Nov 07 2012

A laptop for every pupil of Occidental Mindoro is now a looming possibility. Thanks to the mayor who dared to dream and the governor who is turning that dream into bigger reality.

Mayor Juan Sanchez of Lubang, Occidental Mindoro is a hands-on town executive who sees to it that the elementary school children in his municipality are equipped with the latest technology to improve learning. Thus, the “One Laptop Per Child” (OLPC) project was born to benefit Grade IV pupils of Lubang Central School and Maligaya Elementary School in 2010- becoming the first OLPC adoption in Southeast Asia.

Now on its second year, Lubang’s OLPC project has provided 210 XO laptops units – 100 from National Computer Center Community Outreach and another 110 XO laptops from Sanchez’ friends who chose to remain anonymous. These were distributed to another generation of grade IV pupils in the same pilot schools. Last year’s recipients are now computer-savvy.

The XO is extremely durable, functional, energy-efficient and fun.

Sanchez observes – which the teachers confirm – “the use of the XO laptop has given the pupils not just  computer-literacy but better appreciation for education.”   They learn, share, create and collaborate. The XO laptop is designed for the use of children ages 6 to 12-covering the years of elementary school.

Education Secretary Br. Armin A. Luistro FSC said: “We need a broader collaboration to reach our school children through the social investment of individuals and business communities. We see this as a key step in what could eventually lead to an information communication technology (ICT)-enabled education for the youth of Occidental Mindoro.”

The XO has been designed to provide the most engaging wireless network available. The laptops are connected to each other, even when they are off. If one laptop is connected to the Internet, the others can follow to the web.

Children can  share information on the web (if provided with internet access), gather by videoconference, make music together, edit texts, read e-books, take photos, make videos and produce projects using Sugar software.

Encouraged by the many benefits of OLPC, Occidental Mindoro Governor  Josephine Y. Ramirez –Sato has decided to expand the project to include the provision of XO laptops for Grade IV pupils in the remaining ten municipalities of the province.

The model for deployment is one laptop is to two pupils. It was an idea to reach more pupils and still operate in an acceptable level of laptop utilization considering financial limitations. The first batch of 550 units of 1.5 XO Laptops arrived in November 2011 and were distributed to schools on a one laptop per two pupils (1:2) model. It was funded by the provincial government. The four beneficiary schools are Magsaysay Central School, San Jose Pilot Elementary School, Adela Central School and Calintaan Central School.

The provincial government continues to work closely with eKindling (Education Kindling), a non-profit organization, which has the expertise to design, develop and co-create educational programs using the OLPC XO laptops.

Sato aims to further expand awareness and adoption of ICT-based learning that are anchored on the community’s collective strength. “Our partnership with other community-based stakeholders is anchored on optimizing the use of limited resources through creativity and innovation,” she explained.

Another 550 units for the remaining six towns of the province are expected to arrive by midweek of November 2012 for a total of 1,100 XO units for school Year 2012 to 2013 for an estimated 1,844 users (students and teachers). It is financed by donations from local and international donors through Phildev (formerly Ayala Foundation). Donors include Irwin and Dr. Carmencita Jose, Maharlika through Tomas de los Reyes, Federation of Philippine Societies of New Jersey, and The Filipino School of New York and New Jersey.

To date, there are on-going training sessions for “champion” teachers for the remaining six municipalities to equip them with 21st century literacy through ICT for Education (ICT4E) tools in teaching pupils using the new technology.

 

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