OLPC's XO Laptop  (Source: OLPC)
Over 50,000 laptops will be delivered to elementary students in South Carolina

Exposure at an early age to computers is considered essential by education experts to the high tech future of nations.  While initiatives like the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) initiative have worked hard to deliver laptops to children in Third World nations, many forget that there are millions of children here in the U.S. living in poverty without ready access to computers.

A new joint initiative between the South Carolina Department of Education and the non-profit Palmetto Project appear to be ready to provide students with computer access.

The project launched in 2005 with the goal of putting laptops in the hands of children across the state.  Project leaders cited the OLPC project as inspiration, and now the OLPC leadership has joined in the effort.  The three organization team-up will deliver the first laptops this spring, with 50,000 laptops going to elementary school students.

The students will not receive the laptops for free; they will have to give a trivial donation of typically a dollar or two.  The donation is aimed at illustrating the importance of the project to the children.  The students also have to sign a pledge to “do something great for their state, families, and themselves” with the laptop.

The XO laptops will be presented to students at special ceremonies.

Thus far, South Carolina is the only state to propose such a program.  The program does face its difficulties; going ahead it will rely on future funding (and advocacy efforts).  The fund is currently accepting tax deductible donations.

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