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Friday, November 30, 2007

About OLPC

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The One Laptop Per Child Association, Inc. (OLPC) is a U.S. non-profit organization set up to oversee the creation of an affordable educational device for use in the developing world. Its mission is "To create educational opportunities for the world's poorest children by providing each child with a rugged, low-cost, low-power, connected laptop with content and software designed for collaborative, joyful, self-empowered learning."[1] Its current focus is on the development, construction and deployment of the XO-1 laptop.

The organization is led by chairman Nicholas Negroponte, and Charles Kane, President and Chief Operating Officer. OLPC is a 501(c)(3) organization registered in Delaware, USA[2] and is funded by member organizations, including AMD, Brightstar Corporation, eBay, Google, Marvell, News Corporation, SES, Nortel Networks, and Red Hat.[3][4] Each company has donated two million dollars.

OLPC has generated a great deal of interest in the Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D), in education and one to one computing fields of research.

 The OLPC Mission:
To create educational opportunities for the world's poorest children by providing each child with a rugged, low-cost, low-power, connected laptop with content and software designed for collaborative, joyful, self-empowered learning.
OLPC Mission Statement, [1][5]
It's an education project, not a laptop project.
The goal of the foundation is to provide children around the world with new opportunities to explore, experiment, and express themselves. To that end, OLPC is designing a laptop, educational software, manufacturing base, and distribution system to provide children outside of the first-world with otherwise unavailable technological learning opportunities.

Core Principles
OLPC lists five core principles:[7]
  1. Child ownership
  2. Low ages.

    -Both hardware and software are designed for elementary school children ages 6–12.

  3. Saturation

  4. Connection

  5. Free and open source software

Participating Countries
Some of the participating countries in the XO laptop program, besides São Tomé, include:

The Laptop

The XO-1, previously known as the "$100 Laptop" or "Children's Machine", is an inexpensive laptop computer designed to be distributed to children in developing countries around the world,[24] to provide them with access to knowledge, and opportunities to "explore, experiment and express themselves" (constructionist learning).[25] The laptop is manufactured by the Taiwanese computer company Quanta Computer.

The rugged, low-power computers use flash memory instead of a hard drive, run a Fedora-based operating system and use the Sugar user interface.[26] Mobile ad-hoc networking based on the 802.11s wireless mesh network protocol allows students to collaborate on activities and to share Internet access from one connection. The wireless networking has much greater range than typical consumer laptops.

The XO-1 has also been designed to be lower cost and much longer lived than typical laptops.
The laptops include an anti-theft system which can, optionally, require each laptop to periodically make contact with a server to renew its cryptographic lease token. If the cryptographic lease expires before the server is contacted, the laptop will be locked until a new token is provided. The contact may be to a country specific server over a network or to a local, school-level server that has been manually loaded with cryptographic "lease" tokens that enable a laptop to run for days or even months between contacts. Cryptographic lease tokens can be supplied on a USB flash drive for un-networked schools.[27] The mass production laptops are also tivoized, disallowing installation of additional software or replacement of the operating system. Users, interested in development, need to obtain the unlocking key separately (most of developer laptops for Western users already come unlocked). It is claimed that locking prevents unintentional bricking and is part of the anti - theft system[28].

Microsoft is developing a modified version of Windows XP and announced in May 2008 that Windows XP will be available for an additional cost of 10 dollars per laptop.[29]

OLPC is currently working on an updated XO (dubbed XO-1.5) to take advantage of the latest component technologies. The XO-1.5 will include a new VIA C7-M processor and a new chipset providing a 3D graphics engine and an HD video decoder. The RAM memory will be increased to 1 GB and built-in storage to 4 GB, with an option for 8 GB. The network wireless interface will be replaced by one with half the power dissipation. The XO 1.5 will keep the existing display, although OLPC is working to improve its brightness and efficiency. Early prototype versions of the hardware were available as of June 2009, with several hundred prototypes for software development and testing available as of September 2009, and provided for free through a developer's program.[30]

OLPC also has plans for a second generation XO.[31][32] Key goals for the XO-2 include cost reduction, lower power consumption, smaller footprint and enhanced e-book experience. The XO-2 is targeted for 2011 at the cost of $75. It will consist of two multitouch-sensitive displays, and can be used as a normal laptop (having one of the screens as a keyboard), as an e-book (each screen displaying one page) or in a tablet mode (when flat, the handbook provides a surface for drawing, writing, and games). See also OLPC XO-2 for more info.

