The Masibambane Junior Primary School in Orange Farm became the first in South Africa to be the beneficiaries of the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project, which aims to provide each child with a rugged, low-cost, low-power, connected laptop.

The school received 250 OLPC XO 7.5 inch screen tablets donated in partnership with the MoneyGram Foundation to help support and supplement the school’s up and running ICT curriculum. The OLPC XO tablets were developed specially for the OLPC project by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and come pre-installed with elearning software.

“The fact that Masibambane itself developed an overarching ICT development plan for learners and teachers is a key reason why we were attracted to this particular school,” said Mark Kaplan, executive chairman of OLPC South Africa Foundation.

“As of now, only a little over 6 000 of South Africa’s more than 25 000 schools are ICT-enabled. If we are to conquer South Africa’s growing digital divide, it is vital that more South African schools and their surrounding communities develop similar ICT educational plans and partner with sponsors like the MoneyGram Foundation and OPLC to bring that plan into action,” Kaplan added.

The tablets were handed over to the school in an official ceremony this week, with representatives from the MoneyGram Foundation, OLPC, the Department of Basic education and the Orange Farm Community.

OLPC has been around since 2005, but while it may be better late than never for South Africa to get on board, don’t expect many more announcements like this in the future. Back in March, OLPC closed its hardware development offices and stated that in future it would concentrate on developing educational software for other manufacturers’ devices. This may be its last gasp as a hardware provider.

[Source – South African Government News Agency, Image – OLPC]