Fast, easy, low-cost IT for street kids

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CLOCKWISE from top left: Richard Teo; Dell’s Donna Grande, Teo and Ramon Villacorta, with Teresita Silva; inside the mobile van; teachers Marvin Quintana and Joey Gacho in the new computer lab.

Technology is supposed to make the delivery of education, particularly to the underserved, faster, easier and more efficient.

But many technology-driven programs, particularly in the public schools and those designed to benefit children in dire circumstances like street kids, rely on desktop computers that are bulky, heavy, cumbersome and almost immovable once installed. They also consume so much energy that stretch limited budgets almost to the breaking point.

Prices of laptops and netbooks do not allow for bulk buying.

Now Dell Philippines has introduced at Childhope Asia Philippines a setup which its president, Richard Teo, describes as a complete solution to the pressing need to bring technology to as many children as possible at the shortest  time possible and at the least cost.

The system, as Teo describes it, would be easy both on the pockets of potential donors, to whom many public schools and nongovernment organizations (NGOs) turn for their computer requirements, and beneficiary schools while increasing the number of users of just one unit at least tenfold, based on how it is configured.

Total solution

The well-known computer manufacturer unveiled the innovative setup at the launch of the new computer laboratory of Childhope Asia Philippines, a nongovernment, nonprofit organization helping some 1,000 street children in 20 locations all over Metro Manila.

Part of the company’s Powering the Possible program, particularly the youth learning initiative aspect of the campaign, the laboratory has 10 cubicles, each with a monitor and keyboard, and only one personal computer (PC) running the whole setup.

Teo said, “We are not just donating computers but a solution—one PC can be used by 10 children, a technology that is low cost and has low power consumption—as well as education software, projectors, printers, etc.”

The scheme, which allows for several permutations depending on the needs and resources of institutions and schools that would adopt it, was made possible by Dell’s acquisition of Wyse (renamed Dell Wyse), a leader in cloud computing.

The Dell Wyse Cloud Client Manager allows a “single, simple console to manage end user devices, applications and content even as end users,” like students, have the flexibility to do the work they need to do.

“The system is perfect also for schools … [Working] with just  keyboards and monitors, children can be on their own. The teacher, who controls the terminal, can cut off any student who ventures into something other than the lesson,” Teo said.

He said they chose Childhope as the first beneficiary of its new total assistance package because “it has a very good program that Dell can support and which also allows company employees to volunteer their time and services [when and where needed].”

Teo said Childhope’s proposal was  aligned with Dell’s vision of bringing technology out to the people. Although the NGO’s reach of more than a thousand kids “may seem small, it has great potential,” Teo said.

Going where the need is

Dell Philippines also provided computers to Childhope’s two mobile vans that organize alternative education classes in areas where street children are most numerous.

Each mobile van, organized like small classrooms, has five to 10 laptops.

Teo said the system puts technology and expertise where people need them most. Childhope would be able to reach as many children as possible not by bringing them to its location but by going to where they are.

Dell has partnered with the local group AMTI to develop mathematics and science education materials for different elementary levels. The Singapore-sourced program would allow them to progress at their own pace.

While other donors would leave recipients to their own devices after the kodakan (photo opportunities) for computer donations, Teo said Dell would continue working with Childhope, providing technical support to ensure the computers were well maintained and teachers were  trained on how to use the hardware and software.

Dell volunteers will be dropping in every now and then to see how they can help.

This is why Dell Philippines, which has offices only in Metro Manila, will be considering project proposals from other NGOs.

Volunteer employees

Teo said they would be partial to those in the metropolis and nearby areas because they want their employees to be able to do volunteer work.

Teresita L. Silva, president and executive director of Childhope Asia Philippines, said that before Dell came at least two teachers shared one computer. She added that the new system would enable them to strengthen their database to monitor and document the progress of all street children.

Teo said they would consider proposals from other NGOs that would revolve around how technology could be used to reach out to people.

Schools and other institutions can also buy  customized packages for their own needs.

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