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India Rejects One Laptop per Child Program

ScuttleMonkey posted about 8 years ago | from the children-make-the-best-lab-rats dept.

374

ex-geek writes "Seems like Negroponte's One Laptop per Child program has been rejected by the Ministry of Human Resource Development of India. Among the objections are concerns about the effect of extensive laptop use on children's health. Better uses for the monies, which would be required to roll out the OLPC project, are also named. Most insightful however is the observation that not one industrial country has so far implemented a similar program for its children, which casts doubt as to what the pedagogical use for notebooks in class really is."

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374 comments

Passing the buck (2, Insightful)

9x320 (987156) | about 8 years ago | (#15787323)

If every industrial country is waiting for the others to make the first move, who is going to go first?

Re:Passing the buck (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15787336)

A pre-industrialized country? France, maybe?

Re:Passing the buck (4, Funny)

10sball (80009) | about 8 years ago | (#15787339)

north korea

Re:Passing the buck (4, Funny)

Spazntwich (208070) | about 8 years ago | (#15787382)

I think they're still working on their "one missile per child" campaign.

Though before that gains any momentum they'll probably need to complete their "one functioning missile" campaign.

One missile per child? (2, Funny)

Asztal_ (914605) | about 8 years ago | (#15787541)

Oh, you simply must come over, I have the latest model.

The markting is bad. (2, Interesting)

elucido (870205) | about 8 years ago | (#15787557)

I do not think you can market a program like this as "One Laptop per Child Program", and it just happens to be from America, and just happens to include the name Negroponte. I mean, I'm not trying to sound like a conspiracy theorist, I'm an American, but what government will agree to this when it's marketed like this?

Most people question anything that is so cheap that it is nearly free, they ask why if laptops are so cheap that only the third world can have them? Since when did we design laptops or anything of this sort for the third world, or India?

I think these laptops ARE a good idea, I just don't think you can market it like this and expect it to take off, at a time like this when the middle east is falling down the drain. I'm not surprised by India's reaction, India is suspicious of the deal, and who wouldnt be.

Re:The markting is bad. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15787655)

Most people question anything that is so cheap that it is nearly free, they ask why if laptops are so cheap that only the third world can have them? Since when did we design laptops or anything of this sort for the third world, or India?

It's so cheap because it is so crappy. And $100 per child is nowhere near free. It's a ridiculous marketing plot and the producers are insane if they think 3rd-world-countries' leaders are stupid enough to shell out x*$10,000,000 for this crap.

It's definitely better to invest into a sane defense-system so the fucking US will not try to pull a "democratization" on them or suddenly decides that terrorists are hiding there.

Re:Passing the buck (5, Insightful)

eln (21727) | about 8 years ago | (#15787363)

Nobody has to go first. There are already plenty of schools in this and other industrialized nations that provide laptops for every student. Studies need to be done to determine if those laptops actually help (or perhaps hinder) learning in these schools. It would be silly to spend billions of dollars a year providing every child with a laptop if there are no studies that indicate there is any educational advantage to every child having a laptop.

Also, the concern about health effects may seem silly, but there have been plenty of cases where things that were relatively harmless for adults turn out to have adverse effects on still-developing children. Given this, and given that these children would presumably be using these laptops for many hours a day, asking for studies on this does not seem unreasonable.

Re:Passing the buck (4, Insightful)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | about 8 years ago | (#15787414)

As with all computer use, I would recommend caution against sitting kids down and using powerpoint* to set them up in life.

Good teaching implies using the computer as a tool rather than as a quick fix, some subjects are meant to be difficult some lessons need to be learnt.
Its exactly the same with calculators, know how to use one but only after you have tried engaging your brain first.

I feel this way after visiting a few secondary schools for my son recently, there are some which place the computer on a pedistal as the fix all, and then there are others (notably the 'poorer' schools) which have teachers being more involved and interactive.

*This is not a microsoft dig, it could equally be open office impress or any other program.

Passing the flash cards. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15787417)

"Also, the concern about health effects may seem silly, but there have been plenty of cases where things that were relatively harmless for adults turn out to have adverse effects on still-developing children."

The move to educate babies before they've left the womb.

Re:Passing the buck (0, Troll)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | about 8 years ago | (#15787424)

Also, the concern about health effects may seem silly, but there have been plenty of cases where things that were relatively harmless for adults turn out to have adverse effects on still-developing children.