    To read more about the specifics of the XO laptop, visit


    Want to make a donation, but not online?

    Know of a great opportunity we should take advantage of?

    Have other suggestions or questions?

    Send them in to Beth, a volunteer from the USA and São João's OLPC class coordinator and teacher, at

    How You Can Help

    STEP UP OLPC honors giving both large and small. Here are some ideas of how you or 
    your organization can make a difference:

    NEW: Buy a STEP UP OLPC T-Shirt for only $20 USD + S&H! All proceeds benefit our program directly. Click here to order one now!


    • $5 will buy a mini mouse for improved computer use
    • $30 will buy a solar panel that can power the XO laptop
    • $50 will purchase a battery that can power our wifi when there's no energy at school
    • $150 will pay the salary of a teacher for our one-month summer program
    • $200 will purchase a laptop computer to be used by FIVE children over FIVE years
    • $20,000 will purchase 100 laptops for a total of 500 students
    • $100,000 will purchase enough computers for all sixth grade students in São João for 5 years

    Sponsor the purchase of 100 or more OLPC (XO) laptop computers. Each computer costs about $235 and will last approximately five years. Due to OLPC's production constraints, computers must be purchased in quantities of 100+ and shipped directly to the school via DHL. 100 computers will directly benefit 500 individual children over the computer's lifespan. As the computers are taken home, they will also benefit families and neighbors, or approximately 5,000 São Tomé residents.

    Make a general donation to STEP UP OLPC. Donations of all sizes are accepted, and donations sent by mail are tax-deductible. They help to purchase supplies like mini mice and USB drives for the computers, paper to make lesson plans and certificates for the students, and salaries for the teachers. Donations also fund our annual summer program.

    Host a fundraising event. Use our materials to host your own fundraising event at your workplace, church, community center or other location. All you need is a location and a little music. We'll provide the materials. Talk to friends and family about giving or ask a local restaurant or bar to donate a percentage of its proceeds one night to STEP UP OLPC.

    Donate a used XO laptop: If you have an XO laptop of your own and don't use it, please consider sending it to STEP UP OLPC. Email Beth at for shipping information.

    Help translate: If you are fluent in Portuguese and English, please consider helping us translate our documentation to Portuguese. One Laptop per Child is in dire need of Portuguese translation and every translation done for them directly benefits us.

    Where to send financial contributions: Funding and donations for STEP UP OLPC can be sent to our financial advisors at Kelley & Drye: Eric McClafferty / Kelley and Drye / 3050 K St. NW, #400 / Washington, DC 20007. Please make checks out to STEP UP with “OLPC” in the memo line.

    Please email me at with questions and for more information about any of the items mentioned above.

      About São Tomé, São João and STeP UP

      The São João school is a bustling middle school in São Tomé, the capital of São Tomé and Príncipe, which is a small Portuguese-speaking island just off the coast of Gabon, on the west coast of the African continent (see map above, courtesy of Its population is roughly 160,000 people.

      A once unoccupied territory that received its entire population through functioning as a Portuguese pit stop for slaves en route to the Americas, São Tomé faces a rough history. The country became an independent nation from Portugal in 1975, making it still extremely young. For this reason, the island retains much of its Portuguese roots- from architecture, to language, to gastronomy. Yet it is a desperately poor country, suffering regularly from lack of electricity, untreated water, and a high mortality rate.

      STeP UP (São Tomé and Príncipe Union for Promotion) is a non-government organization based in the city of São Tomé that works to further the island's development and build community. Among many things, it sponsors computer classes on its first floor, teaches English to the island's disabled community, and masterminds other grassroots initiatives. Headed by Ned Seligman, an American living on the island for the past 15 years, STeP UP was approached by OLPC to help identify an institution worthy of receiving the XO laptops. STeP UP selected the São João school and still regularly coordinates their use.

      The São João school houses a number of the area's fifth and sixth grade students. In the 2009-2010 academic year, there are 1229 students total in the school- 617 sixth graders and 612 fifth graders.

      Because of the severe lack of space at São João, the school day is divided in half. Fifth graders arrive at 7am and leave at about 12pm. Sixth graders arrive at 12:30pm and leave at about 5:30pm. Both the school facility and its teachers are heavily overworked everyday.

