Jim Power and Phineas Inthinji
Toronto and Isiolo, Kenya — From Saturday’s Globe and Mail
Published on Saturday, Oct. 17, 2009 12:00AM EDT
Last updated on Saturday, Oct. 17, 2009 3:07AM EDT
In One Laptop, One Child – One Fragile Dream (Oct. 15), Geoffrey York says “collisions with mundane obstacles” by the One Laptop Per Child project in Soweto “are prompting many critics to predict failure. … ‘The dream is over,’ one blogger scoffed.” Although there are plenty of challenges in introducing new technology in Africa, the OLPC dream is not dead. With innovation, commitment and collaboration, almost any problem can be solved.
Since March, the students and teachers of Upper Canada College in Toronto and Ntugi Day Secondary School in Kenya have been overcoming the hurdles detailed by Mr. York – power and Internet access. When the UCC boys arrived in Kenya – with laptops and solar panels in their suitcases – the Ntugi school had no power of any kind, no student had touched a computer, and few had even heard of the Internet. Today, the OLPC laptops are being used across the curriculum. And our two schools, half a world apart, have begun to collaborate on a shared curriculum with twinned classes.
This remarkable transformation has been made possible by solar power and innovative use of cellphone technology. Our partnerships with OLPC, the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Safaricom and CradlePoint have resulted in portable 3G wireless Internet coverage, durable laptops and reliable power for a rural Kenyan school of 200 students.
Jim Power , Principal, Upper Canada College, Toronto, and Phineas Inthinji, principal, Ntugi Day Secondary School, Isiolo, Kenya