Posts filed under ‘youth’

Translation: a quarter of laptops distributed through the One Laptop Per Child program in Uruguay aren’t working

One in four laptops given for free by the government of Uruguay to all public school students two years ago is either broken, under repair, stolen or has crashed, according to an official report published in July.

In 2008 Uruguay was the first country in the world to implement the One Laptop Per Child program, created by US scientist Nicholas Negroponte.

The program aimed to provide every child in the developing world with a laptop for educational purposes, at an affordable price.

With this objective the Uruguayan government created ‘Plan Ceibal’, which between 2008-2009 gave laptops to 380,000 children between 6 and 12 years of age who were enrolled in the country’s public schools.

Now the government has completed a survey to check the condition of the laptops, which has found that 27.4 percent are out of operation for different reasons.

According to the survey 14.2 percent of the laptops are broken; 6.2 percent are being repaired; 3.9 percent are frozen or crashed; one percent have been stolen; and the states of 3.1 percent are unknown.

In the country’s interior, where the laptops were first distributed in 2008, 29.9 percent of the laptops aren’t working. In Montevideo, the capital, 19.6 percent aren’t working, but children there received the laptops a year later in 2009.

The percentage of broken laptops in poor areas is higher, where only 66.3 percent are working. In more favourable environments the percentage reaches 83.5 percent.

“A significant number of faults were expected, but not this many. This discovery means that we’re revising aspects of the plan’s operation and coming up with measures to lower that number,” Fernando Brum, director of Plan Ceibal, told SciDev.Net.

Among the measures include a call centre to help users with broken laptops, mobile repair services to work in schools, and ways to reduce the cost of repairs.

Workshops for parents and teachers on how to look after the laptops have also been organised.

“We should keep in mind that 2010 is the first year that Plan Ceibal is operating across the whole country. We’re still gaining experience and problem solving; reducing the number of laptops that are out of service is one of our primary objectives,” concluded Brum.

You can read about the report in Spanish on the Plan Ceibal site.

This is my translation of a story written by Daniela Hirschfeld on the Science and Development Network, “Uruguay: cuarta parte de portátiles del OLPC no funciona”, published on August 11, 2010. You can read the original in Spanish here.

SciDev.Net stories are published under a Creative Commons attribution license; my translation is available under the same license. Note this license is only for this page. Other works on this website are subject to other licenses; please contact me for details if you’d like to republish other parts of this site.

August 17, 2010 at 3:52 am Leave a comment

Problem drinking

People drink alcohol for various reasons – socially, to relax or sometimes just to get through the day. Problem Drinking explores the issues around alcohol dependency and abuse and considers their implications for health and society.

The information comes from a range of sources including government reports and statistics, newspaper reports, features, magazine articles, surveys, and literature from lobby groups and charitable organisations.

You can read more about this book on the publisher’s website; you can buy it there, or on Amazon.

Editors: Lisa Firth and Cobi Smith
Publisher: Independence Educational Publishers
Price: £6.95
Cover: Paperback
ISBN: 978 1 86168 409 7
Published: September 2007

November 21, 2007 at 6:43 pm Leave a comment

Antimalarials ‘give children an edge’ at school

Preventative malaria treatment could improve schoolchildren’s performance in endemic areas, a study suggests.

The research was presented at the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine’s conference in London, United Kingdom, last week (14 September).

Benson Estambale, director of the Institute of Tropical and Infectious Diseases at the University of Nairobi, Kenya, investigated whether giving preventative antimalarial drugs to primary schoolchildren improved their educational performance.

More than 6000 students from 30 schools in the Bondo district of West Kenya were administered antimalarial drugs three times in 2005–2006.

“[Preventative treatment] is very much recommended for pregnant women and has been tried in infants and young children, but nothing had been done in children over five years of age,” Estambale said.

“We found that quite a number of people wanted to have their children treated for malaria, because they said that malaria was causing a lot of absenteeism in school and the children were coming home when they had fever.”

Treatment cut the students’ risk of malaria parasite infection by more than a third, as well as reducing anaemia. Researchers found that treated children performed better in cognitive tests and also did slightly better in school exams.

