India and the $100 Laptop

Nicholas Negroponte has been in the news a lot lately with his One Laptop Per Child initiative (better known as the $100 laptop).

According to the OLPC website the goal of the $100 laptop initiative program is, “to provide children around the world with new opportunities to explore, experiment and express themselves.”

I honestly have not followed this program very closely, but I must admit when I heard of it , I thought is was an interesting idea with much potential.  I think that most people would agree that education is the best way to help people in poverty overcome their situation and assist those around them in rising from the depths of poverty as well.  I believe that education is the intent of Negroponte and his $100 laptop initiative.  I certainly do not know all of the logistics of the program or the $100 laptop, and I have many questions.  Will the laptops be capable of getting Internet access and if so, who pays for it?  Who will offer tech support and training for the countries who adopt this initiative?  What is the criteria for obtaining one of the laptops?

As I heard about the program, I thought most developing countries would be excited at the opportunity to offer a technological advantage to their poor, but apparently this is not the case with all countries.  Recently India rejected the one-to-one program.  And after reading some opinions on the matter, I guess I can see their side of the story.  Why would a country spend $100 per laptop when many students do not have adequate shelter, food, or schools to attend?  That being said, apparently some countries like Nigeria are open to the concept. 

Do the $100 laptops have the potential to positively influence the educational systems in developing countries?  I don’t know, but I am interested to find out.  Hopefully a few countries will at least pilot the laptops in select areas and track what progress ensues.  I know when the laptops in my school district are used effectively they make a difference in the education of our students, so maybe the $100 laptops can make a difference in the education of the students in developing countries as well.

If you are interested in reading more about the project, there are tons of articles in the news, and if you have an opinion on this matter, I would love to hear it. 

Explore posts in the same categories: 1 to 1, EdTech, Edtech News, Education, India, Laptops, Negroponte, Nigeria, OLPC, one to one, Technology

5 Comments on “India and the $100 Laptop”

  1. Abi Says:

    Fact: Indian government’s spending on school education works out to less than Rs. 5,000 (about 100 Dollars) per year per child. By any yardstick, this is a meager sum, and it shows. In the shoddy classrooms, lack of blackboards and toilets, inadequate number of teachers, …

    Should the government be spending money on a million laptops?

    I agree with you that it would be nice to find out how well a laptop works in poor countries’ schools. However, shouldn’t this ‘experiment’ be supported through private funding, perhaps on a pilot scale? My problems with the OLPC initiative are that (a) it wants to sell its laptops to bureaucrats, and (b) it wants to do it in a ‘Big Bang’ way (a million pieces is the smallest lot a government can buy!), without doing any pilot study.

    Combine them with the OLPC’s firm refusal to sell the product in the open market, the problems turn into suspicions!

  2. Why would a country spend $100 per laptop when many students do not have adequate shelter, food, or schools to attend?

    If given a choice between spending tax dollars on weapons or on social security, what would a people choose? And if it chose to prefer social security, how would the democratically chosen government then actual allocate these funds?

    How funds are allocated is not always crystal clear, let alone logical. A country may have set aside a large sum for education and none for shelters, food and medical care.

    The OLPC’s target countries each need to assess whether the OLPC fits their long-term plans for education. India has decided it won’t, Nigeria has decided it will. Neither decision is necessarily right or wrong.

    Combine them with the OLPC’s firm refusal to sell the product in the open market, the problems turn into suspicions!

    Not selling these laptops on the open market is bad for so many reasons. If they’re any good, there will be a huge black market for them. If they have their flaws, market forces will make sure these get solved faster. And if they’re really bad, the market won’t be shy about saying so.

  3. Hiren Says:

    Schools in India have not really taken to computers in a way commensuarate with its importance. Either it is indifference, resistance to change or teachers fearing for their jobs. Its unfortunate that excellent schemes like these are doomed to fail because of vested interest.

  4. Thanks for your thoughts. Hopefully, enough countries will adopt the $100 laptops to give us an adequate picture of what kind of impact personal technology devices can have in developing countries. The OLPC is certainly an interesting and exciting venture.

  5. […] it, but did not get a chance to really read though it and reflect upon it until today.I have written before about the prospect of the $100 laptop and was interested to read up on some of the new developments […]

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