After months of work from corporations, institutions, universities, Open Source communities and NGOs the first fully Open Source based lab is launched in Beijing. The purpose of organizing this Opening ceremony on November 12th is to raise concerns of Migrant Schools education from different organizations!
Everyday hundreds of thousands of children from migrant workers families who are building modern China fail to receive proper education and can’t get basic computer teaching, leaving them even more behind and increasing the digital divide. The complexity of addressing education needs for the part of the Chinese population requires a lot of problems to be solved and computer access is only one of the problems. However computers coupled with the possibilities of accessing the Internet will give them the chance to discover and access invaluable content which can secure their future and give them access to job they didn’t even know existed!
Delivering proper computer based education to poor schools issues range from electricity consumption from a full classroom (one normal PC can easily consume 60 to 200W, multiplied by 20 or 50…), teacher knowledge about IT and integration of the digital tool into their curriculum, content cost and licensing, and of course computers cost.
Today in Wende we have managed to address all the problems above thanks to technology, vision, and collaboration from various parties. The Chinese Academy of Sciences has built a general purpose low powered CPU that runs free software and which enables to consume as low as 15-17W per machine at a very competitive price, enabling manufacturers such as Lemote and Dexxon to build some of the cheapest netbooks on the market.
Thanks to Dexxon for its contributions and sponsorship of the classroom, WenDe today has a fully equipped 20 Gdiums Loongson based set up. Dexxon has sponsored Mandriva, a French Linux software company to bring the latest technology on the Loongson architecture and customized a Linux distribution for education.
Furthermore non-profit organizations such as Greenboard and LEAD have been building the education material together with teachers and released them under an Open Source license so any school can use them for free, modify and improve as they wish.
The last part has been completed by Greenboard and CSIP who are also graciously training the group of selected teachers by WenDe’s headmaster in order to get them ready to deliver the initial curriculum. LEAD is currently training some of their members to get ready to deliver the same kind of training to other migrants schools.
A special thank you goes to COPU for their support throughout the project and helping Greenboard and Dexxon to connect the dots.
So from now on the children of Wende school will be able to access the latest software and technology to become computer literate but also to improve their knowledge in general topics such as maths, English, geography, arts, problem solving, programming and much more.
The organizations involved will continue to build new curriculum, more exercise and will also get more teachers involved in the near future. One of the advantages of using a free software licensing model is that all the cost of such a solution only goes to the hardware and any school can just download, use and adapt the content to their needs. Hopefully we will soon see a strong teacher community improving this initial work and working together to create better free educational content for our children.