      Of the 617 sixth grade students, 100 of them have been selected from various classes to receive OLPC's XO laptops. They gather every Saturday morning from 9am-12pm to learn how to use the computers and to participate in various projects. They take them home everyday and use them regularly outside of the classroom. Besides various volunteers from the USA and São Tomé, the school also depends on the leadership of Director José António, computer professor Miguel da Boa Esperança, and about four other sixth grade teachers that give classes and promote the use of the XO laptops among their students.

      For more information about São Tomé and Príncipe, visit the Wikipedia site, the official São Tomé government website (in Portuguese only), and an English-speaking site about São Tomé travel.

      About OLPC at Sao Joao

      STEP UP OLPC: One [Academic] Year of Success!

      STEP UP OLPC is proud to announce the completion of our very first successful school year incorporating our laptop program!! Many thanks to members of STEP UP, the University of Illinois, OLPC, the São João School and other supporters and friends. We couldn't do it without every single one of you!!

      In the summer of 2009, One Laptop Per Child (OLPC), in partnership with students at the University of Illinois, provided the São João secondary school on the island of São Tomé and Príncipe with 100 small laptop computers (called “XO laptops”) for use by its 6th grade students in conjunction with the NGO, STeP UP (São Tomé and Príncipe Union for Promotion) and an OLPCorps composed of UIllinois students. These computers are ultra-durable, energy efficient laptops that allow students to learn word processing, mathematics, photography and video, computer programming, research science, public health initiatives and other important lessons from their very own internet-enabled computers.

      Out of a number of disadvantaged countries in the world, São Tomé, despite its small size, broke through a competitive application program and was selected by OLPC to be one of the first recipients of these XO laptop computers. Once São Tomé was selected, the São João school was chosen as the country's most deserving school. These computers were donated at no cost to the school, in hopes to nurture the ability of students to learn, discover and create through technology.

      With the help of numerous national and international volunteers, the program is already off to a brilliant start. Students come to class so eager to learn that other children regularly attempt to attend class on Saturday who are not even students. These children lie about owning computers in hopes that they will be able to participate in the learning experience. After only one class session, the students could already type and format word processing documents, take pictures and videos and browse the Internet. These are students that have never used computers before in their lives; students that do not have reliable sources of energy on a daily basis. Yet they are learning to use the computers as tools to read and write, to record important information and to edit and improve work they have already done. They are interviewing other students, giving presentations, teaching each other various programs and activities, recording their student interviews and writing summaries using good Portuguese, and then taking these computers home and reaching out to their families and communities, feeding their curiosity, expanding their observation skills, recording what they find, troubleshooting and problem solving, and, through all of this, building a stronger, more powerful and more connected community.

      The computers are taken home regularly so that students can expand their learning both in and outside of the classroom. On Saturday mornings, the students gather for three hours for a special computer science class. It is our hope that this class will expand to weekdays as well, and be incorporated into classes of other subjects, though to do this it will be necessary for all 600 students in the 6th grade class to have access to the computers. That's 500% more computers than we currently have.

      To make the most of our current resources, we hosted a series of summer classes in July of 2010 in partnership with the non-profit organization, Waveplace. Here, students were be able to use their computers on a daily basis while working with the Etoys learning environment. With only simple financial needs such as teacher payment, maintenance fees and extra costs such as spare parts and summer snacks, the summer program offered a way to expand our impact at only a fraction of the cost.

      However, the lack of computers is still a problem at São João. With few computers to spare, we are in extreme need of extra screens, keyboards and other parts. In direct contrast to the decline of computer availability, the need for computers is only increasing. The XO laptops, like all computers, have a limited life, and will one day cease to function. We are also still in severe lack of computers to sufficiently equip the rest of the 6th grade. Ideally, computer availability among all students will allow teachers to use the computers as tools to use with daily lesson plans in other subjects, which was OLPC's original intention.

      For this reason, STeP UP's long-term goal is to purchase 500 new computers and to develop a healthy program among students and teachers at São João.

      If you would like to help, please donate on the left-hand side of this screen, or visit the How You Can Help page.

      Read about our media and press exposure here. You can also read our recent press release here.


      Please click the button below to donate to STEP UP OLPC to support the São João school's computer program in São Tomé:

      Donate $200 and you will be paying for a computer for at least FIVE very special children at São João (as estimated computer life is five years). Thanks so much!

      Want your donation to be tax-deductible? Send a check to STeP UP with OLPC in the memo. Then mail it to:

      Eric McClafferty
      Kelley and Drye
      3050 S St. NW, #400
      Washington, DC 20007