Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group, India ‘s youngest and fastest growing business conglomerate, today announced its collaboration with One Laptop per Child (OLPC) Foundation, a global alliance to promote e-learning for children. Under the initiative, Reliance ADA Group’s flagship company Reliance Communications would provide internet connectivity, network backbone, logistic & support to the OLPC initiative in India, using its state-of-the-art network that would cover over 25,000 towns and 6,00,000 Indian villages by March 2008.
“Children are the future of the nation and shaping the future of millions of school children through new age learning systems is of prime importance in today’s digital era. The IT and ITES revolution over the last decade has brought India at the forefront of leading emerging economies; the next leap forward necessitates that the existing digital divide between urban and rural India is bridged at the earliest” , said Mrs. Tina Anil Ambani, while announcing the landmark collaboration, according to a spokesman of the company.
“The ethos of Reliance Group and the vision of OLPC Project, to enable 150 million school children across the world, gel perfectly. We are glad to be in a unique position to be a part of this initiative to provide children in India with new opportunities to explore experiment and express” , she added.
Mrs. Tina Anil Ambani also announced the launch of OLPC’s first Pilot in India under which school children in a tribal village at Khairat (near Karjat, Maharashtra) have been provided with OLPC XO laptops and teacher training for incorporating the new way of imparting education. Reliance Communications is providing the connectivity to these internet learning devices. OLPC has already provided laptops to 5 million schoolchildren across the world and aims to cover 150 million schoolchildren by 2008. Leading Global Corporate like AMD, Google, News Corp, Nortel, eBay, Citigroup, Seagate, and Adobe etc. have partnered in setting up the OLPC Foundation, backed by United Nations.
“Reliance Communications’ endeavors to provide robust and reliable telecommunications and information services across the country including remotest locations yet uncovered by any other telecom network. Our Data Network would enable information access to countless schools and children across the 25,000 towns and 6, 00,000 villages, said Sumit Chowdhury, CIO, RCOM. “It is indeed a pleasure to collaborate with OLPC Foundation and enabling millions of school children in rural India to access their educational modules in local language, collaborate with each other, connect to the internet and play games as well to make learning fun”, he added.
A project of this kind will help address critical educational issues faced by schools in such remote and rural places of the country. RCOM and OLPC will be working with Government agencies, NGOs, Content developers, translators, teaching community and project managers to create successful ecosystems.
“Most of the children in Khairat School have never seen a computer before each child got an OLPC laptop. After a couple of weeks with them, it was impressive to see the easiness and receptiveness of children to have fun while learning on the laptops, as well as the teacher’s adaptability and creativity to work the school curriculum, implementing the OLPC educational approach and furthering the learning experiences of children through the laptop’s software activities”, said Carla Gomez Monroy, OLPC Learning Consultant.
Commenting on this collaboration Dr. Nicholas Negroponte, a Former Director of the MIT Media Lab , (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and Founder of OLPC Foundation added,
“Children are the world’s most precious natural resource. India has more child population than any other country and will benefit greatly from a creative society of them. The way to harness this energy is to leverage children themselves, inviting them to more actively participate in the own education, to learn learning itself and to keep the natural passion provided by childhood’s curiosity and play. India needs to take a role of world leadership in the concept of one laptop per child, even if it is ahead of its time and seemingly daunting. OLPC is proudly partnering with Reliance to do just that.”
“The program has a lot of synergies with AMDs 50×15 initiative, including its emphasis on partnering with industry leaders, governments and non-profits to bridge the digital divide, and empower people. The benefits of the technology will be nowhere as visible as in a country like ours, where the solution to deliver technology to the far corners depends on the various challenges like power, affordability and simplicity,” s aid Alok Ohrie, Managing Director, AMD India. “By taking a complete ecosystem approach, AMD and its partners, such as the current relationship with Reliance Communications, can create self-sustaining, commercially viable and localized business models that can provide citizens with affordable Internet access and computing capabilities,” he added.
Reliance Communications is rated among the Asia ‘s 5 Topmost Valuable Telecom Companies is India’s foremost truly integrated telecommunications service provider. The company with a customer base of over 38 million, including over 1.2 million individual overseas retail customers, ranks among the Top 10 Asian Telecom companies. Reliance Communications corporate clientele includes 600 Indian and 250 multinational corporations, and over 200 global carriers.
The company has established a pan-India, next generation, integrated (wireless and wire line), convergent (voice, data and video) digital network that is capable of supporting best-of-class services spanning the entire Infocomm value chain, covering over 10,000 towns and 3,00,000 villages. Reliance Communications owns and operates World’s largest next generation IP enabled connectivity infrastructure, comprising over 165,000 kilometers of fiber optic cable systems in India, USA , Europe , Middle East and the Asia Pacific region. The company’s subsidiary, FLAG Telecom owns World’s largest private undersea cable system, spanning 65,000 kilometers connects the top business centers in developed and emerging markets across 6 continents.