Uruguay is home to the highest literacy rate in South America, hovering around 98.5% from recent reports, and the country is making a bold step towards solidifying its education system and improving the technological literacy of its citizens by giving away laptops to schoolchildren.
Stemming from Nicholas Negroponte’s non-profit organization appropriately named One Laptop Per Child, the Uruguayan government has recognized the transition from pen-and-paper learning methods to that of the technological form and has implemented and succeeded at distributing one laptop to each student in the country. The program is known as Ceibal (Conectividad Educativa de Informática Básica para el Aprendizaje en Línea).
In 2007, the initial project was approved by President Tabaré Vázquez, implemented as a pilot strategy and was soon augmented into a full-scale program. Since its inception, over 350,000 students and 16,000 teachers have received their own personal portable Quanta XO-1, a basic laptop-style computer.
The principal objective of the OLPC is twofold: to prepare students adequately for secondary school and a smooth transition into the workforce, and to bridge the gap between varying economic situations through the rural and metropolitan areas. Over half of the country’s population is contained within the capital of Montevideo, and many of the children who received these laptops do not have a computer at home.
The cost of the computers, implementing the technology, fiber optics, maintenance and training is an average of approximately $260 per pupil, or about 5% of the country’s education budget. It’s a genius investment in Uruguay’s bright future.