One Laptop per Child, Nicaragua

In early January, I arrived in Managua, Nicaragua, to help the Zamora Terán Foundation with their One Laptop per Child implementation to improve public school education for Nicaraguan children. My roles have been providing training and direction on the technical and logistics fronts, sharing experiences from other countries, and helping out on the day-to-day tasks which inevitably draw attention.

San Judas Tadeo, Managua

The foundation was set up last year as part of the corporate social responsibility programme of the LAFISE/Bancentro banking group. This means that it’s an OLPC project backed by the private sector.

The usual OLPC principles are followed: entire schools are saturated at a time, all children aged 6-12 receive a laptop. They take it home and share with their family. Teacher training is provided before the laptops arrive and is supplemented on a regular basis. Internet access is provided at the schools, even in the places where you really wouldn’t think connectivity is possible.

The project has currently reached 7 schools, ranging from single-room multigrade schools to schools with 600 children in primary education. From isolated 19-family communities to big cities. Quite a mix!

The schools are spread all over the Pacific coast of Nicaragua, which adds various interesting challenges to the project; while it’s not difficult to travel between schools, you are talking about a fair amount of A-to-B. Fortunately, the foundation has the resources of the bank at its disposal (in addition to their drivers and vehicles, we can use their courier system, quite useful in a country that doesn’t really have a postal service!). The project also benefits from a partnerships with other organisations, a collection of dedicated volunteers, and a collaboration with the Ministry of Education.

About 2000 children are covered by the programme so far, a number that will grow through the year. An exciting recent development is a significant donation from the Embassy of Denmark; with their support, the foundation will soon be initiating a 6000-laptop deployment in 2 cities on the Caribbean coast.

Fuente de vida, Juigalpa

One interesting model that I’ve not seen in other OLPC deployments is the way that the foundation runs a “give a school” model. The foundation has a significant stock of laptops in the country and other organisations can make a donation to cause the project to land in a specific school; the donor covers the cost of the equipment and infrastructure, and the foundation does the rest (logistics, connectivity, laptop handout, teacher training, followup and repairs, etc.).

Nicaragua is a fascinating country; in addition to the obligatory weekend excursions to volcanoes, lagunas and beaches, I’ve had the opportunity to glimpse “the real Nicaragua” while travelling with the project. it has been refreshing to see that even in the areas where living conditions are strikingly harsh, you can see that the local people are really focusing on community and education: the schools and the churches are the best-constructed buildings in town.

57 Responses to “One Laptop per Child, Nicaragua”

  1. asp Says:

    Cool! I spent a few months in Nicaragua, en Leon, a few years back. I love that country, the people. It is great to hear that OLPC i being rolled out there!

    I’ll be following your project, I’d love to hear more details on what you do and how it all works.

  2. arunix Says:

    its very much Good idea for every child[over the glove]
    i think i should be start over the world wide.
    OLPC project will reduce the burden of school bag form the students
    i am from india and here is the weight of the bag[school] is so high(about more than 5 kg).
    it good cause for the students.
    i appericiates it and would love to be the part of it…………

  3. Jussi Savolainen Says:

    Hi,

    This is very interesting. Maybe you can update the OLPC Nicaragua wiki in case there is need to do so, and I quess there is. For example it says that Nicaragua has delivered 5000 OLCPs. Or is this exactly where you are referring with the foundation’s stock?

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  7. Anonymous Says:

    I remember when I read this news in the newspaper. I was very happy to see this program being implemented in my country. BTW, program is being very successful still. Volunteers from foreign countries are a huge help. The kids feel protected, loved and supported by them. I once was part of a christian outreach program that gave away notebooks and pencils to schools. My tasks were as interpreter/translator. But no matter what task you are performing, the time with the kids is priceless. I remember we played this great game, “macho parado”, and we could not stop playing because it was so much fun. The day we finish the program, this kids made me friendlier, more compassionate, more aware. I invite you to join one of this programs.

    I am nicaraguan. I am also an ubuntu linux user, software developer. email me at elem234{at}yahoo.es for sharing more about this great programs. Thanks for posting this article.

  8. Coline Bettson Says:

    Greetings from Canada !

    I am a retired ESL teacher & new volunteer for One Laptop Per Child.

    My job ? Making a ” OLPC Global Annual Contest.”

    How ? So far . . . Contest is styled on the Olympics ( VERY loosely ! )

    ” Smilebox ” founder may assist in allowing us to use the company’s site, providing OLPC children the vehicle to submit their entry for our . . . FIRST ANNUAL GLOBAL CONTEST

    Categories : math\art\science\poetry\film\music\photography\short stories.

    Prizes : GOLD, SILVER & Bronze ribbon & certificate for each category.

    What do you think ? Love input !
    Coline
    coline3bettson@gmail.com

  9. Dani Bicknell Says:

    Greetings from an American who lives in Canada.

    I’ve been very interested in this program but I was put off by some articles I read stating the program was really a publicity ploy. I would love to find out more about what you do and the details of how this project worked for you and the students.

    I work in the online programs department for a non-profit legal education organization and I’m hoping to go down to South America in the fall to volunteer. I am very interested in what you are doing and its great to read about some positive results.
    If you have the time i’d love to hear more about your experience with One Laptop Per Child.

    Cheers.

  10. David (laptop bags) Says:

    Sounds like a great effort and that you’re really making a difference. How did the scheme overcome the obvious problems like families selling the laptops on? In areas of poverty there must be a strong tension between education for long-term improvement and the very immediate need to keep the family supported.

  11. OLPC in South America in Context of Deployments Around the World « Educational Technology Debate Says:

    [...] which Daniel Drake, who among many other OLPC projects has also volunteered with Zamora Terán, describes like this: The foundation has a significant stock of laptops in the country and other organisations [...]

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