Class Acts

How 27 XOs Have
Changed The Lives Of
An Entire Community

Afghani refugees in Pakistan

A story of disaster and success, as life is precious and learning is beautiful. Although XOs can't assure it will be easy, it still can be wonderful.

Sometimes small changes have a way of growing into something much bigger. This was certainly the case with a small pilot deployment of 27 XO laptops at the Atlas Elementary School in an Afghan refugee community near Islamabad, Pakistan. Before the nonprofit OLPC Pakistan brought their XO laptops to Atlas School the teachers often kept order with big sticks; smiles were seldom seen on the faces of the refugee children.

Within a few short weeks of the XOs arrival, students were happily using their laptops to learn language, math, art, music, and geography. They were even learning English using E-books in their native Pashto language.  Incresing laptop usage directly related to and increase school attendance and  improved student behavior. Big sticks were no longer the lecture as they once were before the XOs arrived.

As they became more proficient in the use of the laptops, children cooperated in teaching other children how to use some of the Activities. They even learned to dismantle an XOs and do simple hardware repairs.

But then the school year ended and disaster struck. The owner of the building where the school was conducted said the children and instructors could no longer use it for a place of education. Although the principal hopes to find a new location for the school, for now its physical location has become unavailable.

Not to be deterred by this setback, OLPC Pakistan has continued with a second pilot school deployment at the Mehfooz Shahid Model School in the Korral Valley, beginning with XOs for all of the eight girls and seven boys in the school’s fourth grade class. An additional ten laptops have been placed in the school library where other students can use them and check them out overnight for use at home. More XOs are on order, and near future plans are to have one for every child in the school.


But what has happened to the children of Atlas School and their XOs? The OLPC team that had been working with them wondered as well. The team looked for the children and found them spending their days helping support their families by selling fruits and vegetables in the market or picking through trash heaps looking for things to recycle. The team found something else if interest, too ... the XOs.

The children still had their laptops and carried them to their work every day. Whenever time permitted, they continued to learn and play with their laptops. They formed an XO Club and met in the evenings at each other's homes to exchange ideas and show the new things they had discovered and created on their laptops.

The entire refugee community began to benefit from the laptops as the XO Club members took them to community meetings and allowed adults to use them to learn. They also shared them with their family members and other children, helping them to learn with their laptops.


The school remained closed last year, but the former students continue to receive an education from their learning software located on their OLPC XO laptops. The small investment of fewer than thirty XO laptops has changed the lives of an entire refugee community for the better.

This account was written by OLPC Support Gang member Caryl Bigenho, based on field reports from OLPC Afghanistan and OLPC Pakistan team members with additions by OLPC Support Gang Volunteers.

You can learn more about the XO Learning Club and the children from Atlas School today: