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Providing Kids with the Future They Deserve, One Laptop at a Time

By Elizabeth R. Elstien

What if your mission was to empower the world's poorest children through education? Since 2004, One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) has given a laptop to children throughout the world whose schools are involved in their project as a means of learning and growing. From Nepal to Nicaragua and Armenia to Ethiopia, kids throughout the world are experiencing the freedom to learn with a connected computer. Holmes Elementary School, supported by Knight Foundation, was the very first Miami school to be part of the OLPC program in 2011.

The concept of the nonprofit OLPC goes back 40 years with its roots in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Constructionist learning theories of Seymour Papert. Marketing Representative Diriana Teran explains the learning theory, "Constructionist learning involves students drawing their own conclusions through creative experimentation and the process of making things. According to Papert, computers provide children with a highly flexible platform for learning through creating and sharing ideas and through self-expression. By facilitating the learning process, computers further the cognitive development of children."

Early 2004 saw theory turn into the reality when Nicholas Negroponte introduced the OLPC initiative at the World Economic forum in Switzerland. As a MIT professor and founder of their Media Lab, Negroponte knew that it was feasible to create build a connected laptop for all the world's children. Made as a low-power, inexpensive yet durable computer for kids, the specialized XO laptop was borne featuring innovative educational programming from a flexible platform. To bring their learning concept to more families, Walmart began selling the OLPC tablet in 2013 for a reasonable price, complete with lots of educational apps.

Teran tells us, "During the past 10 years, OLPC has distributed more than 2.5 million laptops to primary schools around the world, in cooperation with organizations and individuals willing and committed to transforming education and the future of each child." The nonprofit continues its educational mission partnering with governments, NGOs and other donors. In creating and distributing the XO laptop, OLPC hopes to create a completely new way of learning to help end poverty throughout the world.

With this far-reaching goal in mind, Teran explains, "OLPC is motivated by a belief that learning is the basis for full human, social and economic empowerment. Only when all children are provided with a quality education, will we be able to collectively overcome the issues that face our world. OLPC is dedicated to providing all children with the future they deserve."

Photos courtesy of Zamora Teran Foundation.

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