Previous studies of malaria-infected regions indicate that up to 50 per cent of all preventable absenteeism in schools is due to malaria, and the research team found that a number of people wanted to have their children treated for malaria because of absenteeism, Estambale told delegates.

Estembale said the Kenyan Ministry of Education had expressed interest in the study and the researchers hope it could lead to the introduction of routine preventative therapy for schoolchildren, as the government has done with de-worming.

“De-worming has become official policy in the country and school health programs are now de-worming the children twice in a year to remove all the intestinal worms that could impact negatively on children’s performance in schools,” Estambale said.

Nick White, head of tropical medicine at Mahidol University in Thailand and a WHO advisor, said the results were exciting but future research should further examine the exact relationship between drug efficacy and educational performance, and whether the findings applied in other malaria-affected regions.

Nick White, head of tropical medicine at Mahidol University in Thailand and a WHO advisor, said the results were exciting but future research should further examine the exact relationship between drug efficacy and educational performance, and whether the findings applied in other malaria-affected regions.

Further studies are planned for Kenya and Senegal, but Estambale also hopes to hear from other potential partners.

“We would like to get partnerships even in Asia as well as South America, because children are children, and we know that in malaria-endemic areas, although quite a number of them are semi-immune, they continue having malaria impacting negatively on educational performance,” he said.

Read this story on the Science and Development Network.

October 5, 2007 at 1:09 pm Leave a comment

Reflecting on the World Youth Congress – UniSA student magazine piece

I was one of the first students enrolled in the University of South Australia’s double degree in journalism and international studies. I’m now in my fourth year, which will drag into my fifth because of extracurricular commitments. The latest has been attending the World Youth Congress in Stirling, Scotland, as one of six Australian delegates.

Starting out in the degree, I thought the logical resulting career would be as a foreign correspondent! Some years later, after working for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, I’ve replaced that ambition with something a little more complex. The best thing about the degree – more than any lectures or tutorials – is the opportunities that come with it. I’ve tested the waters with jobs as diverse as reporting at the Rugby World Cup, looking at legal issues in radio programs for the Law Foundation of South Australia, and editing an environmental paper.

I’d say these diverse jobs, along with my international experiences, led to my acceptance as a delegate and journalist for the World Youth Congress. I was one of 40 journalists, and about 550 other young people working towards sustainable development, who attended the 10-day event.

Young journalists were asked to arrive in Stirling two days early for media training and briefings. This was in addition to delegate responsibilities of attending workshops and helping prepare a policy document, to be submitted to governments worldwide, and an action toolkit for young people wanting to contribute to development. As journalists, we were also involved in making documentaries that screened at the Congress each day, publishing a daily newspaper, and editing and formatting the outcome documents prepared by delegates. It was a busy 10 days.

The two days before the Congress, which included film documentary and photography workshops, were a great opportunity to network with young journalists from places like Serbia, Brazil, Cameroon, and China. It was the ideal way to get experience in both the disciplines I’m studying.

As well as being great personal development for all the delegates, the Congress will hopefully go beyond that and contribute to international development. I’ve joined some Australian and international non-government organisations as a result, which is just the beginning. There’s a worldwide movement for youth-led development, particularly in African and Pacific nations where, unlike Australia, the majority of the population is young people.

We’re lucky in Australia. Most young people have the chance to be students. As students, we have opportunities that most young people in the world don’t. It’s only in the latter half of my degree that I’ve really started to get active on international issues. I’ve been reporting on them, and studying them, but I haven’t done much. I’m trying to change that.

The next World Youth Congress is planned for 2008, to be held in Quebec. If it sounds like something you’d be interested in, start thinking now about how to get there. As a student, there is ample opportunity for you to contribute to youth-led development.

Make the most of it.

You can read this story on Students@UniSA.

November 8, 2004 at 8:09 pm Leave a comment

Youth, not criminals

I produced a radio piece in 2003 on young people and crime, hosted by Radio Adelaide for Australia’s National Youth Media Network, which you can listen to here.

This followed a radio series on justice issues I’d done for the Law Society of South Australia and Radio Adelaide, which you can read about here.

Contact me or Radio Adelaide if you would like to listen to this series.

October 8, 2003 at 3:40 pm


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