July 22, 2009, 9:30 AM
Principal Mohamed, Lilydale Teachers, Ministry of Education representatives, community members, guardians, and learners:
Thank-you so much for coming today and being a part of the launch of the very first One Laptop Per Child program in Gauteng.
My name is Olesia and next to me are my group members, Anastasia and John. We are Americans from Boston and we represent One Laptop Per Child, or OLPC, the non-profit that hopes to equip every child in the world with one of these durable, child-friendly green and white laptops.
And that’s why we are here today—because OLPC is donating a laptop to every grade 5 learner at the Lilydale Higher Primary School in Dlamini. Not only will these laptops be available for leisurely use at the school, but they will also be integrated into the classroom by teachers, and even the grade 6 and 7 learners will have the opportunity to learn on the laptop, which known as an XO.
You may have seen, heard or read about this laptop. It was specifically designed to be an affordable technological tool for a child under the age of 12 and has more than 10 educational programs already installed on it. It also comes with problem-solving games, a chat, and a network that allows up to 150 learners to work simultaneously on one project.
We are also very proud to announce that we are installing wireless internet at the school and providing a server to store hundreds of gigabytes of information, including digital textbooks.
During the winter break, when the learners were relaxing, these teachers—come on up!—were back at school—training how to use the laptops. I can confidently say we are very happy to have their full support and enthusiasm for this once-in-a-lifetime initiative.
Starting today, we will begin training the learners for an hour after school each day and as soon as next Monday, the teachers will begin using the XO during class time. The XO’s will move with the grade 5 learner throughout their time at Lilydale and will then be recycled and used by the incoming grade 5 class.
Although this is the first school project in Gauteng, 250 XO laptops were privately donated from two Boston sisters to the Kliptown Youth Program in Kliptown, Soweto. The Director of the Program, Thulani Madondo, is here representing the project, which is very familiar with the XO’s and has had a very successful tutoring program with them. Mr. Madondo has offered for several older KYP members to assist Lilydale teachers and learners with the XO after my team and I leave the country in August.
A letter has gone out to all the learners’ guardians about this program and we are looking forward to their feedback on an August 1st meeting.
I hope everyone is excited as my team and I about this project because you are all part of an exclusive number of schools receiving these XO’s all over the African continent. Over 30 teams from all over the world are across Africa right now doing the same thing we are in an effort to increase computer literacy. Teams in Ghana, in Sierra Leone, in Sao Tome, Ethiopia, Senegal, Congo, Nigeria—you name it. There are even two more South African teams in Limpopo province and the Cape, doing the same thing.
The goal is to show the power of this laptop so, with government involvement, the NGO can attain its mission: One Laptop Per Child.
Lastly, I’d like to express our enormous gratitude to Mr. Mohamed and all the teachers at Lilydale for being so receptive to this amazing program.
Again, thank-you so much for coming. Without further ado, lets donate these XO’s!