21 November, 2011

Lessons from Niue feed into other Pacific efforts

In terms of our regional initiative, One Laptop per Pacific Child, we have learnt much from our experience with Niue (which was our first donation to Pacific children), as we have from our other early Pacific pilots. For today, the primary lessons we take from Niue are that:
  • national education officials need to have goal-setting, deployment-planning and resource-mobilisation in place before any laptops arrive; this now seems very fundamental and is working in our favour in countries like the Marshall Islands, FSM, Vanuatu and Fiji.
  • a full-time national ICT-for-Education coordinator should be funded within government and be responsible for coordination and rollout of the OLPC program;
  • no matter how many politicians or parents in Small Island States publicly ask international donors to invest in ICT for basic education, none will be forthcoming without the active and real support of development partners.
The good news is that the countries which are just beginning their engagement with OLPC are taking these lessons on board and are benefiting from the experience of our early pilots.

Lessons learned from the OLPC Pacific pilot phase:
For an in depth analysis, see the independent evaluation of the OLPC pilot in Solomon Islands. Meanwhile some lessons learned from the OLPC Country Pilots in Niue, Solomon Islands,Papua New Guinea and Nauru include:
  1. The OLPC Programme enhances, strengthens and aligns with regional and country education goals and plans, including countries’ global commitments to the MDGs and Education For All;
  2. There is broad country-level demand and political and community support for the OLPC programme in the Pacific;
  3. Small pilots, while encouraging, provide an insufficient evidence base for policy makers;
  4. It is essential that Monitoring & Evaluation systems be integrated at the outset of any OLPC programme;
  5. Broader-based regional technical assistance is needed to aid country capacity building;
  6. A standing stock of XO laptops and hardware peripherals should be centrally maintained in the region to efficiently feed trial deployments in a timely and cost-efficient manner.
  7. There is suppressed demand for internet connectivity in rural and remote parts of the Pacific, especially schools.
  8. Criteria now exists for country and community readiness to undertake a trial program.

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