The gift of the computers is part of ITU’s initiative to promote affordable devices to increase access to ICT. ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun Tour said, “ITU is committed to connecting the world. And to achieve this goal, affordable devices have to be made available for people everywhere to access the benefits of a knowledge-based Information Society.”
Youth Forum participants at ITU TELECOM ASIA 2008 will receive XO laptops developed and manufactured by One Laptop Per Child (OLPC).
OLPC, a non-profit organization established by Nicholas Negroponte, Founder and Chairman Emeritus of MIT’s Media Lab, has donated 100 XO laptop computers to ITU. “I see the presentation of the XO laptop to young participants at ITU TELECOM ASIA as the continuation of a long partnership with ITU,” Mr Negroponte said.
Low-cost and child-friendly, the XO computer is designed as a ‘kid’s machine’ with colourful and visually distinctive features, yet suitable for use in rugged conditions. It features environmental safeguards as well as an innovative security system that protects children against both cyber threats and theft.
The XO laptop is seen as a creative tool to empower the cognitive development of children. According to the pioneering mathematician and computer scientist, Seymour Papert, computers provide children with a highly flexible platform for learning through creating and sharing ideas and through self-expression. Papert was himself a protg of Jean Piaget, the father of cognitive development theory in children.
A partner of ITU’s Connect the World initiative, OLPC launched its prototype at the World Summit on the Information Society in Tunis in November 2005. Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan lauded the initiative as a “truly moving expression of global solidarity”. He said the laptop could unlock the “magic within each child, within each scientist, scholar or plain citizen-in-the-making”.
Now, with the coming of age of the XO laptop, Youth Forum participants at ITU TELECOM ASIA 2008 will have the privilege of taking home one of these innovative machines.
The ITU TELECOM Youth Forum is a unique initiative aimed at the young and focused on information and communication technologies (ICT) as a catalyst for social and economic development. Created by ITU in 2001, the Youth Forum has built itself a reputation for information gathering and knowledge sharing. A regular event since its launch at ITU TELECOM AFRICA 2001, the Forum engages young people in the burning issues of the time, making it an incubator for fresh, even revolutionary ideas.
“This low-cost, child-friendly laptop goes a long way in making universal access a reality,” Dr Hamadoun Tour said. “Children and young people in developing countries crave to communicate with each other and with the rest of the world, opportunities that young ICT users elsewhere now take for granted. This laptop empowers the young to seek information and knowledge and to use their creativity to make this world a better place.”
Mr Negroponte said, “OLPC is about creating new opportunities. Our intention is to provide the context in which young people everywhere can express their creativity and share their knowledge and experience with their peers, with their communities and with the world at large.” He added that by educating themselves, a new generation will be better prepared to tackle serious global challenges such as poverty, malnutrition and disease.
The first-generation XO user interface allows children to engage in mesh networking with their peers and their community, with or without Wi-Fi Internet access, making learning and teaching a social activity. Using open source software, the XO leaves students and teachers free to reshape, reinvent and reapply their content. Designed to work on very low power consumption, averaging 2 watts compared with 20-40 watts in standard laptops, the XO also contains an embedded still/video camera. The next-generation XO-2 laptop is due in 2010 with even lower power consumption – down to 1 watt – and lower cost, with a target price of USD 75.