OLPCorps KTH ETHIOPIA
School: Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Stockholm, Sweden
Team Name: OLPCorps_KTH_ETHIOPIA
Team Members: Kidist Getachew, Bemnet Tesfaye, and Luelseged Asrade
Deployment Location: Bahir Dar, Ethiopia
<googlemap version="0.9" lat="11.598852" lon="37.385359" zoom="14"> 11.598575, 37.396117 Bahir Dar University, Engineering Faculty 11.600656, 37.368201 Amhar Region Education Office 11.597864, 37.38405 Atse Sersedingil Primary School </googlemap>
We are a team of three international master’s students in KTH, Sweden. We are planning to deploy XOs in a small primary school called Ase Sersedingil in the town of Bahir Dar, Ethiopia. Since all the team members are originally from Ethiopia, we will have no problem related to language barriers. Our understanding of various problems in education present in developing countries is not a mere theory, rather it is a personal experience that we all have undergone through and it’s something that we would like to change. Our proposal has two core contributions; implementing a short documentary video project and developing a tool for creating interactive content.
Atse Sersedingil is founded in 1947 and it is the oldest school in Bahir Dar. It has a total of 1802 students. Despite its old age and large number of students, it is least equipped in terms of IT infrastructure1. Our deployment targets students of grade 5 consisting of a total of 285 students. Normally, in Ethiopia students will be on summer holydays between July and September. Unlike most schools, Atse Sersedingil is operational during this period conducting a summer school program, allowing us to get access to both students and teachers.
In the first week of our commitment, we will have a planning meeting with various stakeholders including the school principals, teachers, parents’ committee, and local partners. The goal of the meeting is to present our project idea and collect feedback. From our contacts in ECBP, we have learned that it is advantageous to require parents sign an agreement that entitles the ownership of the XOs by their child.2 This agreement will not only invite parents to provide feedback to the school, but it will also explain the added value students might gain. We believe this will make parents encourage their children in using XOs at home.
We have designed two training sessions for the students. An introductory session will be organized to let the students get familiar with the XOs. This will be followed by hands on training to help the students successfully complete the short video documentary assignment.
Our project idea falls under two categories. Our first project aims at developing creativity, analytical thinking and team working skills, at the same time exploring the features of the XOs. The idea is to organize the students in teams and let them research about specific topics including culture, family life, HIV/AIDS, malaria, harmful practices, environment and others. The students will interview their parents, teachers, and local clinics to collect data. Each team will produce a documentary video about what they have learned and what they achieved. Each individual in the team will have specific role including editing video, composing music, editing graphics, and preparing articles. All the teams will share what they have developed with each other and with other students in the larger OLPC domain worldwide. Finally a special prize will be given for the team with outstanding documentary.
The other project idea is developing a localized interactive educational activity. Here, what we’re trying to accomplish is providing both the teachers and the students a new way of seeing the course contents. The services will include digital books, video lessons, and interactive illustrations of core sections of their curriculum and many others that are described at http://wiki.laptop.org/go/OLPCorps_KTH_ETHIOPIA.
Local Partner and Future Sustainability
Our primary local partner is the Ethiopian Engineering Capacity Building Program (ECBP). It is a governmental initiative founded in 2005 and has deployed 5000 XOs in various regions of the country. With the precondition of acceptance of our proposal, ECBP has agreed to give us 100 additional XO laptops to help us achieve the desired saturation level. ECBP will also arrange transportation of XOs to Bahir Dar and provide safe storage for the XOs. In order to ensure continuous support and future extension, our deployment will be part of an existing ECBP deployment, allowing our project to be supervised by the existing monitoring and evaluation framework used in ECBP (see http://wiki.laptop.org/go/OLPC_Ethiopia).
Currently ECBP doesn’t have a technical team based in Bahir Dar. In order to ensure continuous technical support, we are partnering with Bahir Dar University. The department of computer science has enough qualified man power to technically support the deployment. Our colleagues3 in the department have agreed to work closely with the school in case of technical difficulties. Furthermore, we will organize a specialized training for the support staff to develop skill in troubleshooting the XOs, the school server and the wireless network.
Our goal is to found a well-built base in the studies of underprivileged children. Our focus is to boost the children’s confidence; enhance their creativity and most of all open a new era of learning - constructionist. We believe in learning by doing. Students will be organized in a team, research a specific topic and create a short documentary video using their XO laptop. All in all; even though we are not going to change the world, we are handing off the baton to the next runner on the running track. And we are running very fast to pass it on.
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1 The school owns two computers mainly used for secretarial services and 56kbps dialup internet connection.
2 Note that in the previous deployment by ECBP such a contract require students to return the XO after they reach grade 8. This is not the case in our deployment.
3 Bemnet has served in the department as a graduate assistant in 2006/7.
Our team consists of one pedagogical lead and two technical supports. Kidist, who originally gathered the team, is attending a master’s program in ICT entrepreneurship. She is interested in promoting the use of IT in developing countries. In fact, she is currently working on her master’s thesis project concerned with studying the value of ICT incubators in developing countries in order to realize new business opportunities and at the same time alleviating poverty problems. Working towards our OLPCorps proposal, Kidist is looking into issues related to budgeting, inter working with our local partners and identifying valuable and new services that the technical lead could develop.
Our technical team consists of Bemnet and Luelseged. Luel is a master’s student in Network services and systems department. With strong electrical engineering background in his bachelor’s degree, he is mainly focused in designing and developing communication systems in various layers. Currently he is doing his master’s thesis with the Swedish Olympic Institute in developing a system that can help athletes monitor their performance using handheld devices. Luel is contributing to our proposal by outlining new services suitable for the students. He is also looking into how we could reuse the contents and services that have already been developed for the XOs in previous deployments by the Ethiopian Engineering Capacity Building Program (ECBP).for more information, http://www.luelsegedasrade.co.nr/
Bemnet is attending a double masters program in mobile computing and information security. He is interested in developing secure context aware multimedia systems for mobile users. In the summer of 2008, he worked as a software development engineer intern with the windows mobile team at Microsoft in Seattle, after which he got a full time offer to join Microsoft upon his graduation. In his bachelor’s he studied computer science in the same town where we will deploy the XOs. He has been intimately involved in improving quality of education in his home country. In effect, before starting his master’s studies, he worked at department of computer science in Bahir Dar University as a graduate assistant and has a working experience in supporting IT clubs in local high schools. Bemnet is contributing to our OLPCorps proposal by networking with his colleagues in Bahir Dar University, and our potential local partners including regional education bureau and the ECBP.
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