[Grassroots-l] OLPC Philippines Education Project Announcement

Mel Chua mel at laptop.org
Tue Apr 1 01:55:10 EDT 2008

>> I'm currently the Project Manager/Systems Engineer of the project.
>> OLPC Philippines has its wiki page on http://wiki.laptop.org/go/OLPC_Philippines
>> Also the Philippine grassroots group has an official website http://olpcph.multiply.com
>> We list current updates on these websites and also put some notes on what was happening.
semi-obligatory note: there may be other grassroots groups in the 
Philippines (and elsewhere) that we don't yet know about, and everyone 
is free to start their own - for instance, the Chicago area alone has a 
whole bunch of grassroots groups (at least twice that number if you 
don't count "official" organizations with hierarchies etc) that do 
collaborate a lot but aren't centrally managed, and so on. (There is a 
mailing list, but nobody is "boss" in that region - it is an ad-hocracy, 
and a remarkably effective one at that, imo. Hello, Chicago people 
reading this!)

This makes a lot of sense in a widespread region like the Philippines, 
where not everyone is in the same city and working on the same things. 
Part of the bonus of being an unpaid volunteer is that you don't need to 
have a boss - you can do what you want to do to help. ;-)
> Good to hear from you. What are the special requirements of the
> Philippines? Inter-island communication? Language support? What else?
Thanks for bringing this up, Ed - and the translation stuff as well. I'd 
love to see regional dialects represented (speaking as someone whose 
family comes down from Aparri - my grandfather's first languages were 
Min-nan and Ilocano).

Translation teams are sometimes motivated by having users at the end to 
give things to immediately - a random thought would be to hold a 
read-a-thon at a local school and pledge to make them 100 open-licensed 
books (or some other ambitious number) translated by X date. Makes a 
great excuse for a sprint. You don't need XOs for it - print out the 
books and get them bound at a copyshop for a few pesos (local 
sponsorship should not be all that bad to find for printing open-license 
childrens' books, especially if their logos go on the back cover or such).
>> We are also looking for starting a deployment of units, as soon as the window is open, it would be nice for us to hear from Mel Chua on how we can purchase machines since supporting organizations and donors will be ready soon.
I'm not the person making decisions on whether/where to distribute XOs. 
The short answer is "if you want to purchase machines now, go to eBay."

The longer answer:

Writing a proposal and putting it on the wiki is generally a good idea. 
How many machines will be used by whom and how, who's going to pay for 
them and how, and who's going to support them (what if they break? how 
will the teachers learn to deal with them? who's making software and 
content for the schools?) Note that a written proposal is not a 
guarantee that you'll get laptops right away! (You almost certainly 
won't.) But it starts a discussion that can make your ideas and your 
projects stronger, more well-considered, more informed - and more 
connected to others with potential resources (knowledge, supplies, 
funding, etc) to share.

The Give Many program is still in flux - my current understanding of the 
situation (from talking really briefly to SJ this past weekend, so he or 
someone else at 1cc would be a better person to talk to, and take this 
with a grain of salt) it's not really in place yet, and when (and even 
whether) it will happen is still unknown, let alone what the process is 
going to be, what numbers are involved, and who's eligible. A lot of 
changes are going on right now. Of course, the date at which this will 
all be settled is also unclear. ;-)

But Filipinos (or <insert your country here>) are resourceful people - 
I'm sure that we can find a way around this. We can do awesome things 
for education without a gigantic batch of XOs at our doorstep Right This 
Moment. Don't get overly sidetracked on "oh no, we do not have 1,000 
machines!" Think about what you /can/ do with what resources you have. 
People did learn - quite well, too - without computers, after all. They 
are a powerful tool - but they are a tool.

If you're reading this email, you probably have computer access of 
*some* sort. That's a start. What other things can you get? Can you hold 
a math party for kids in your barangay using *physical* TurtleArt - have 
one kid walk around in response to written and shouted directions from 
the others? Can you get *a* camera and take some of your younger cousins 
on a photo safari, then upload the images to Wikimedia Commons 
afterwards? Do you have an hour's worth of access to *any* computer that 
you can put Python on, and sit there with a bright young kid and show 
her what an if/else statement is?

All these things pave the way for a compelling pilot. You may find the 
interactions with good mentors do far more for kids than shiny laptops, 
and make them more prepared to deal intelligently with technology when 
it does come. (Or when they figure out how to get it for themselves. 
Young people are usually smarter than we give them credit for - and have 
the potential for more powerful movements for change than adults usually 
allow them to exercise.)

Hope this helps. Holler if I've missed any of your questions. Remember, 
I'm also "just a volunteer." Most of us are. It's up to you what you do 
with the time you spend on this project, and what changes you're willing 
to do the legwork to make happen. Do what you can. Tell people. More 
will follow.


More information about the Grassroots mailing list