OLPCorps Indian Institute of Technology Madras South Africa

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Project Details

Names of students: Sruthi Chandrasekhar, Saurabh Gupta.

Country: India

University: Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras

Place of Deployment: Mpumalanga, South Africa

Local NGO: Thembalethu

Technical Support - Saurabh Gupta, M.Tech (Intelligent Manufacturing), completed courses and projects computer networks, intelligent communications on shop floor, IEEE 802 WLAN protocols. Ubuntu (Debian Linux) OS user.

Execution Support - Sruthi Chandrasekhar, M.A (Economics),

Why Thembalethu’s children?

1. Region with over 45% incidence of AIDS and a 65% unemployment rate. Only education and awareness can improve social conditions. 2. Child-headed and neighbour-headed households are shockingly common in the Nkomazi region in Mpumalanga, comprising mostly orphans and vulnerable children (with atleast 1 parent affected by AIDS) 3. Introduction to ICT (Information Communication Technology) through XOs will enable the coming generation to approach computers with confidence in the later years. This would eventually help them explore employment opportunities in SA and improve standards of living 4. Education is confined to the realms of textbooks in local language and not up-to-date. 5. Minimal access to technology.

Place of Deployment

Mpumalanga in South Africa. Near South Africa's border with Mozambique and Swaziland <googlemap version="0.9" lat="-25.631622" lon="31.830139" zoom="4"> (T) -25.860377, 31.773468, Thembalethu @ Mpumalanga Thembalethu @ Mpumalanga </googlemap>

Reaching children:

Thembalethu, being just a few kilometres away from Swaziland and Mozambique, would enable us to reach out to children also from the borders of these 2 countries. The children’s English speaking skills range from very fundamental to moderately comfortable. We would be interacting with these children during their summer school hours, as well as after school.

Selection Process:

Thembalethu has been promoting IT enabled education in this region since 2004 and some children have been exposed to this mode. 60 such students will be identified for the XO program.

For children with no introduction to IT due to lack of opportunity, an essay and drawing competition would be launched to identify 40 children with creative skills and enthusiasm.

Adaptation of XOs:

1. Integration with regular school curriculum using Offline Wikipedia 2. Sports – Show videos of the Olympics, top players in action, nurture interest in chess 3. AIDS Awareness – Use EToys and Journal to create ad campaigns 4. Story Telling – Use EToys to pick a picture and spin a tale 5. Painting – Use EToys and Paint for making a collage of their views on a topic

Application Specific Activities:

1. Scratch : Children in the age group 10 – 12 years use Scratch to develop small programs to express their creativity or make a presentation on a topic.

2. Speak : Children beginning to expand their vocabulary, can use this to listen to a word by learning its spelling. Thus a two-way goal of learning the right pronunciation as well as the spelling of the word is achieved

3. ICDL and Wikibooks: The stories that this application contains can be read out aloud by the children, which will help boosting their self-confidence

4. Journal, World Factbook Maps and World Digital Library: Could be used for making an end-term project

5. Skit with TamTamJam and Funky Record: The children, at the end of our deployment, can put up a skit using TamTamJam, Funky Record and other applications


1. Mentorship Programme: Every child is provided with a student mentor from around the world who guides the child, answers questions, talks about his/her side of the world through the internet. This would not be just a follow-up mechanism but would foster a friendship for the child that would help in moulding his/her character.

2. Role of NGO:Thembalethu has a host of qualified volunteers who will be able to continue the activities that were being carried out during the deployment period. They would also help the 100 XOs stay connected to internet. We would be assisting them in content creation and implementation from India.

3. Financial Support: Few companies in India are considering contributing to this project as a part of CSR (Corporate Social Responsibilty). BBC (Bryanston Bible Church) and Thembalethu Holland are likely to provide scholarships to star performers.

4. Constant Assessment: The NGO and our team will regularly assess the ‘XO-mates’ according to their progress rather than on an absolute scale.

5. Network Support: A proposition has been made to form a support group amongst teams working across South Africa. We hope that this group would continue providing support to the participating NGOs and establish a long-lasting network.

End Result:

1. XOs become integrated with the school curriculum, leading to a continued technology-enabled learning process.

2. A model case-study for implementation of XOs in rural areas of Africa, considering language barriers, cultural diversity, existing infrastructure and existing school curriculum.