communicate messages about health education to a real audience of their community and other learners around the world. The school has connectivity so the students can reach a global audience.

During the month of break, June 20 - July 20, we would like to offer daily computer-drama workshops at the school in order to continue our support of the programme. We will work with Khanya and Edunova to provide additional access to the computer lab and classrooms and offer activities for the learners who attend.

Local Partners

Khanya and Edunova have agreed to work with us and support us while we are in the Mitchell’s Plain area. They have a presence already in the selected school and for that reason was it chosen. These organizations recognize that sustainability over time is a necessary component to any successful ICT integration programme. They have been distributing computers and providing training for a number of years now.

Teachers Without Borders Canada is another supporting organization. The mother of one of our team members is leading a team for a second year of four years of workshops for township educators; their team will be present in the area in July '09.

Impact on Children

We would like to ensure that there would be an arts festival where the local community would come and observe the accomplishments of the students.

We would also like to emphasize the theme of global citizenship by introducing them to digital content created by our own students. By sharing videos from our Canadian students we intend to create a lasting relationship between sets of students.


The mother tongue of the learners in this township is primarily Afrikaans; however, the children will have had exposure to English. We will use drama as an approach to our program because the expression of ideas and perspective of emotions can be effectively portrayed without translation. We believe it is a fundamental medium in terms of engaging many different learning styles, regardless of the language. Because of our focus on drama in education, we would like to use the various features of the XO to create and record music both in the local language(s) and in English. We would also like to use the video features to record and exhibit the exploration of individual and collaborative ideas and their applications to learning in the community.

Financial Support once we leave

We are approaching organizations such as churches, schools, theatre groups and university campus groups in order to raise additional monies to support this initiative in the long term.