I missed the thrilling 0-0 tie in Uruguay’s World Cup opener against France today, but I did learn this week that Uruguay is the only country with 1:1 computing in schools.

With the highest literacy rates in Latin America, Uruguay was frequently held up as the Latin success story yesterday at the Americas Society meeting on public-private partnerships.

Uruguay has a little more than twice the population of Maine. I guess Vazquez figured that if Maine could do it, so could Uruguay. Here’s the Wikipedia mini-history:

Uruguay, under the initiative of President Tabare Vazquez approved and implemented the program called “Ceibal” (One laptop per child program) which is currently running successfully, providing all Primary School children with their own “ceibalita”; as the laptops are affectionately called. In 2010, with the new government of Jose Cordano Mujica (El Pepe), the program will continue, and is planned to be extended to cover all secondary children as well.

This BBC story about roll out from October 2009:

Over the last two years 362,000 pupils and 18,000 teachers have been involved in the scheme. The “Plan Ceibal” (Education Connect) project has allowed many families access to the world of computers and the internet for the first time. Uruguay is part of the One Laptop Per Child scheme, an organisation set up by internet pioneer Nicholas Negroponte. His original vision was to provide laptops at $100 (£61) but they proved more expensive.

The Uruguay programme has cost the state $260 (£159) per child, including maintenance costs.

And, here’s a short case study on the NComputing solution.

Latin America is making progress on universal primary but still has a big secondary gap with limited access to high quality education that connects young people to college and careers. Blended solutions like those being developed in Uruguay hold promise for Latin America—and the world.

If El Pepe is on the bus, why isn’t your governor?

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Tom Vander Ark
Tom Vander Ark is author of Smart Parents, Smart Cities and Getting Smart. He is co-founder of Getting Smart and Learn Capital and serves on the boards of 4.0 Schools, eduInnovation, Digital Learning Institute, Imagination Foundation, Charter Board Partners and Bloomboard. Follow Tom on Twitter, @tvanderark.

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