17 November 2005
"One Laptop per Child" Initiative Moving Expression of Global Solidarity, Corporate Citizenship, Secretary-General Says at Tunis Media Event
NEW YORK, 16 November (UN Headquarters) -- Following are UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's remarks at the "One Laptop per Child" media event, held today in Tunis:
Some inventions are ahead of their time.
Others are perfectly of their time.
Still others seem so obvious and natural that once people hear about them, they wonder why it took so long for them to come into being.
It is a rare invention indeed that manages to be all those things at once.
But Nicholas Negroponte, his team at the world-renowned MIT Media Lab, and their partners have given us just such a breakthrough.
The $100 laptop is inspiring in many respects.
It is an impressive technical achievement, able to do almost everything that larger, more expensive computers can do.
It holds the promise of major advances in economic and social development.
But perhaps most important is the true meaning of "one laptop per child". This is not just a matter of giving a laptop to each child, as if bestowing on them some magical charm. The magic lies within -- within each child, within each scientist-, scholar- or just-plain-citizen-in-the-making. This initiative is meant to bring it forth into the light of day.
The laptops are to be financed through domestic resources, donors and possibly other arrangements, at no cost to the recipients themselves. They are to be distributed through education ministries using established textbook channels.
When they start reaching the hands of the world's children, these robust and versatile machines will enable kids to become more active in their own learning. Children will be able to learn by doing, not just through instruction or rote memorization. And they will be able to open a new front in their education: peer-to-peer learning.
Studies and experience have shown repeatedly that kids take to computers easily -- not just in the comfort of warm, well-lit, rich-country schools and living rooms, but also in the slums and remote rural areas of the developing world. We must reach all these kids. Their societies, and the world at large, simply cannot do without their contributions and engagement. As Professor Negroponte and others have said, "The greatest natural resource of any country is its children".
I thank all involved in "One Laptop per Child" for this truly moving expression of global solidarity and corporate citizenship. I also commend the International Telecommunication Union for its role in making this event possible. And I urge all the leaders and stakeholders participating in this World Summit to do their part in ensuring that this initiative is fully incorporated into our efforts to build an information society.
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