Ethiopia’s second OLPC deployment

The ecbp team started the 2nd OLPC Ethiopia deployment today. This time, we are working at a school in Addis Ababa. The school itself is similar to another local school that I wrote about in my first week, although smaller (approximately 1000 students, rather than 2800).

Both through mistakenly thinking this school was a public school, and also through the radiance of this photo, I was expecting the school to be more modern and have better facilities than the others I have seen. However, upon arrival I learn that this is another government school, and the facilities are strikingly bare.

As we walk into the school, the first thing that hits me is the noise of many chattering children. I ask my coworkers if this is their break (although I am doubting that myself, the schoolyard being mostly empty). “No, this is how they learn in class.” The teacher yells a question, and the kids all yell the answer. Or the teacher yells some kind of statement, and the kids repeat it. Over and over again. With many classes in a small area, it’s just a mess of (Amharic) sound.

Later on, I am within earshot of an English lesson. “HOW ARE YOU”, yells the teacher. The kids respond in unison, “I AM FINE THANKYOU.” This repeats indefinitely, almost army-like “SIR YES SIR” style.

The children are very friendly and flock around me, shaking my hand and asking my name. I discover that I have a supernatural ability to control their movement, simply by pointing my camera in different directions. Here is our attempt to get a photo of me with some children — you can actually see me, if you look carefully:

We spend the morning conducting questionnaires, which will generate data for evaluating the effects of the laptops (more data will be collected some time later, and data will also be collected from schools without laptops). Then, we start deployment in the afternoon. Things are nicely organised, with the kids coming up one by one, presenting signed letters from their parents, and signing for their laptops. They obey instructions to not power on the laptop until everyone in the class has signed for their XO. The teachers give out 200-300 laptops in total, with only a little assistance from ourselves.

Chaos ensues as classrooms full of children eagerly power on their laptops for the first time. The Ethiopian team explain that the children must type in their name, although some children do not seem to understand. I use my minimal Amharic to help them out, but it’s difficult and things get harder as the other children get into Sugar and make noise as they start exploring. “Teacher, teacher” they say, pulling at my clothes. I turn to them and am greeted with “Camera, camera!” as they beg me to show them how to open Record (an instant hit).

Overall, it was a very tiring day, but a lot of fun, and rewarding to see so many happy children. Students from other classes hounded me for laptops as we left; we will return on Monday to finish the job.

Photostream updated.

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14 Responses to “Ethiopia’s second OLPC deployment”

  1. One Laptop per Child (OLPC) Does 2nd Deployment in Ethiopia « Oatmeal Stout - Justin Thorp’s Web 2.0 blog Says:

    [...] I’ve been following the project closely online.  There is a cool blog post talking about how they’re doing their second deployment in Ethiopia .  Plus they have tons of amazing [...]

  2. k Says:

    Great stuff, makes me wanna do it

  3. Greg Smith Says:

    Hi Dan,

    Great stuff, thanks!

    On this: “We spend the morning conducting questionnaires, which will generate data for evaluating the effects of the laptops (more data will be collected some time later, and data will also be collected from schools without laptops).”

    When and how can we get access to this added data? Post it here or send me a link to it when its available, or let me know who else to follow up with…

    Thanks a lot,

    BTW We’re really appreciating the Ethiopian coffee here at the office, but the verdict is still out if its better than Rwandan… :-)

  4. Thomas Says:

    Daniel, why you are seeking to get credit for work you haven’t done? The team here in Ethiopia is very disappointed about your description. You clearly overestimate (very much) the role you played and you are insulting the people who actually did and do the work. However, all the best for you.

  5. Daniel Drake Says:

    Thomas,

    As stated by email, I never intended to offend anyone and would like to fix this. However, I would appreciate some hints on exactly where the problem is. In my opinion, I am not taking the credit for the achievements here: I worded it carefully starting with the words “The ecbp team,” regularly referring to “the team” and “my coworkers”, consistently using “we” as the pronoun of the sentences, and only using “I” when expressing personal thought, opinion or experience.

    Nevertheless, there may be some disconnect here, or I may be missing something obvious. Please help me correct this when you have a chance. Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

  6. We have 24 Old OLPCs in Israel, for out pilot! « Guysoft’s Weblog Says:

    [...] B2 machines are really old, Dan from OLPC, who just came back from Ethiopia, told me that they have B2 laptops in storage, where [...]

  7. One Laptop per Child in Africa « fortySouth Says:

    [...] OLPC intern, “DLD”, writes about Ethiopia’s second deployment and how excited the kids [...]

  8. Jay work at home Says:

    1,000 students huh, hopefully this number will rise over the year. We need more kids in these schools!

  9. Alex Kenefick Says:

    The above snippy comments make this whole site look bad. Especially since the work you are doing is so good. Why is a member of the public allowed to see this type of unprofessional communication?

  10. Rob Long Says:

    I have to agree with Alex – that was in bad form.

    Keep up the great work team.

    Daniel, there is a class of High School Java programmers here in Canada who would be happy to develop some programs for kids elsewhere in the world. Do you have any suggestions for them.

  11. cierra Says:

    Nothing bad matters,we are gettng kids back in school.
    SO what if we start out small,atleast we are doing something.
    GREAT JOB!

  12. alex Says:

    Thanks, excellent article.

  13. moneeza Says:

    Hey!
    Just curious what school this was at, it looks like a school I volunteered at in Addis!
    Thanks!
    moneeza

  14. beza Says:

    Great work!!!!!!! I just read about it today, August 2010…but is happy about the work you have done for us……and I wonder why whenever one do something good ….some just love to criticize than support ……please ignore those

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