The One Laptop Per Child NZ Charitable Trust was officially launched in New Zealand at the Institute of IT Professionals (IITP) national conference yesterday.
The trust, which aims to bring technology within the reach of thousands of Kiwi children, will bring 5000 functional, robust and low-cost XO laptops that are programmed in both Maori and English to New Zealand schools in the next year.
It is now seeking commercial partnerships to help schools fund the open source laptops, which cost NZ $225 each.
One Laptop Per Child NZ is being headed by Barry Vercoe, professor emeritus of media, arts and sciences at MIT. 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 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.
Paul Matthews, IITP CEO, says Vercoe is a talented Kiwi with a global reputation and his achievements provide inspiration for the entire New Zealand tech community.