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Negroponte wows Sibos

Around a thousand delegates got to the exhibition centre bright and early this morning to hear what is sure be the most inspiring speech of the conference given by Nicholas Negroponte, founder and chairman of the One Laptop per Child non-profit association.

Negroponte, who is currently on leave from MIT where he was co-founder and director of the MIT Media Laboratory and the Jerome B Wiesner Professor of Media Technology - told delegates how the provision of primary education in developing countries was main driver behind his "$100 dollar laptop" initiative.

UN mandates state that by 2012 every child over 6 should have access to primary education. But it seems increasingly unlikely that this target will be met, particularly when you consider that there are currently 100 million primary age children around the world who aren't in school. Negroponte said that in countries like Nigeria and Pakistan around 50% of primary age children aren't in school. This figure rises to a massive 75% in Afghanistan.

Negroponte's initiative aims to provide a lap top - featuring only open source software - to provide a means for learning to the nearly two billion children in developing countries with little or no access to education.

Now there are some, including myself, who have tended to have a more cynical attitude to initiatives like this, particularly when you consider all those places in the world where the basics are missing - food, water, sanitation etc. So what is the point of a laptop? But judging by the length of the applause at the end of his speech,  it seems Negroponte's passion about using technology to empower kids in developing countries was enough to sway even the most cynical amongst us.

Those in the US and Canada will be hearing a lot more about the One Lap Top One Child initiative in the run up to a 'Give 1 Get 1' programme that kicks of on 12th November. For $399, you can purchase two XO laptops - one that will be sent to empower a child to learn in a developing nation and one that will be sent to your home. 

Those outside North America can also participate in the scheme but will have to have their laptop shipped to an address in the US or Canada. However this may change in the run up to the launch so it's worth checking the Web site.

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Comments: (1)

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 03 October, 2007, 17:50Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes The buy one, get one free offer - as it were - sounds a work of genius. I hope it's a success. Improving education and access to information are important, but as you say - it will only work if the basics are covered. Water, food, sanitation, electricity.