Uruguay was the first country in the world to provide a laptop to every primary school student. Plan Ceibal, Uruguay’s national One Laptop Per Child project, provided an XO laptop to each of the 395,000 children in first through sixth grades. The acronym Ceibal stands for Basic Informatic Educative Connectivity for Online Learning (Conectividad Educativa de Informática Básica para el Aprendizaje en Línea).
One Laptop Per Child, a non-profit based in Massachusetts, strives to provide each child in developing nations with a low-cost, low-power laptop. Through this technology, children become more engaged in their education and more connected to one another. The laptops are designed to be highly power efficient, with the ability to use solar power, generators, wind power or water power.
“This is not simply the handing out of laptops or an education program. It is a program which seeks to reduce the gap between the digital world and the world of knowledge,” Miguel Brechner explained, director of the Technological Laboratory of Uruguay and in charge of Plan Ceibal.
In Uruguay, the Plan Ceibal program has a cost of $260 per child, including maintenance costs, equipment repairs, teacher training and internet connection. The total figure represents less than 5 % of the country’s education budget.
The XO laptops, with Linux operating software, can connect directly to one another, meaning that a single point of access can be shared among a community of XO users.
Education in Uruguay is among the best of the Latin American countries. Uruguay has one of the highest adult literacy rates of all of Latin America. Elementary education is mandatory and free; secondary and technical education are also free. As the first country to implement a One Laptop Per Child program, Uruguay is setting the model for other countries, such as Rwanda, Nicaragua, Paraguay and Peru, which have all adapted a One Laptop Per Child program.
– Haley Sklut