The argument for one laptop per child is simple: many children—especially those in rural parts of developing countries—have so little access to school—in some cases just a tree—that building schools and training teachers is only one way—perhaps the slowest way—to alleviate the situation. While such building programs and teacher education must not stop, another and parallel method is to leverage children themselves by engaging them more directly in their own learning. It may sound implausible to equip the poorest children with connected laptops when rich children may not have them, but it is not. Laptops can be affordable and children are more capable than they are given credit for.
Once upon a time only the very adventurous could travel and only a few privileged individuals had access to knowledge. Technologies like the compass, paper, and printing changed the world by expanding these limits. Today there is the opportunity for Ethiopia to revolutionize knowledge once more, by participating in a revolutionary use of digital technology that will empower school children to explore the most distant places and to access knowledge on an unprecedented scale.
Throughout the world, computing and communications technologies are sparking a new entrepreneurial spirit, the creation of innovative products and services, and increased productivity. The importance of a well-educated, creative citizenry has never been greater.
Most people see a natural connection between computers and education. Computers enable us to transmit, access, represent, and manipulate information in many new ways. But they can do much more than that. They can move beyond static information-centric views of computing and learning by taking full advantage of new computational technologies, such as those in the One Laptop per Child (olpc) program. These will enable students and their teachers to become better learners and thinkers.