OLPC Foundation and IDB Team Up to Bring Computers to Haiti
The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) Foundation and the Inter American Development Bank recently announced a plan to ensure access to computers for over 13,000 Haitian students. Under the plan, the OLPC Foundation will provide 2 million dollars, the IDB will provide 3 million, and UNESCO will carry out an external evaluation. If the program is successful, and we hope it is, then it could be expanded further in Haiti and other countries.
We've previously written about the weaknesses of the Haitian educational system and also made suggestions for how to improve it. The emphasis on rote memorization and passive learning is ultimately disempowering. Resolving Haiti's social problems will require a generation of dynamic and creative problem solvers who feel empowered to make a difference.
Some of the Peace Corps Volunteers started internet centers, others trained students on how to use the internet. I was amazed by the enthusiasm our students had for learning to use the internet. It was empowering for them. Anyone with a functional understanding of English, French, or Spanish had access to the world's largest library - no small thing in a country with very few true libraries. In effect, students could do their own research and teach themselves.
The laptop the Foundation is using is called the XO - it is durable, has a graphic interface, and currently costs 200 dollars. The hope is that eventually the XOs can be produced for 100 dollars. Wisely, they are developing resources for students to use in Haitian Kreyol. Once students understand materials in their own language, then is the logical point to branch out in French, English, or Spanish - all of which have some degree of utility for Haitians.
In a globalized world, being connected has become essential. You can read about this new partnership here and then watch a video here. If you would like to support this worthy cause, you can make a contribution online through the OLPC website.