Lord Nelson of Stafford Lecture
Children as a mission not as a market
“It’s not a laptop project. It’s an education project.”
Mr Rodrigo Arboleda Halaby
About the lecture
One laptop per child
Mr Arboleda, Chairman and CEO of the One Laptop per Child Association, discussed the world’s digital technology divide and the impact this has on education.
The individual and societal consequences of inadequate education are profound. Children can be consigned to poverty and isolation. At the same time their governments can struggle to compete in a rapidly evolving, global information economy, hobbled by a vast and increasingly urban underclass that cannot support itself because it lacks the tools to do so.
This lecture will look at the ‘One Laptop per Child (OLPC)’ mission and, in particular, how technology can play such an important part in empowering the world’s poorest children. Mr Arboleda will argue that it is time for change.
Background on OLPC
The idea of one computer per child dates back nearly 40 years, to the constructionist learning theories pioneered by Seymour Papert. Papert was an MIT mathematician, computer scientist, educator, and protégé of Jean Piaget, the father of cognitive development theory. According to Papert, computers provide children with a highly flexible platform for learning through creating and sharing ideas and through self-expression. By facilitating learning, computers empower children’s cognitive development.
Since the 1970’s there have been numerous pilot projects involving children and the use of computers – all with positive results. By 2004 Nicholas Negroponte, a founder and chairman of OLPC and the cofounder of MIT Media Lab, concluded that it was time to turn theory into reality. In 2005, Negroponte unveiled the One Laptop per Child initiative. The mission of One Laptop per Child (OLPC) is to empower children to learn by providing one connected laptop to every school-age child to make education for the world’s children a priority, not a privilege.