Stanford sophomore brings tech to Jamaican teens

At 14, Anders Jones vacationed in Jamaica and realized students had virtually no access to computers. Today, Teens For Technology is a multimillion nonprofit that threatens to swallow his education.
Written by ZDNET Editors, Contributor

It's amazing what bit of youthful zeal and naivete can do. Stanford student Anders Jones has launched a multi-million dollar nonprofit which supplies public schools on the island nation of Jamaica with computers - and he's only a sophomore, reports the Stanford Daily.

Anders Jones got the idea for Teens for Technology (T4T) when he was just 14 years old. While he was on vacation in Jamaica, he had a conversation with a cab driver who told him that his son's public school had one computer for 850 students. Thus T4T was born.

Since then, Teens for Technology, has supplied approximately 3,000 computers to Jamaican public schools. The group aims for 10,000 total by 2009.

Along with plans to install computer labs in all 750 public schools, the group provides computers to libraries and community centers on the island.

"It was very spur of the moment," Jones said. Thinking of old computers that were going unused in his basement, he decided to start a group with friends from school that would equip one school with a functional computer lab. As he realized the scope of the problem he was trying to address, the organization's goals became larger.

"Being teenagers was helpful — we were naive enough to not psych ourselves out," Jones said.

As the organization grows, Jones's job managing the organization has become more difficult. Political violence and flooding have hindered T4T's progress. Internet access has become "prohibitively expensive," Jones said. Despite the hurdles, T4T goals are to get computers to 100 schools on the island by 2004, two years ahead of schedule.

"Right now there are around 250,000 students using computers in Jamaica," Jones said. "What I am really hoping to see is that 10 years down the line, when kids are graduating and entering the work force, they will have the same level of skills as American kids. People say the digital divide splits one generation from another. I see it as splitting the developed world and the undeveloped world."
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