Nirmala Institute of Education (NIE), our primary partners in the OLPC project here in Goa, have around 18 XO-1s with them, which were initially kept there with the idea of using them for centralised Teacher Training workshops for Sugar for the Goa OLPC projects. But, since we have only the Merces school project on the OLPC map in Goa, we would end up doing all the training in the school’s premises, using the XOs that are with the school. This meant that the XOs at Nirmala could be used for other projects – perhaps another school in Goa. We started thinking about this and Dr. Rita Paes, principal of NIE, suggesting using them in their own Kindergarten School, which is housed within the same premises as NIE. Logistically and economically, this would be very convenient, especially given the fact that funding for the OLPC work in Goa has stopped and we don’t have the luxury of travelling to remote areas to implement projects. So we decided to take up the offer and start planning for a project at this school.
Nirmala Kindergarten is, as the name suggests, a pre-primary school. Kids at this school range from ages 2 and a half to 5 and a half. They have a toddler’s section, a junior and senior kindergarten section, and also a Resource Room for children with special needs. When we visited the school in August last year (2012) for the first time, we went to each class with an XO and interacted with the kids there – they were all excited to see the XO and we took a lot of pictures with them. And just to show them how child friendly and tough the XO is, I even dropped the XO a couple of times (this was after my new found confidence after watching Walter Bender drop it so effortlessly at all his demos here in Goa).
Then the discussions with the school started, mostly with the principal Sr. Olga and Dr, Rita Paes of NIE. We were going to use the laptops that were already with NIE but needed to add a few more so that each child would have her own XO, and the teachers would have their own as well. For this, we pulled out a few of the extra XOs from the Merces school (kept there as a backup in case their XOs failed, but never really used, thanks to the ruggedness of the XO). We fixed early November as the time to have the the Sugar training for the teachers at Nirmala KG, and decided to discuss when to start the project at the school during the course of the training.