Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Helping the poor developmentally: Denmark compared with Australia

It seems that Denmark has a government, a professional IT society and an aid organisations which work together and display some commitment to using technology innovatively to help the poorest people on this earth. To help the poor to develop, not just to rescue them from starvation or disease:
Some 99 percent of children growing up in developing countries leave school without ever having touched a computer.

But the organisers behind the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) programme and Denmark’s aid organisation, Danida, hope to change that with the durable, inexpensive XO Computer ...

The computer’s innovative construction earned it accolades and a top prize at the Index: Awards handed out in Copenhagen last month to recognise groundbreaking ‘designs to improve life’. It also won the attention of Ulla Tørnæs, the development co-ordination minister

The organisation will conduct a nationwide campaign among private companies and foundations to raise money for purchasing the computer which will then be part of aid organisation Danida’s supplies to foreign countries.

Five countries are already on the receiving end of the project, and Danida hopes to begin a pilot project with the XO Computer in Nepal in April next year. In addition, Bhutan, Nicaragua, Bolivia and Benin have signed on for shipments.

The Danish IT Society, the country’s largest trade organisation for IT professionals, indicated the project will be part of its 50th anniversary celebration which includes putting focus on the Third World.

Tony Franke, the managing director of the Danish IT Society, hopes the initiative can level the playing field between rich and poor countries in the Digital Age.

‘The computer should not just be seen as a piece of technology. It’s an educational project which first and foremost is intended for children, but at the same time will involve the whole family who through their children will gain familiarity with the digital world.’

Franke has already encountered great enthusiasm from potential contributors, and he expected significant support for the project.

‘The prospects are spreading like rings in the water. It begins as an educational project but in reality it’s a revolution for people that are born and grow up in a poor village but suddenly gain contact with the rest of the world,’ Franke said.
- extracts from 'The Copenhagen Post'
I wonder how we could get this sort of thing happening in Australia? Would our government, our aid organisations and our IT societies pick up on this idea and implement it here. How come it is possible in Denmark but seems like a fantasy to think like this in Australia?

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