ByÂ Emmanuel Edukugho
The first batch of laptops specifically designed for pupils in the world has arrived in Nigeria.
Under a scheme known as one-laptop-per-child (OLPC), the vision of an American, Nicholas Negroponte, who sponsored the production of the laptops to be distributed free to primary school children in developed and developing countries to enhance learning, the first beneficiaries are pupils of Kingdom Heritage Model School, Canaanland, Ota, Ogun State.
The no fewer than 100 laptops were commissioned and dedicated at a brief ceremony in the Youth Chapel, Covenant University, Ota, yesterday.
Nigeria is the first country in the West African sub-region to receive the children laptops, which so far are for private schools since the Federal Government cancelled the initiative that would have made public primary schools benefit from the project.
Two representatives of the US-based OLPC, founded by Negroponte, brought the laptops and presented them to the school.
Nigerian-born Miss Ada Inyama and Mr. Sam Ade Jacobs made the presentation at the ceremony attended by pupils, teachers and headteacher of Living Faith Church Worldwide-owned Kingdom Heritage Model School.
Inyama said the laptops are free under a formal arrangement after an institution should have been selected.
According to her, it will cost $200 (N33,000) per unit for parents who may want to buy to defray freight charges and custom dues demanded by the Nigerian government, even when the custom officials were told the items were for school children but still declined to waive payment.
â€œWith one laptop per child, we expect to have full saturation for all the pupils. It can be embraced at national level, like in Rwanda, Uruguay and some other countries where the governments are paying. In Nigeria, itâ€™s a challenge. Somebody has to pay for it.â€
She said that with all the activities that the laptop can perform and the softwares, internet connectivity, servers, it is very cheap. â€œBy 2010, the cost may come down to $75.â€
Pastor Williams, Chairman of the Local School Board who commissioned and dedicated the laptops to the excitement of the children in primary four who are the first beneficiaries, described the presentation as â€œa great blessing from God.â€
He said that the wisdom of dedication is keeping in Godâ€™s hands, what we (people) cannot keep.
â€œGod packaged knowledge in these little things to aid learning,â€ he said, â€œchildren, these are your laptops. They are beautiful. Praise the Lord.â€
The delighted and happy school children were asked to come out to have handshake with Ada Inyama and Sam Jacob before taking possession of the laptops.
â€œThank you sir and ma,â€ the children chorused.
Head Teacher, Kingdom Heritage Model School, Deacon Williams Olurinde, told Vanguard after the brief unique ceremony, that he felt happy and honoured, as only three schools out of several others in the country were picked â€” in Minna, Ibadan and Lagos.
He promised that the laptops will be put to use very well, and properly kept as parents will sign undertaking to ensure safe keeping when they are taken home for assignments.