Just weeks after administering its “Give One, Get One” holiday season drive, the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) foundation has cut its staff by 50 percent to downsize its operational costs. But the news is not entirely grim: OLPC has announced several new technology initiatives.
In a blog posting, founder Nicholas Negroponte explained that as a non profit, OLPC is bearing the brunt of the worldwide economic downturn. It has reduced its team down to 32 people, and the remaining personnel have reduced compensation. With luck the person that produced the foundation’s creepy John Lennon ad wasn’t spared the pink slip.
Negroponte reaffirmed the organization’s commitment to its mission of providing children in developing countries with laptops. To that end it will embark on several new technology initiatives. Those include:
1. Development of Generation 2.0 of the XO laptop
2. A no-cost connectivity program
3. A million digital books
4. Passing on the development of the Sugar Operating System to the community.
5. Creating a $0 laptop to be distributed in the least developed countries.
The foundation will also change its deployment strategy, targeting Afghanistan and Northwestern Pakistan, the Middle East, and sub-Saharan Africa. Further, it is restructuring its Latin America operations into a separate support unit.
500,000 children have already received laptops, according to OLPC. Computer literacy plays a role in economic development, and the foundation’s work should continue. Let’s all hope it rides out the downturn.