Can Laptops Alleviate Poverty?
I recently learned about the program One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) when founder Nicholas Negroponte was interviewed on the Comedy Central program The Colbert Report earlier this week. His company designs and donates laptops to schools in developing communities across the world.
|The Colbert Report||Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
Negroponte is famous for asserting, “the physical book is dead.” Or at least will be in as few as five years. His response to this travesty was to engineer specialty laptops to be virtually indestructible (both inside and out), to have exceptional battery life, all the latest in screen resolution technology and, most importantly, the ability to hold thousands of books, educational materials and reliable connectivity to meet the demanding needs of third world schools. His goal is to “provide educational opportunities to the world’s poorest children by providing each child with a rugged, low-cost, low-power, connected laptop with content and software designed for collaborative, joyful, self-empowered learning.”
At first I was a bit skeptical. Why? Because I write this post on a brand new Lenovo desktop that occasionally reboots itself without my instructions. I suspect I acquired a malware in just s few short months. I researched this article using a high-speed internet connection that oscillates between lightning speed and a zombie crawl. Who doesn’t have computer issues? In areas where clean drinking water is even higher on the list of necessities than electricity, will laptops for all really be the best solution for the education crisis in the third world?
This is a very noble project, but one has to ask, is access to the internet more valuable to third world countries that basic education, medical care, and clean water? Perhaps we should focus on these first, and send laptops once the basic human needs of countries are being adequately met.
Negroponte seems passionate about finding real world solutions to help alleviate poverty. His XO laptops are engineered with the needs and demands of developing communities in mind, and have so far withstood real world and simulated tests. I encourage you to learn more, maybe “friend” the organization on Facebook and offer your support in any way you can.
Carrie H. Busha has a lifelong passion for writing and sharing ideas. She sees in integral connection between one’s personal faith and the betterment of all of humanity, and through her posts here explores new ways of experiencing spirituality and charity through technology.