OLPC deployments in Caacupé, Paraguay: Part 3

Continuing from part 2:

We finished the deployment on Thursday morning with two of the larger schools. First thing, we went to Tiniente Aquino, in time for their ceremony. While quite used to these now (various talks and testmonials, press, the national anthem and a dance performance) it was again exciting to witness the excitement in the air. At the close of ceremony we went into the classes and initiated the handout.

Now experts in the art, we arrived at the final school (for now), Herminia Machada. The introductory ceremony featured a dance including an XO laptop! Everyone was very friendly and after a small hiccup with the server, everything was fine.

Celebration at Herminia Machada

To mark the end of the deployment, we returned to the school of Daniel Ortellado, where a lunch had been prepared for the whole team. We then spent some time with children exploring their laptops. As we sat down for a group photo, more and more children came over to take photos using their laptops, refusing to let us leave before they had captured the moment for themselves. For us, it was a nice point on which to end the week.

ParaguayEduca team Group photo

Of course, with only a small team distributing almost 1000 laptops per day, some hiccups are inevitable. The worst error was when we accidentally missed 6 classes when deploying at one school, but with support from the teachers we finished everything off a few hours later.

Some children had not been correctly registered with us, so did not receive laptops initially. Try telling a child that there is no laptop for them when all of the other children are turning theirs on for the first time. Raúl was so touched by one teary-eyed girl in this situation that he actually gave her his personal laptop, but after a few minutes of exploring she was considerate enough to hand it back and wait a day or two for us to solve the problem.

Another difficulty is with faulty laptops; only a few have been reported so far, but it’s difficult when you encounter them. Our strategy for this and for missing laptops was for the teachers to make a list of problems to hand to the principal of the school. With our tight schedule, it was simply not possible to fix the problems on-the-spot, but we managed to attack them school-by-school in timely fashion.

New XOs

ParaguayEduca officially formed less than a year ago, so it is a great achievement for them to have now saturated 50% of a big city through deployments in 5 rural and 5 urban schools. Funds have already been secured to purchase laptops to saturate the other 50%. The support from sponsors, teachers, parents and communities here is incredible; the combination of public and private sector interest plus links to government seems to be the perfect recipe for such a project in this country.

Of course, this is not the end of the OLPC Paraguay implementation, it is merely the start.