April 30, 2010

UN Shipping 200,000 Laptops To Gaza Refugees

The United Nations has announced plans to distribute more than 200,000 laptops to school-aged children living in the Gaza Strip, a UN spokesperson said on Thursday.

Adnan Abu Hasna, a member of the UN's Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), also noted that the organization hoped to deliver a total of 500,000 energy-efficient XO computers to refugees through the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) program before 2013.

"The campaign is beginning today in refugee schools in Rafah, with the distribution of 2,200 laptops as part of a plan to distribute 200,000 laptops to our students in the Gaza Strip," he told Adel Zaanoun of AFP on Thursday, adding that the plan would also create wireless Internet connections between teachers and students "so that the students can continue their studies during crises."

According to Zaanoun, children in the southern Gaza town "beamed as they received the green and white laptops, which are designed to be durable and energy efficient"¦ Many said they looked forward to using the computers to chat with friends and play computer games."

"The XO laptop has a special place in children's education in regions that are disrupted by ongoing violence," Nicholas Negroponte, founder of OLPC, told BBC News on Thursday. "With the XO the children can continue to stay connected and gain the skills and knowledge required to participate fully and thrive in the 21st century - even when getting to school is impossible."

OLPC's mission, according to the group's official website, 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. When children have access to this type of tool they get engaged in their own education. They learn, share, create, and collaborate. They become connected to each other, to the world and to a brighter future."


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