Mongolia signs up for OLPC

President Nambaryn Enkhbayar of Mongolia announced his commitment to provide every child in his nation with a connected laptop by the end of 2010. As a first step toward making this a reality Professor Nicholas Negroponte, founding chairman of the non-profit association, One Laptop per Child (OLPC), and Mr. Nyamaa Enkhbold, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mongolia, agreed to launch the OLPC initiative in Mongolia as early as January 2008 and signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) thereof in the presence of President Enkhbayar.

In January, Mongolia and OLPC plan to launch a pilot project providing 20,000 units of the acclaimed XO laptops, to children ages 6 to 12 in the most remote parts of the country, as well as in the capital Ulaanbaatar. The XO laptop was specifically developed with its target users in mind, it is rugged, with an adaptive display, strong telecommunication capabilities, and sufficiently low powered that it can be hand cranked. So innovative, the New York Times described it as “absolutely amazing.”

This initiative will address the particularly challenging aspects of low density and nomadic populations, for whom Internet access and digital learning have been nearly impossible. Primarily an education project, not a laptop project, OLPC is aimed at improving children’s skills by providing them a means to learning (and playing) inside and outside of school.

Commenting on the OLPC initiative, Mongolian President Nambaryn Enkhbayar said, “We are delighted to be working with One Laptop per Child to enable children’s access to education throughout Mongolia. We believe that providing children with such an innovative tool for learning and self-expression will ultimately have a significant impact on the future progress of the country.”

Nicholas Negroponte, founder of One Laptop per Child, said, “Designed for harsh remote and rural environments, the XO laptop is perfectly suited to the dispersed and nomadic population of Mongolia. We look forward to working with Mongolia as the country takes important steps to empower future generations through education.”

The realization of this project in Mongolia comes through the ongoing support of Mr. John L. Thornton, and builds upon the work of two MIT students, Enkhmunkh Zurgaanjin and Jan Jungclaus, who spent the summer of 2007 in Mongolia promoting the concept and spreading the word.

Beginning on the 12th of November OLPC will launch a two-week Give 1 Get 1 program in the United States and Canada. During this time individuals can buy two XO’s for a total of $399 (Rs 16,000), one for themselves and the other to be donated to a child in a country like Mongolia.

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