In Mexico, some kids get free laptops

Posted by Tim Johnson on October 31, 2013 

President Enrique Pena Nieto, left, admires a free laptop computer given to a student in Tabasco state on Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013. Courtesy Mexican President's Office.

TIM JOHNSON

Following in the footsteps of many other nations around the globe, Mexico is giving simple free laptop computers to some elementary school students.

President Enrique Pena Nieto yesterday traveled to Tabasco state to inaugurate the program, which in its first phase will see some 240,000 kids in Tabasco, Colima and Sonora states get the computers.

“It is a computer that will accompany you in fifth and sixth grades, and you can take it home, use it all the time, at home, at school, and when you complete your primary education, it is another tool to accompany you in your training,” Pena Nieto told students in Tabasco.

Mexico falls fairly low in rankings of computer usage and internet connection.

Education Secretary Emilio Chuayffet said only three out of every 10 Mexican families have a computer at home, and only one out of ever four students have home access to the internet.

It isn’t clear to me how soon the program would be expanded. The website explaining the program, micompu.mx, was flooded with users this morning and wouldn’t open.

But Mexico is far from the first nation or region to give students free laptops. A quick look around the internet shows that Ghana, Malaysia, Macedonia, Nicaragua and Rajasthan state in India all have free laptop programs in place or on tap.

So kids, get hacking!

That’s certainly what occurred in Los Angeles last month when school officials began handing students Apple iPads. It took 300 students at one high school exactly one week to hack through security on the iPads so they could use the tablets at home and surf the web. Students there began tweeting, going on Facebook and downloading music.

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