One Laptop Per Child NZ launched at IT Professionals conference
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The One Laptop Per Child NZ Charitable Trust will be officially launched in New Zealand at the national conference for the Institute of IT Professionals (IITP) in Tauranga today.
The charitable trust, which aims to bring tech within the reach of thousands of kiwi children, is being headed in New Zealand Barry Vercoe who is Professor Emeritus of Media Arts and Sciences at the MIT in Massachusetts, USA.
The functional, robust and low-cost ‘XO laptops’ are programmed in Maori and English and Vercoe aims to bring 5000 units to New Zealand schools in the next year. He is also co-founder of One Laptop Per Child in Australia, where the programme has greatly improved outcomes in literacy and numeracy in remote communities, prompting the Australian government to invest $12 million in 50,000 more laptops for distribution this year.
In New Zealand, Vercoe is seeking commercial partnerships to help schools fund the open source laptops, which cost NZ $225 each.
In addition to his work with One Laptop Per Child, Vercoe has carved out an international academic career. He is widely credited with pioneering digital audio processing while at Princeton and Yale, before co-founding the MIT Media Lab in Massachusetts. Vercoe began his academic career at Auckland University, graduating with double degrees in music and maths in 1962.
“We’re delighted that Professor Vercoe will be launching One Laptop Per Child New Zealand at the IITP Conference this week,” says IITP CEO Paul Matthews. “Barry is a talented Kiwi with a global reputation and his achievements provide inspiration for the entire New Zealand tech community.”
In addition to Barry Vercoe, there will be more than 40 speakers at the conference, including ICT Minister Amy Adams. The conference theme is ‘Innovating to the Future’ and among the topics covered in this two-day event are the future of education in ICT, political and technological drivers for export success, and how to bring good ideas to market.