August 24, 2008

Tiny Nation of Niue Gets Laptop for Every Child

I just read that every child in the small island nation of Niue will receive a laptop from the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) nonprofit organization (see "Niue gives a child a laptop"). For those of you unfamiliar with OLPC, their vision is "To create educational opportunities for 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." Governments, nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector should support initiatives that use technology in creating free accessibility to education.

Most of you will agree that education is one of the most important resources necessary for building and sustaining a stable future. Regardless if you support OLPC or not, organizations such as OLPC are essential to creating sustainable development opportunities, socially and economically, in the developing world. During my international travels, I remain appalled by the high cost of basic education and the lack of resources. My profession focuses on private sector development and creating the tools for entrepreneurs to succeed, but none of this is possible without citizens having access to basic education and the ability to learn technical skills.

Regarding the OLPC initiative in Niue, part of this initiative is contingent upon the fact that Niue provides free wireless access to all 1,500 of its inhabitants. I recognize that providing free wireless access to an entire country may be infeasible for most governments, but starting with individual villages or states/provinces may be a realistic way to bridge the digital divide. Economic development is an essential vehicle to poverty eradication and education is the centerpiece to any sustainable development.

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