The One Laptop Per Child program is one of the most exciting and innovative solutions to the problems of our world. It is based on the premise that education is a vital part of the solution of nearly every problem in our world and the understanding that the one of the best educational tools ever created is the computer and the internet.
Often in the US there is discussion of a digital divide. A gap between the rich and the poor that is easily seen in the ability to own enough technology to allow children access to the internet and all that entails. This digital divide though is nothing compared to the digital divide between the richest and poorest countries in the world and the one laptop per child may be the solution to that.
The program was founded by Nicholas Negroponte in the hopes of creating a 100 dollar laptop that could serve the educational needs of children around the world. This price point has not yet been achieved but the goal has remained the same. And in nearly every place that it has been tried it has been successful. Dropout rates have plummeted and child involvement has improved. There have even been places where servers had to be turned off at night because the teachers were getting too many emails from children asking for their help.
The computer itself is an ingenious device. Small and green it is easy to recognize and because of the danger of theft it can be turned off at the source simply and easily making it a safe device to give to children. It has built in wireless connectivity to ensure that very little infrastructure is needed for the computer to work. The screen itself can be used with backlighting or in direct sunlight for children who go to school outside and can turn to turn it into a ebook reader or to act as a TV. In addition to this it is designed to be solar powered as much as possible though it can also be charged of a generator.
The computer specs themselves are more than sufficient for most things. They run a 433 megahertz and has no internal disk media using flash drives instead because they are far less likely to fail.
Although the One Laptop Per Child program has not yet fully achieved it price or distribution goals it is a fantastic program. It is helping children in developing countries to actually develop rather than simply being mired in another generation of poverty and when you hear the stories of the children’s desire to learn and the pictures of them with these laptops you can see that these laptops have the power to change lives.