Democratizing Digital Education: One Laptop Per Child

Children are the most precious natural resource any country has. They grow up to be leaders of their countries and of the world. Investing in their education needs to be a larger focal point than it is currently.

There is a direct correlation between GDP and education. Better education means better GDP. McKinsey and Co., a global managing and consulting firm, conducted research that showed closing the educational gap between the United States and countries such as South Korea or Finland could boost the U.S. GDP by as much as $2.3 trillion. That comes to about 16 percent.

Investing in the youth

Sugata Mitra has dedicated his efforts to educating children in areas that are lacking in resources. He believes that children can self-educate themselves and has done research to test his theories.  His program, Hole-in-the-Wall, had huge success in India. Computers with high-speed internet and a touch screen were docked into a space in the wall at eye level. Sugata monitored children on the street as they walked by to see if they would catch on.

Children approached the screen and within minutes they were attempting to figure out what it was. In another tests, Sugata left games with the computers that were in English.  And although none of the children in the village spoke English, months later the children had taught each other English words, how to browse the web, and how to play the games.

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Sugata Mitra concluded that children would be able to self-educate themselves and friends as well. He is pushing to develop a handheld device to distribute to children armed with educational tools.

One laptop per child

Similarly to Sugata, Nicholas Negropante, founder of the MIT Media Laboratory, is pushing a program to supply children with laptops for educational uses. One Laptop per Child is a non-profit association that raised $20 million to have the laptop developed and they are looking to have more produced.

Nicholas believes that children learn better through computers because the learning is driven by them. Instead of being taught at, students are active and engaged in the educational process. The laptop can function as a computer, a gaming device and an electronic book.

Best of all, it will sell for $100 and Nicholas and the team are looking to market it globally.

Long term benefits

Supplying children around the world with laptops will prepare them for a competitive job market where computer skills are a necessity. Computers will assist the children as they develop and will provide them more flexibility when it is time for college.  Whether a student chooses an online degree or a traditional degree, the benefits behind being technical savvy are greater today than they have ever been.  If the one laptop per child initiative works as planned students around the world will be accustomed to working with computers. This skill will be useful and will open up opportunities to all students.

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