[OLPC library] Visioning for OLPC Health Initiatives
josh at paraelmundo.org
Mon Jan 28 22:52:38 EST 2008
I've put up a document under the Health area of the OLPC wiki
entitled "Visioning for OLPC Health Initiatives", the beginning part
of which is appended below. The work in progress is at http://
The Importance of OLPC to Health
The OLPC project is an important and innovative initiative in the
area of education. In large part this is because the project is so
much more than just a new gadget; rather it is grounded in sound
philosophy and theory, and presents a vision for a radical
transformation of access to eduction.
OLPC's approach to education is predicated upon three basic tenets
(from the Learning Vision page):
1. Learning and high-quality education for all is essential to
provide a fair, equitable, economically and socially viable society;
2. Access to mobile laptops on a sufficient scale provide real
benefits for learning and dramatic improvement of education on a
3. So long as computers remain unnecessarily expensive such
potential gains remain a privilege for a select few.
Health initiatives must be similarly grounded, and direct analogues
to these tenets can be drawn from, and adapted for, the health care
Further, health challenges are fundamental barriers to education; one
cannot take part in learning or teaching efforts while struggling to
have basic needs met, while sick or injured.
It is also easy to imagine that XOs, even while distributed under the
auspices of an educational program, will be used by children and
families to tackle whatever problems they may be dealing with in
their lives and communities.
Our health initiatives must be about how we can support health
promotion and public health efforts in resource-poor settings. The
model put forward by OLPC suggests that this can be facilitated with
ready access to these technologies, coupled with technical and social
1. Good health and high-quality health care for all is essential
to provide a fair, equitable, economically and socially viable society.
2. Access to mobile laptops on a sufficient scale can provide
real benefits for health care, and could dramatically improve the
quality and quantity of life for the most underprivileged.
3. Health initiatives must value local knowledge and expertise,
while making free and ready access to an international wealth of
health learning and evidence-based medical knowledge.
4. The initiatives, like the rest of the OLPC project, must
incorporate a collaborative approach into every aspect of their
5. Children, youth and family members in affected communities
must be viewed as potential experts, as self-healers, as self-
directed learners, and OLPC health initiatives must increase direct
involvement in healthy living rather than increase dependencies on
6. OLPC's approach to education in the community should be
mirrored by a "care in the community" approach which seeks to value
community members who are already serving in caring and supportive
roles (community leaders, teachers, health workers, mothers, elders,
etc...), build their capacity, and support them with infrastructural
development and integration with networks of more advanced resources.
7. "OLPC is not, at heart, a technology program." As with
education, local health projects incorporating XOs will need to pay
great attention to infrastructure by addressing long-term concerns
and sustainability. Locally based institutional structures should be
supported rather than forming dependencies on outside agencies.
| Josh Hehner, A-EMCA, PCP
| Director of Community Medicine Programs
| Para el Mundo (PaM) Canada
| josh at paraelmundo.org
| 481 Calle Martn Weiss, 2û Piso
| Mncora, Piura, Per
| +51 (73) 258-250
| 217 St. George St., Unit 44
| Toronto, Canada, M5R 3S7
| +1 (416) 520-9441
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