Uruguay’s national OLPC project Plan Ceibal provided an XO ($100 laptop) to each of the 395,000 children in primary school from 1st to 6th grade across the country’s 2332 public schools. The government invested $100 million in these laptops and the last laptop was handed over last October.
The acronym “Ceibal” stands for Basic Informatic Educative Connectivity for Online Learning (Conectividad Educativa de Informática Básica para el Aprendizaje en Línea) and was chosen for the ceibo tree's symbolic meaning to the Uruguayan people. (One Laptop Per Child)
The laptops have been rolled out to high schools for free and under a different financial scheme, to private schools. Michael Trucano at EduTech blog informs:
There is a complementary educational television channel. Schools serve as centers for free community wi-fi, and free connectivity has been introduced in hundreds of municipal centers around the country as well. There are free local training programs for parents and community members on how to use the equipment.
With the help of a Rising Voices micro-grant, Blogging Since Infancy project announced several awards at a national blogging competition for the OLPC users – the primary students. Some of the awards included sponsorship of the winners to attend special courses on educational use of blogs, video editing and other skills.
On October 15th the Workshop for the training of teachers arranged by Ceibal has ended. It started on June 17th and a total of 16 days, eight hours per day were spent on this training. From the project blog:
It also emphasizes the creation of more Teacher Blogs where they have shared their experiences.
Their work will be reflected in the Ceibal Fair which will take place between 15 and 19 November in Florida, Sarandi Grande, Fray Marcos and Cardal where rural schools and colleges in each area will participate.
The Plan Ceibal project not only provided the laptops but also created localized software for them using local talents and resources. Miguel Brechner of Plan Ceibal evaluated the project's success during his TEDxBuenosAires talk:
“A lot of the data we gathered points to one thing: it was worth it. It was worth it because kids are more motivated when they go to school. It was worth it because they are more motivated to do homework. It was worth it because they are not repeating grades where we have been able to measure. It was worth it because we gave thousands of children identification documents since we did not give a laptop unless they had some sort of national ID, or at least the parents’ ID. So in that sense the children were properly identified.
It was worth it because it increased self esteem in a lot of children. A lot of children learned about photography, about film, about music… At last, it was worth it because we have transformed a privilege, which was to own a computer in the year 2006, to a right.”
Christoph Derndorfer mentions Uruguay as the Switzerland of Latin America and lists evaluation of six criteria for successful implementations of ICT for Education projects. The Plan Ceibal ranked well in all of them and has become a success story to be replicated in other parts of the world.