Thursday, June 4, 2009

So... what is OLPCorps, again?

We probably should have started with this, but anyhow.. here's the release that's going out on what it is we're actually doing (thanks Drew and Steph!). We'll be certain to share our personal perpectives as soon as we get the chance!

One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) is a U.S. non-profit organization devoted to enhancing early childhood education. Its mission is, “To create educational opportunities for the world's poorest children by providing each child with a rugged, low-cost, low-power, connected laptop with content and software designed for collaborative, joyful, self-empowered learning." Currently, the organization’s focus is on Africa. Early this year, OLPC announced that it would donate thousands of their special child-friendly laptops to select teams willing to build partnerships with local organizations in African countries.

In March, Grahamstown’s own St Mary’s Day Care Center and the Holy Cross After School Program at Mariya uMama weThemba Monastery were selected to be recipients of this unique opportunity. In total, only thirty teams out of over 200 applicants werechosen to take part in the program, three of which are in South Africa.

The St. Mary’s Day Care Center is an established NGO providing after-school food and care to some of the most impoverished and disadvantaged school going children in Grahamstown. Currently, the center is a second home to 87 children between the ages of 6 and 18. Similarly, the Holy Cross After School program provides transportation, food and after-school care to some of the area’s poor rural children. There are currently 16 students in their program from the junior through senior classes. To assist with implementing the OLPC program, the two day care centers have formed partnerships with student volunteers at Rhodes University and Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania, United States. Together, this partnership is called GTECH - Grahamstown/Gettysburg: Together Empowering Children.

Beginning in July 2009, each child at the St. Mary’s and Holy Cross day care centers will be given their own OLPC laptop. Student volunteers from Rhodes, Gettysburg and GADRA will work with the children to engage them in learning through the use of special computer programs. Aside from utilizing the educational tools available on the laptops, children will be encouraged to play games and explore the laptop’s functions on their own. Internet connectivity will also be installed at the day care centers to assist with research as well as the overall usefulness of these laptops as educational tools.

It is the hope of GTECH and OLPC that through the use of these specially designed child-friendly laptops, the children of St. Mary’s and Holy Cross day care centres will not only be able to take advantage of unique educational tools but will also gain a level of comfort with technology. Each child will own and care for his/her own laptop, giving him/her a sense of personal responsibility and empowerment.

For more information please visit the OLPC webpage at

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