Niue: The tiny South Pacific nation of Niue Thursday became the first nation in the world to issue laptop computers to all its children, officials said.
Every primary and secondary school student was this week given a rugged “relatively waterproof and breakproof” little green laptop, which has wireless connection to the Internet as part of the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) initiative.
The computers have been specially designed by OLPC, a US-based charity, to help children’s learning and to be cheap as well as difficult to break or damage.
The OLPC programme stems from research and development at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston in the US and has been supported by businesses including News Corporation’s Rupert Murdoch and Google Corp.
The donation of 500 computers to Niue -- which has a total population of less than 1,500 -- is part of an initiative to distribute 5,000 laptops in the Pacific region, OLPC said in a statement.
Barry Vercoe of OLPC Boston said the initiative was to “create educational opportunities for the world’s poorest children”.
The laptops are designed for primary school children aged six to 12 but have also been given to high school students in Niue, where the inhabitants have free Internet access.
If schools install servers, pupils can access school study information and chat to each other in a radius of a kilometre (half a mile), without having to connect to the Internet.
Jimmie Rodgers, the director general of regional development agency, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, said the laptops “have the potential to revolutionise education in ways that are difficult to imagine”.