PRESS RELEASEEast African Community Secretariat, Arusha, Tanzania; 28 April, 2010: The East African Community today partnered with the One Laptop per Child (OLPC), a nonprofit organisation whose mission is to help provide every child in the world access to a modern education.
According to the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the EAC and OLPC in Kampala, Uganda, the two organisations agreed to work together to leverage the advantages of the laptops in transforming primary school education and to promote strategies for better access to laptops and connectivity– especially for the region’s underprivileged children.
Speaking at the ceremony to announce the partnership, Amb. Juma Mwapachu, Secretary General of the East Africa Community, said, “If you want to build a knowledge economy, you must have a computer literate population, starting from primary, secondary school children and all the way to university....This is a very ambitious project for which we will have to partner with various people and institutions to mobilise and find the resources required to meet our objectives by 2015.”
Mr. Matt Keller, the vice president of OLPC who represented Mr. Nicholas Negroponte, founder and chairman of One Laptop per Child said, "The OLPC’s partnership with the East Africa Community represents another significant step toward a world in which every child has access to a world-class education, to the world's body of knowledge, and to each other”.
“The East African Community is dedicating itself not simply to one laptop per child, but to a world in which the children become agents of change – making things, teaching each other and their families and affecting the social development of their community,” he added.
The Rt. Hon Abdirahim Abdi, Speaker, East African Legislative Assembly described the signing of the MoU as a success for the regional legislature, which has been at the forefront in pushing for the adoption of the Rwanda one-laptop-per-child project as an EAC-wide initiative. He also spoke of the need “to get the Partner States involved in the [OLPC] process”.
Hon. Dr. Diodorus Kamala, the Chairperson of the EAC Council Ministers and Tanzania’s Minister for East African Cooperation said the transformation of the world into a global village means the region must adopt information technology or risk being left out.
He said the MoU would provide the impetus for Partner States to commit resources to the EAC-OLPC venture. “Signing of this MoU will enable the Partner States to start allocating their funds towards this noble initiative,” Hon. Dr. Kamala said, before giving his assurance that the Council of Ministers would urge Partners States to allocate more funds towards education so that the next generation is technology compliant.
Rt. Hon. Eriya Katega, Uganda’s First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for EAC Affairs informed the meeting that Uganda already had an ICT policy and that he would contact the relevant ministries to integrate the initiative within the existing national structures.
One Laptop per Child (OLPC) is a nonprofit organisation created by Nicholas Negroponte and partners from the MIT Media Lab (USA) to design, manufacture and distribute laptop computers that are inexpensive enough to provide every child in the world access to knowledge and modern forms of education.
Department of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs