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TEDxBuenosAires - Miguel Brechner Frey - 04/08/10

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"La bollada" is a neighborhood where people recycle things for a living, there are also workers with low wages... Many times they call it "La Aldea" because it is isolated. There are no cyber-cafe´s, no butcher´s shops, no supermarkets... It is a neighborhood where information access is almost impossible. Today, almost anyone has money to buy a computer And even if they buy it, they can´t put internet connection or anything like that This is Uruguay´s problem. Forty percent of children who assist public school´s belong to the poorest quintile of society and only three percent of that quintile enters to collegue. I would like to tell you, how we decided to change this situation by the CEIBAL plan and find a way to solve this crisis we live in. In 2005 Nicolas Negroponte had the idea "one laptop per child" that in our opinion, it was a great idea for Uruguay, a small country we thought we could adapt it to our reality and innovate with it From the first day we thought: "This is a social inclusion plan, this is an equity plan, this is a plan that is going to allow children and teenagers to have real opportunities in life" and if we are able to do it we are sure we are going to solve educational and learning issues and the infrastructure of a country who needs a lot to be able to give computers. When president Tavaré Vazquez announced this plan in 2006 he knew there were lot of risks for those who don´t know, president Vazquez is an oncologist therefore he knows that if risks are not taken, it is very difficult to find a cure for problems. We had very clear that the only risk we couldn´t take was the risk of not doing anything Because by not doing anything, we knew we would loose generations of children and teenagers in this situation. Why? It is very simple... The great economic growth we had in the last years is not good enough to reach those places that have lot of needs. The first innovative idea we took was to separate politics from management. In politics we created a multidisciplinary committee integrated by all the actors that were going to participate in the plan. We chose the Technologic Laboratory of Uruguay, where i was the president in that time, for management. You are probably thinking.. "What is so innovative about separating politics from management? which is the most logical thing to do..." It is not that simple... In our countries there are a huge ammount of politicians doing management and managers doing politics And that is the worst thing to do... We get so much trouble because of that, is brutal. The other big decision we took is that the educative system would not be who run this project. You are probably asking... Why? Because they are not prepared for this! We can´t tell the educative system..."take 300.000 laptops, or 100, or 50.000..." Because they are not prepared, they will spend time debating, then they´ll call consultants, which are going to call international organizations which will create a sofisticated group of conditions where very few participants will be able to accomplish. Like I call it, the infinite ladder of not taking risks. And what will happen is that society is going to pay much more for the product compared to its real value. And we were the ones who took the risk, and we were also sure that nowbody knew better than us how to do it, so it didn´t make any sense to delegate the project in other hands. Obviously, when we launched the project, we had two big problems One: Children know more than teachers. Teachers were very scared about this. We explained them that althought this was true, it would not hinder their ability as educators. I ask parents to raise their hands if you have lost authority when you asked help form your sons Nobody. And the children who help their parents, raise hands if you enjoy doing it. Most of them. And that´s what happened in class. The other very important thing for us was: Not put any kind of pressure on teachers. We knew that if we put pressure on them, the system would have failed. We told them: "You are going to receive the same laptop" (don´t forget, teachers and children from public schools received a machine). "Start using it as a tool, and then slowly adapt it to your classes" And by not puting any pressure, teachers interacted with their students and it was great, brillant because they were very motivated. We had a lot of people who didn´t agree with us, they said: "it´s to much money, we should solve other things, why don´t you give food, etc" But when I ask them. Did you buy a laptop for your son? The say "Yes" Then why you put against when the state decides to give laptops to all children in the country? When they do the effort to buy a laptop for their son. They discuss that much? I don´t think so. I´ll tell you now what we did, From first grade of elementary school to first year of high school, all the kids have a computer The laptop belongs to them. That is around 380.000 laptops, 98 percent of those kids have connectivity. 140.000 kids don´t need to walk more than 300 metres internet access. By the end of this year, all children will be in those conditions. We have trained more than 18.000 teachers. We are also working to settle internet in all the shanty towns. We have a TV channel that communicates the best educational tasks and we also have an educational web. Don't think that all this was easy to achieve, we had lot of difficult situations, I´ll tell you one for example... In order to avoid laptop trading, we use a software that blocks the computer in case the kid loose it or misses his classes. One day 50.000 laptops were blocked because of an internal mistake. Imagine the trouble we had! we had to unblock them, one by one, because the password is unique and teachers don't know it! How much did it cost? We invested more than 100 million dollars, So I don´t mix you with lot of numbers, each laptop cost 188 dollars and 60 dollars for