OLPC: Madagascar

Project: Creative learning program in a village
Date: 2010-2011-2012
Location: Madagascar 
Position: Pedagogy and implementation lead

As a part of the One Laptop Per Child community, I led the deployment of 200 XO laptops in a primary school in Madagascar for three years. This project was transformative as it gave me a passion for creative playful learning, participatory and open communities, as well as my first experience in global development.

Figuring out how to make laptops part of the regular school routine taught me a lot about the realities, aspirations, and goals of teachers—the pressure they feel everyday to get their students through their exams, and the joy and pride they experience when students learn new skills. Quickly, I realized a sizable chasm between the formal structure in the education system and the comparatively informal, playful activities in the Sugar environment. Teachers were unable to incorporate these machines as a tool for learning in their classrooms because they perceived the technology and new style of learning as a distraction from their regular curriculum. From chalk to screen, learning had not improved.

In response, we ran open classroom sessions where students were able to learn with their peers and explore their curiosity freely. They played with many of the Sugar OS activities, like Scratch, Etoys, FotoToon, TuxMath. We saw these children become deeply invested and engaged in their projects, and become excited to attend school and collaborate with one another. This newfound sense of pride, confidence and excitement was magical to witness.

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