It's 8am on Saturday morning, and 100 students and five teachers sweat in a single classroom. Most likely, there is no energy today, but with luck, students come to class with their computers fully charged from another neighborhood. In a concrete room with one door, the students spend hours working on their bright green XOs. The sounds: typing and talking. And laughter.
[caption id="attachment_1297" align="aligncenter" width="450" caption="Students working on XOs outside in Sao Tome"][/caption]
This is the scene in São Tomé e Príncipe, a two-island nation of about 160,000 off the west coast of Africa, near Gabon and Nigeria, at the São João Secondary School. The school received 100 XOs in the summer of 2009 through an OLPCorps team of students and professors from the University of Illinois. It now runs XO classes for its sixth grade students with help from Beth Santos and a local organization called STeP UP (São Tomé e Príncipe Union for Promotion). The XOs at the school are quite popular - the program has been covered by local and national news networks. You can see pictures of the project and find other São Tomé-related links at the Sao Tome Blog.
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A recent report ranks Rwanda's broadband connectivity speeds third on the continent, ahead of its neighbors in East Africa. This seems to be changing rapidly; I recall that just over a year ago, when we hosted the OLPCorps summit in Kigali, it was difficult for attendees to find hotspots to upload videos of any length.
Rwanda keeps on surprising its neighbors. It intends to be an ICT hub for the region, and is moving in that direction full speed. Kudos to Kagame and his young crew for making that dream real, year byRead the rest of this entry
I've lost count of how many times the demise and resurrection of OLPC and Sugar have been proclaimed and celebrated. What makes these projects tick? Grow? I ask myself this question whenever I start feeling burned out, wondering why I remain attached to the project and this green machine.
My own journey with OLPC, Sugar and all things related, has been underway for years. I'm a techie at heart, a "thinly-disguised" business school professor, teaching IT strategy and researching business models and consumer behavior. Every once in a while, I'll sit down and compile a kernel, or run a packet sniffer. (What can I say? It's instant gratification and a lot more fun :-) I think of the tech as the supply side of my interest: The XO makes for a great technology platform. The mesh (whether 802.11s or ad-hoc), suspend with the screen lit, robustness, low power, etc. is all very cool. Cool enough for a grown man to walk around with a funny-looking green machine slung around his shoulder. The software stack too is amazing, flexible, free. The content is rich. Wikipedia in a box? Awesome! The tech definitely keeps me tethered. Then there's the demand side: a part of my family lives in rural India, in Bhagmalpur. A village where I have seen the simple life. Clean air, good food, quiet living. Its also stricken with poverty, sanitation issues, water shortages, and seriously untapped ingenuity