Clinton Endorses OLPC’s Work In Earthquake Zones

Uruguay’s decision to provide a laptop to every child of primary school age will boost learning in the region, the US secretary of state has said

US secretary of state Hillary Clinton has praised the work done by the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) organisation in Central and South America.

Speaking in San Jose – the capital of Costa Rica – last week, Clinton pointed out the adoption of the OLPC scheme in Uruquay and Panama, which she said should be an example for other governments in the region and around the world.

“I have followed the progress that Uruguay and Panama have made towards spreading the benefits of the digital age through initiatives that distribute laptops to children,” she said. “I was just in Uruguay, meeting with the out-going president and now-president Mujica, and their “one laptop per child” program has given a great boost to learning and access to the wider world.”

Uraguay was the first country to commit to adopting to the so-called $100 laptops and completed plans to roll out a device to every child of primary school age – around 350,000 children –  in October last year. “In Uruguay, we have chosen to stand with the innovators. Our goal is clear: by increasing connectivity and reducing the digital divide, we intend to take our place as one of the hemisphere’s information technology (IT) leaders,” President Tabaré Vázquez wrote in the Americas Quarterly magazine last year.

Secretary Clinton also made reference to the response of Chilean authorities to the earthquake in Haiti before the country was hit by its own quake late last month. “Chile was one of the first to respond to Haiti’s earthquake. The Chilean rescue and recovery workers performed heroic efforts. They worked around the clock to find and rescue survivors. Now it is time to stand with both Chile and Haiti as they recover and rebuild,” she said.

Following the Earthquake in Haiti, OLPC put out a call for anyone who might have bought one of its laptops in the past to donate the machine to needy children in the country.

The OLPC organisation, founded by tech expert Nicholas Negroponte, was set up to develop a low-cost notebook computer to help children in developing countries improve computer and learning skills. According to reports, the organisation is working on a follow-up to its XO laptop which has been adopted by more than 1.4m children in 35 countries. The latest device, known as the X0-3, will be available in 2012 and will cost less than $100.

In January Clinton waded into the controversy surrounding the Google hack attack in China. “The most recent situation involving Google has attracted a great deal of interest,” Clinton said at the time. “And we look to the Chinese authorities to conduct a thorough review of the cyber-intrusions that led Google to make its announcement.”

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