RealTime IT News

One Laptop Per Child a Solar Movement

The One Laptop per Child (OLPC) program has suffered the occasional bumps in the road due to squabbling here in the U.S., but now that it's finally out and being deployed, the program is seeing success in the most remote parts of the world.

Usually, the OLPC XO laptop requires a power outlet, but the OLPC organization also has been shipping solar-powered laptops for some of the most remote, rural and poorest locations.

According to the group, more than 500,000 Internet-capable, solar-powered laptops have been distributed to children in places like Rwanda, Ethiopia, Mongolia, Cambodia, Afghanistan, Haiti, and Nepal. These children learn, play, program, and have access to thousands of books in their language, as well as millions on the Internet.

OLPC restarted its Give One, Get One (G1G1) program last month, the second time for the program. Last year's effort supported the production of over 150,000 XOs. This year the XO laptops will be shipped to donors through Amazon.com.

Like last year's program, donors can give $199 to give a laptop to a child in the developing world and/or give $399 to give a laptop to a child in the developing world and get a laptop for themselves.

OLPC is making its pitch with two new videos on YouTube; the rather disturbing Skills video, and the more uplifting Zimi's Story, in which an African girl thanks her unknown benefactor for her laptop.

Thus far the deployments seem to be going well, at least on the recipient side. The blog maintained by people in the field handing out these laptops reported on its most recent deployment in impoverished Nepal, where 135 laptops were given out to students. None were stolen or lost, but one was seriously damaged when the child who owned it cleaned it carefully with soap and water.

Clearly the proper care and maintenance of electronics needs to be added to OLPC training classes. But the quality of the laptops is dubious, if this deployment is any indication. Of the 135, eight had a bad motherboard, five had bad microphones, and four had bad keyboards.