From the earliest, even pre-XO, days the One Laptop per Child vision was focused on finding ways to reach the most remote and isolated children in the world. As XOs flew off to Mongolia, Ghana, and Niue, thousands more found their way to children in La Macarena, Port-au-Prince, Dujiangyan and Rafah. Locations still isolated and remote but where the impact is amplified by children’s direct witness to intense trauma, either as the result of biblical-scale natural disasters or chronic intense violence. As the recent UNESCO Global Monitoring Report highlights, nearly 30% of the children without access to school live in conflict zones. The targeting of educational institutions, teachers, and academics has been chronicled and was the focus of another UNESCO Report (“Protecting Education from Attack”). The legal dimensions of this ongoing crisis, as well as the best practices to both shield education and introduce specific peace-building tools, were the basis of a Qatar Foundation initiative; Education Above All.
OLPC’s foray into Education in Emergencies began with our successful, but largely underreported, partnership with UNRWA and comprehensive implementation in Gaza. OLPC also continued its development work in Afghanistan, South Sudan and other conflict and emergency settings. It was clear from most discussions and reports at the time that laptops (technology period) was not part of the pre- or post- crisis planning for education. The OLPC Foundation joined both the Education Cluster Working Group (ECWG) and the Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE) as part of an express strategy to instigate a broader and expert dialogue on how technology for learning can work in those conditions. Technology in Education in Emergencies not only defines OLPC’s beginnings, it is the proof point for OLPC.
Children and adults dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), without adequate resources to address it, are more likely to live in a poor country. Cyclones and hurricanes are three times more likely to occur in a rich country, yet over 80% of the casualties happen in poor countries. Likewise, refugees rarely migrate to a wealthy country, they either become internally displaced people or move to a similarly poor country. Not surprisingly and despite the higher numbers, less developed countries have fewer mental health resources to address the need and, globally, the capacity and ability to support the complexity of the need just does not exist. PTSD, trauma and emotional stress further impact cognitive abilities and bottom-out learning potential. For more on all this, start with the excellent chapter, “(Disaster) Public Mental Health” by Joop de Jong, in Trauma and Mental Health: Resilience and Posttraumatic Disorders.
OLPC is now entering the implementation phase of a 250 XO project in Haiti in collaboration with Haiti Street. Haiti Street is an inspired group that counts among its major partners both Dr. Jong, and the International Center for DisasterResilience (ICDR). (During my visit with them to Port-au-Prince in March we had an excellent meeting with John Engel from Haiti Partners. The collaboration would be significant). Rather than OLPC being seen as another programmatic stream, learning is enabled by and supporting psychosocial and medical care. Computational-based learning is a third integrated capacity. This is an innovative approach, and its prospects and the attention it is receiving are encouraging. I jumped while reading Dr. Jong, Dr. Robert Macy (really, OLPC community, get to know him and his team!) et al, discuss the effects of creative as well as trauma -focused activities on psychosocial well-being.
Blog entry from http://planet.laptop.org