Laptops for Kids

Five million of the world’s poorest children may get their own laptop computers this year. They will be among the first to plug in to “One Laptop Per Child”, an ambitious educational project backed by former UN Secretary- General Kofi Annan.

Sturdy and simple to use, the battery-powered XO laptop features wireless networking and video conferencing, so users can keep in touch with friends at home and overseas. Backers of the project hope every child will use their XO as a “window on the world, as well as a highly-programmable tool for exploring it”.

One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) is a not-for-profit organisation aimed at bringing “true learning possibilities” to children in the developing world. It first made headlines at the 2005 World Summit on Information Society when its chair, Nicholas Negroponte, and Mr Annan unveiled a prototype $100 laptop. Since then, countries such as Brazil, Cambodia, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan and Rwanda have signed up to buy XO machines. Mass production is scheduled to begin in July when five million will be built.

The first batch of the lime-green-and-white laptops will cost around $150 each but OLPC hopes that by 2008 the price will fall to $100 apiece and below $100 by 2010 – when it aims to reach 150 million children.