November 21, 2005 If education is the only sure-fire way to cure poverty, the world moved a step closer to solving many of its major problems this week when United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan unveiled a prototype hand-cranked US$100 laptop at the Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Tunis. In what could turn out to be an event of major historical significance at some later date, the launch of the initiative complete with working prototypes could herald a new era of education for the world’s poor.
The initiative was first announced by Nicholas Negroponte, MIT Media Lab chairman and co-founder, at the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland in January 2005 and in late September when Negroponte showed the first prototype images and concept drawings to the world’s press. Negroponte and his group believe that education via the laptop, will help to alleviate many of the problems afflicting developing and chronically poor countries.
A non-profit group called One Laptop Per Child has been founded by MIT to develop and market the laptop. The group will sell the machines to third world governments for distribution to children in their countries. Negroponte hopes more than 100 million laptops will be built by 2007.