WASHINGTON DC, June 26, 2008 – The World Bank’s Board has just approved a grant of US$ 1.0 million for a additional financing under Rural Education and Development Project (READ) in Mongolia.
Since December 2007, the Government of Mongolia (GoM) has been working with the One Laptop Per Child Foundation (OLPC) to introduce 20,000 XO laptop computers (computers that are specifically designed for primary school children) into the country’s schools in order to improve educational quality.
In the context of this ongoing initiative, the GoM has requested additional financing under the World Bank’s Rural Education and Development Project (READ) to support its ongoing collaboration with OLPC in order to leverage READ to enhance the value of integrating children’s digital libraries with the XO laptop computer platform in rural schools.
“The additional financing will support the distribution of a new deployment of XO laptop computers with Mongolia-specific educational content to children in selected pilot READ-participating primary schools, as well as training and a monitoring and impact evaluation of the project” said Arshad Sayed, Country Manager and Resident Representative, the World Bank Mongolia.
This additional financing will therefore fall under component (I) of READ: “to assist the Government of Mongolia in enhancing the quality of education in rural primary schools (grades 1 – 5) by improving students’ access to and use of quality learning materials.”
Main components of additional financing:
1. The provision of Mongolia-specific educational content on the XO laptop computers through an improved and adapted version of International Children’s Digital Library (ICDL) software. A Mongolian version of ICDL has already been developed under READ. It includes all the titles selected under READ and can be accessed through the internet or via local servers in a few pilot rural schools. Under this component, investments will be made to improve the readability of ICDL in XO laptop computers and to add other features such as automatic translation of text into English. The XO laptop computers will be able to access the improved version of ICDL through local servers, which will be supported by the additional IDA financing for the procurement of XO laptop computers and supporting peripherals. The financing will also support auxiliary investments in applications that improve the accessibility of the XO laptop computers, such as applications for the visually impaired.
2. The training of teachers and students in the successful use of the XO laptop computers to optimize their effect on students’ learning: Technical assistance will be provided to teach the effective use of the XO laptop computers and ICDL to both students and teachers. Teachers will also receive training in effective lesson plan design and curricular adherence. This training will support teachers in creating lesson plans that can be enhanced with the use of the laptop’s software activities and/or the Internet. The additional financing will benefit all teachers involved in the existing OLPC efforts.
3. The design of an effective monitoring and evaluation system to extract relevant lessons from the pilot and adjust the project design as necessary: The activities under additional financing will be designed so as to be able to evaluate its impact on teaching and learning outcomes. Technical assistance will be for designing and implementing the impact evaluation of the pilot, as well as developing the appropriate monitoring tools to ensure that XO laptop computers reach their intended beneficiaries. The computers will be deployed in different ways to look at the cost effectiveness of different approaches. This information will feed into the design of future expansions of the One Laptop Per Child initiative in the country.
4. The procurement of children’s laptops from OLPC The procurement of approximately 2,000 XO laptop computers will require investments in their purchase, storage, transport and distribution, as well as investments in the implementation of servers, hardware, and internet connections. The Government is already working with OLPC in urban areas and this additional support will focus on rural schools and bring the experience of the READ project to bear on the implementation of this Government priority.
A total project cost (additional financing) is US$ 1.0 million grant.