Sunday, October 28, 2007

Continuing with the $100 laptop discussion

I recently read the following:

"The so-called $100 laptops for children may make it to India after all.

Last year,India rebuffed One Laptop Per Child, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology spinoff that created rugged little computers for kids in the developing world.

India's education minister was quoted calling the project "pedagogically suspect," apparently because it demands children be allowed to take the laptops home to maximize exploration.

Being shut out of the world's second-most populous country seemed a defeat for One Laptop Per Child, which has had a tougher sell than it expected. Mass production of its roughly $190 laptops is expected to begin soon, but with fewer than the several million computers originally envisioned.

Even after hearing the minister's comments, One Laptop Per Child kept talking to Indian officials, companies and non-governmental agencies. And a pilot test began recently in which 22 children in first through fourth grades in a rural, one-room school in the Indian state of Maharashtra are using the computers.

Carla Gomez-Monroy, the education consultant who launched the test, said One Laptop Per Child has learned that working with local partners will be crucial in India, where dozens of languages are spoken.

It also helps that One Laptop Per Child has dropped its initial goal of getting each participating government to buy at least 1 million computers. Now, far smaller orders and donations are being encouraged.

"The model has evolved," Gomez-Monroy said. And in India's case, she said, it could mean distribution broadening as soon as June."


S. Keshav said...

I am pretty negative on the OLPC project. Let me summarize why:

1. they are going top down, from the head of government down. This introduces a lot of bureaucracy and I think chances are very good that the recipients of the laptop will be chosen due to political considerations, not need.

2. OLPC is not shared. But in developing countries, the only way to be cost effective is to share
things - shared TVs, shared mobile phones etc. This whole approach seems wrong.

3. Doesn't work for illiterate users.

4. The money spent on a million laptops can be better spent on teacher salaries and blackboards.

5. There is no support for after-sales service and spare parts

6. A recycled desktop is cheaper, easier to repair, and widely available. Why create more electronic junk when the junkyeards are full of discarded PCs?

AnKuR said...

further updates on OLPC here

I think this article corroborates your opinion in a way

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