Embracing technology in less developed nations

The mission of the One Laptop per Child initiative begins:


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"Most of the nearly two–billion children in the developing world are inadequately educated, or receive no education at all. One in three does not complete the fifth grade.

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The individual and societal consequences of this chronic global crisis are profound. Children are consigned to poverty and isolation—just like their parents—never knowing what the light of learning could mean in their lives. At the same time, their governments struggle to compete in a rapidly evolving, global information economy, hobbled by a vast and increasingly urban underclass that cannot support itself, much less contribute to the commonweal, because it lacks the tools to do so."

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I have been talking with collegues lately about the future of education and technologies that will fuel change. The question is usually how will advances in technology such the Nokia N800, a Wi-Fi Internet tablet which includes VoIP support and WiMax which enables long range wireless broadband access change society in less developed nations? Will these tools along with initiatives like the One Laptop per Child change education in less developed nations?

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I read a lot of work by naysayers who claim that less developed nations simply do not have the capacity to embrace such technologies. I agree if we restrict our discussion to a physically tangible ICT environment...but wireless technologies change the game. For starters, simply look at how many developing nations now have more cell phones than landline telephones. When I was recently in Cambodia I had cell phone access everywhere! Even in rural areas 6 hours away from any major town I always had good reception and never had a dropped call. There is promise if planners and policymakers think outside of the box.

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