10 December 2010

Rwanda: OLPC Reaches Out to Students on Holiday

Photo: New Times
Primary school children using laptops. Over 200,000 units will have been distributed by the end of the year.

The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) programme, in partnership with the Ministry of Education, has opened a week-long documentary camp aimed at teaching children on holiday, how to use their laptops in making documentaries.

Using OLPC's XO learning laptops, primary school children are being taught how to make documentaries from their own perspective, a project dubbed, 'A day in the life.'

OLPC is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to help provide every child in the world with access to modern education and Rwanda is considered one of the success stories in implementing the programme.

In an exclusive interview with The New Times, the OLPC Country Manager, Sam Dusengiyumva, said that the holiday programme, in which 34 children are participating, is providing tangible practical skills to the children.

"Not only is it providing a fun and interactive environment for the children during their holidays, it is teaching advanced concepts of tangible skills that the pupils will remain with long after the camp," he said.

Dusengiyumva added that his organization is looking forward to extend this holiday initiative to all the schools that are running the OLPC programme in the near future.

After the camp, the children's documentary footage will be edited to accompany footage made by the OLPC to create a full length documentary that will be shown at a high profile premiere.

"It will serve as an example of Rwandan culture and the possibilities inherent in an advanced learning environment where every child owns their own laptop," Dusengiyumva said.

The camp, having only run for three days so far, is already bearing creative fruit, he said.

"Children have made an ocean sized reservoir of promising ideas, from making animated versions of their morning routine, to capturing the antics of animals, to even exhibiting the preparation of a fruit salad."

Dusengiyumva says that it is safe to say that the talent of Rwanda's brightest is not just on show but burning with passion.

"Already the children are talking of how they will use the skills they've gained this week to make more advanced film projects, such as action movies and talk shows," he said.

According to Blaise Shyaka a primary six pupil, the camp is an exciting place where he has already learnt a lot of things.

"I am doing a documentary project on how to avoid AIDS by collecting all the necessary information on the disease so that I can use it to teach my friends its dangers," explained Shyaka.

Rwanda which is home to the Global Center for Excellence in Laptops and Learning, currently has over 40, 000 laptops distributed to primary school children around the country.

According to Ministry of Education, 65, 000 laptops will have been distributed before end of this year.

The Government of Rwanda has committed to providing all 2.2 million of its primary school children with laptops by 2012 and to serving as a model for other countries.

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