On Monday, Aug. 9, 2010, I visited the Jim Taylor Primary School in Kisap, PNG. Kisap is outside of Banz, which is outside of Mt Hagen by about an hour’s drive. The Jim Taylor School is taking part in the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) Initiative that is sponsored by the PNG SDP (Sustainable Development Program), which is the organization in charge of all of the OLPC deployments in PNG. The PNG SDP is a company that was founded as part of an agreement by the Ok Tedi mine in the Western Province, and its mission is to provide development-oriented projects to improve the quality of life for those affected by the Ok Tedi mining, although this project is being deployed on a wider scale. The Jim Taylor School is a primary school, which in PNG means grades 3-8. This school has about 450 total students with two classes for each grade level. At this time, grades 3-5 have the XO laptops, with about 245 total laptops having been provided to the school. It’s a beautiful school, far back from the main road, and the main path is lined with bright yellow and orange orchids.
All teachers also received an XO, then went through the week-long training provided by the team also in charge of the technology/install. The training and deployment had just taken place the week before, so this was a VERY new project! Their school is the first school in the Western Highlands province, and the third school in the entire country, to receive the OLPC XOs. The staff live in the buildings behind the school. I received an extremely warm welcome at this school, with all the children lining up along the road to welcome me (and the principal) to the school that morning. They had even made a chalkboard sign with my name on it to personalize the welcome.
To my surprise, these teachers told me that before the previous week’s training, none of them had ever seen or used a computer before!
Sorry, folks! Part II will have to come later, when I have a “better” Internet connection. I’ve tried to finish this post from both of my Internet Connections since I’ve been “in the field”—yes, all two of them. And this post has crashed more times than I can count, which has led to more frustration than I can continue to handle. The bandwidth just isn’t the same here!
Apparently it was folly to think I could keep up with the posts while on-site and “in the field.” And wordpress doesn’t seem to be very low-bandwidth-friendly!