My son Matthew visited us at home in Connecticut recently following a trip to Tanzania to explain to the presidents of the five East Africa states the benefits of the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) program. He serves that non-profit organization as a marketing director. I asked him how it went and this was his response:
“I was invited to Tanzania to give a presentation to the East African Legislative Assembly where I represented the organization One Laptop per Child. The occasion was the tenth anniversary of the East African Legislative Assembly. In attendance were the Presidents of Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Burundi, Kenya, and Zanzibar (a semi-autonomous state).
“My argument for OLPC was simple: learning should be the most engaging, most rewarding, most positive aspect of a child’s life, inside and outside school. High-quality education should be the paramount objective of any government. Connected laptops provide a cost-effective way for countries to create learning environments that facilitate the greatest possible development of all children, rich or poor, urban or rural, male or female, white or black.
“To turn that idea to a reality, OLPC, headed by founder Nicholas Negroponti, developed the world’s only low-cost, low-power, rugged, connected laptop, and has already distributed more than 1.5 million laptops to primary school children around the world. Because of the success of early deployments, national governments as diverse as Peru, Rwanda, Uruguay, Mongolia, Ghana and Nepal have committed precious resources to the purchase of XO laptops. The total number of machines deployed will soon reach 2 million. In the coming year, OLPC’s primary objective is to reach even more children in communities around the world in need of a transformation in education and increased access to knowledge.
“My invitation to address heads of state in East Africa represented a clear desire on behalf of the five East African nations to address head-on the need to transform education with technology, and to give their children the opportunity to become part of a rapidly growing global network of connected and educated young people. I was there to introduce the idea that if this generation of children could grow up able to design software, to think critically, and to connect to each other and to the world’s body of knowledge, then there is nothing that isn’t possible.”
Matt was previously a program manager with the United Nations World Food Program in Rome and has served as legislative director for Common Cause. He lives now in Connecticut.
In the video below, Matt starts his address at the 2:46 mark.