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Empowering Youth Cambodia – XO Laptop Program Successfully Enters Its Second Year

xo-300x225The XO is not a “traditional” laptop used as a tool to get things done. It also is not a tool to “just” play games. Rather it can be viewed as a tool that familiarizes children with some of the technology and features used in “traditional” laptops while building knowledge and critical thinking skills. The XO software encourages users to learn through exploration and expression. It engages children in acquiring knowledge based on their interests and allows them to utilize built-in technologies to share and critique their work.

When the Cambodian NGO P.R.I.D.E. (a partner of One Laptop per Child [OLPC]), donated 25 XO laptops to EYC last September, we immediately were excited about the opportunity to enhance the learning experience and foster the technical and information acquiring skills of our younger students via the XO laptop.

The XO was designed and built especially for children in developing countries. It features a screen that is readable under direct sunlight, is energy efficient, and tolerates the high temperatures and humidity of Cambodia. Moreover, it comes complete with a keyboard that has Khmer language character and some software supporting Khmer.

After receiving these laptops we developed and implemented an XO class held thrice a week at our Aziza school for students between 9 and 14 years of age. Given the students’ excitement and learning progress through this program we are now in the process of offering the XO program to students at our Youth School and if enough XO laptops can be obtained, at all EYC schools.

Our students love learning and gaining their first computer experiences with this device. As 10-year old XO student Kirng  Sophy told his teacher, “I like to learn with the XO. Now I know some programs. When I know how to use new programs I feel so happy”.

What excites us most about offering the XOs to our students is the focus on self-directed learning. I firmly believe and have personally observed how it improves a young student’s critical thinking skills and simultaneously fosters empowerment; thus directly supporting EYC’s objectives. Cambodia’s wealthier children often have this type of access, and hopefully soon all interested children in the poor communities EYC serves will have too.

For general program or technical information you may contact Kunthy Teng, our IT Manager at tsokunthy@gmail.com

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