Although One Laptop per Child has not met its lofty goals set out in 2005, the non-profit organization is making a difference to those who might not have ever experienced the Internet. This year, Peru is poised to receive about 4
86,500 lap top computers in order to improve the country’s education, which ranks 130th out of 131 countries in math and science according to the World Economic Forum. The number could reach 676,500 if the country’s Cuzco region buys into the program.
They will be distributed to children in first through sixth grade and teachers, all of whom have had little to no experience with computers and sometimes even textbooks.
Peru is spending close to $80 million for the laptops, but that is a bargain considering distributing the books that the computers come with would cost up to five times that amount.
The laptops come equipped with over 115 books, from math to literature, vastly reducing the cost of printing and distributing the books to schools. In addition, flash drives give the schools educational software to improve teaching.
Reading comprehension programs and introductions for teachers will help the students and teachers adapt and make the most out of their technological teaching tools. Word processors also come standard.
In addition to the straight forward educational programs, the computers come with interactive games that are aimed at challenging kids in engaging games that simultaneously teach them.
Art and music programs and games like chess and sudoku will hopefully improve a struggling educational system. They also come with a camera that can capture still images or video and they use considerably less power than standard laptops.
The software is part of the so-called constructionist method of education, whereby children learn primarily through exploration, collaboration, and discovery.
At the World Economic Forum in 2005, One Laptop per Child was unveiled with lofty goals units in the first run. It was co-founded by Nicholas Negroponte, the chairman emeritus of MIT's Media Lab, who said, “We will not launch this without five to ten million units in the first run," at the Technology, Entertainment, Design (TED) conference in February 2006.
Initially estimated at $100, such a goal was probably feasible, but production costs almost doubled, making the laptops cost $188. The increase forced out many large countries, and a partnership with India fell through after Education Secretary Sudeep Banerjee called them “pedagogically suspect.”
Instead of several million, the first run includes 500,000 laptops—a small number compared to initial goals, but a big number nonetheless for those who have never owned a computer.
Other countries participating in the program are Mexico, Uruguay, Haiti and Mongolia.
Peru is one of a few countries who have embraced the program, and if all goes well it will be the foundation upon which the One Laptop per Child can grow, improving children’s education throughout the world.
By Danny Scuderi
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