everything else, I am talking of conectivity, antennas, internet, technical service, logistics, servers, spare parts, delivery... everything. We did this by public bid (national and international) If we expect four years of useful life of the laptop, it will cost us 75 dollars per year from wich 48 are because of the laptop and 27 for the aditional services required by such a big project. To give you an idea, this project requires less than 5% of the educational budget and less than 2 of 1000 of the GDP. Of course, after talking about all this I have to tell you the results, we invested more than 100 million dollares. The first result is: it can be done. The second and very important result is that we had 380.000 impacts, I can´t tell you about all of them and I am not so presumptuous to say I know them all. We have direct impacts, indirect impacts, impacts that we would never thought about. There are also many things, that we can´t say scientifically that happen because of CEIBAL. There are also many things, that although we can´t say they happen only because of CEIBAL we can´t say CEIBAL had nothing to do with them. Most of the data we have shows a very important thing it was worth it. It was worth it because are going much more motivated to class, it was worth it because they do their homework with more motivation, it was worth it because they are repeating less in the places we measure, it was worth it because we recovered the identity for thousands of kids, because we didn´t give a laptop unless the kid had their state identification card, so those who didn´t have would have to get it, it was worth it because lot of kids regained their self-esteem, many children learned photography, music, films. and there is no way they would have done it without the laptop. Undoubtedly it was worth it because public school is again the center of villages and neighborhoods. And because in that public school teachers are new teachers, they stopped being a wikipedia teacher to become a motivating teacher who wants to do and teach new things. Undoubtedly it was worth it because now teachers teach the kids, and kids teach their parents. Finally, it was worth it because a kid owning a laptop in 2006 was a privilege, today is a right. And that change was essential so that the entire political system, all the economic agents and society support and favor the project. Today we have thousands of volunteers working in schools and a large number of professionals helping us for free because they believe in the project. We still have a lot to do, we have just finished the first stage next stages will be much more work. In this first stage we did the technological insertion in homes and schools. We still have to reinvent the classroom, reinvent education and do that with parents. We use a phrase for describing CEIBAL, we say "If CEIBAL were a movie, it would be a comedy for the kids, a thriller for parents, and a drama for teachers". I have no doubts that CEIBAL doesn´t solve all Uruguay problems, it´s just part of the solution. Technology helps to create new ways of solving problems and new ideas to support them. It is also very important to know that this is a slow process, we have three variables: The social variable, the cultural variable and the educative variable. This three move in different speeds, we see social impacts very quickly, cultural changes a little bit slower and obviously we will see educative changes slower than the other two. But only by working on this three variables, only by working them together we can have hope for change, believe that change is possible and do it. Before I finish, I would like to show you a video because talking is easy, but images are much better. Don´t forget, your user and your password. Ok? All right, let´s get started. So what do we write here? "A text" Let´s see. What commands did you get? You have to turn it that way, "Look teacher", "perfect" Wonderful, really womderful We never thought that we were going to be able to show them international museums, libraries, download maps... Sometimes we look for information or images of what we are working on If zero is Y, put it in the center of the screen... People use it to look for jobs or writing poetry... My mom got a job with the computer she used to work three days a week but now that routine changed, because mom works all week thanks to a job I found for her. Look, I did it. There is a little square, like this, where you see yourself because of the camera I take pictures of my animals, like a little rabbit I have, or to my dad shearing. I do lot of things with the computer. Allowing them to take the computer home is really good, because it joins the family, it makes them interact with each other like showing an activity he did that day. Is true that parents are more interested now with their children studies. Usually he didn´t want to go to school but now that he has the computer he tells me: "Mom, i want to go to school" and he even cryes when he can´t go! He teaches his brother and us how to use the computer and now he spends hours with it. They teach us how to use it... We are constantly asking them "how do i do this?" and they teach us very quickly. We don´t know how to do it until he teach us... Is a new way of studying that we didn´t have. I want to be a graphic designer to design programs and do stuff in the computer that are going to be usefull... We are giving them the opportunity to learn things which they are going to need in the labor market. They know in which webs and how to use an internet searcher, and that is going to be very usefull for them. The school is taking a similar rhythm of the society they live in. I've allways liked school, and now that I use the computer I like it even more... Thank you very much.

Video Details

Duration: 16 minutes and 36 seconds
Country: Argentina
Language: Spanish (Spain)
Genre: None
Views: 219
Posted by: nicolasmarkous on May 26, 2010

Revolutionizing social inclusion in Uruguay with laptops for the kids

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