UNESCO estimates that eleven percent of primary school–age children—seventy-two million worldwide—are not enrolled in or attending school. Children who do attend may find themselves in schools that lack adequate space, facilities, or resources—impossible situations for learning. It is against this backdrop of profound need that One Laptop per Child (OLPC) emerged in 2005. The mission of the organization is to “empower the children of developing countries to learn.” They created the first affordable netbook specifically built to withstand harsh climates and the handling of young children—the bright green and white XO. At the 2005 World Economic Forum, Nicholas Negroponte, the MIT researcher who co-founded the Media Lab and OLPC, introduced the XO laptop to the world and described a new approach to changing education in developing countries. First, children must have access to information (through low-cost data communications) and the tools to educate themselves (affordable computers and learning software). Secondly, the fundamental approach to education must shift from passive knowledge acquisition to active construction of knowledge (learning how to learn). Thirdly, OLPC planned to build an organization with the capability to deliver these computers and support these shifts globally. It was an audacious vision of how to bring about a massive educational change.
About the Authors :
Walter Bender is the co-founder of One Laptop per Child as well as founder and executive director of Sugar Labs, a non-profit project that creates and distributes software learning products for children. In his tenure at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he founded the News in the Future Consortium and was the director of the MIT Media Laboratory.
Charles Kane is on the board of directors of the One Laptop per Child Association, where he previously served as chief financial officer in 2007 and president from 2008–2010. He is a senior lecturer in International Finance and Social Entrepreneurship at the MIT-Sloan Graduate School of Management and serves on the boards of numerous publicly traded technology companies.
Jody Cornish is a social change consultant and strategist with expertise in cross-sector collaboration to drive social change. She is a partner at New Profit, Inc., a venture philanthropy firm focused on supporting social innovation. Previously, she co-founded Lodestar International, a social and economic development consulting firm focused on emerging markets.
Neal Donahue is an expert in private-sector led international development. He is Director of projects for Egypt, North Africa and Yemen at Chemonics International, an international development organization. Along with Cornish, he co-founded Lodestar International.
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