Like what? Electromagnetic fields? Those have pretty much been proven okay in the last 100 years.

Is India still like Indiana Jones, where they'd flee in superstitious terror from the "sorcery" of electronic tools?

Re:Passing the buck (4, Interesting)

Senjutsu (614542) | about 8 years ago | (#15787474)

With kids bent over their laptops at school all day, I'd be more concerned about developmental problems in their spines and wrists. And eye problems, depending on screen quality.

But good job on leaping straight to the "brown people must have primitive superstitions" stereotype.

Re:Passing the buck (0, Troll)

Homology (639438) | about 8 years ago | (#15787485)

> But good job on leaping straight to the "brown people must have primitive superstitions" stereotype.

The GP is watching too much Fox "News", I guess.

Re:Passing the buck (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 8 years ago | (#15787516)

But good job on leaping straight to the "brown people must have primitive superstitions" stereotype.

And you've done an equally good job on the "utter inability to detect sarcasm from context" thing. Not as bad as that Homology [slashdot.org] dingleberry though.

Re:Passing the buck (1, Insightful)

kimvette (919543) | about 8 years ago | (#15787628)

I've been around *nervoustick* computers since *tick* age seven *tick* and I turned *tick* out perfectly fine *spasm*.

Re:Passing the buck (3, Funny)

Homology (639438) | about 8 years ago | (#15787475)

Is India still like Indiana Jones, where they'd flee in superstitious terror from the "sorcery" of electronic tools?

Seems like you have a good, decent and very solid Kansas education.

Re:Passing the buck (2, Funny)

blugu64 (633729) | about 8 years ago | (#15787567)

"Is India still like Indiana Jones, where they'd flee in superstitious terror from the "sorcery" of electronic tools?"

that would explain some of the outsourced code I've seen on thedailtwtf.com

Re:Passing the buck (4, Insightful)

Angst Badger (8636) | about 8 years ago | (#15787430)

Studies need to be done to determine if those laptops actually help (or perhaps hinder) learning in these schools.

No kidding. I've watched school districts in the US spend insane amounts of money on computer technology on the basis of blind faith that computers will automagically improve the quality and effectiveness of education. Even if most such programs were not sabotaged from the start by failing to allocate funds to actually train teachers to use them, there is seldom if ever any effort to measure results.

(To be fair, while I was working for a school district, I saw some really creative uses of computers, but these were a) the exception, and b) still not very good uses of money compared to other things that it could have been spent on.)

The other problem that is not often considered at the outset is the maintenance cost. A school district full of computers needs a full-time support staff, which takes away money that could have gone to hiring new teachers and reducing class sizes, and it also requires regular replacement. One-third of the IT budget for the district I worked in was devoted to replacing obsolete machines.

Surprisingly, the best use I saw for computers was reducing the amount of time it took teachers and staff to take attendance and collate grades. That actually did some good because teachers had more time to teach.

Particularly the psychological effects... (3, Insightful)

GillBates0 (664202) | about 8 years ago | (#15787440)

Also, the concern about health effects may seem silly, but there have been plenty of cases where things that were relatively harmless for adults turn out to have adverse effects on still-developing children. Given this, and given that these children would presumably be using these laptops for many hours a day, asking for studies on this does not seem unreasonable.

FTA: "Both physical and psychological effects of children's intensive exposure to the computer implicit in OLPC are worrisome, to say the least.

The psychological aspect seems to be more important and worrisome, IMHO. The things developing children interact with are known to cause a long-standing effect on their psychological development - particularly creativity, analytical skills and imagination. Most people (and geeks) including me can relate to how Legos had a +ve impact on their mental development as kids and how the newer "specialized lego sets" hamper this development by being too restrictive. The same can be said for many other articles/games that kids are exposed to in their developing ears.

I would venture to say that extended interaction with a particular GUI/software/interface could have a negative impact on development of these mental faculties. I'm not saying that it will, but it is quite likely that it will hamper/restrict the child to think only along a certain way, and it is quite reasonable to prevent a large-scale project such as this before adequate medical studies have been done.

Re:Particularly the psychological effects... (0, Flamebait)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 8 years ago | (#15787532)

I would venture to say that extended interaction with a particular GUI/software/interface could have a negative impact on development of these mental faculties.

Riiiight, because all of us who grew up with computers are so mentally developmentally retarded it's a wonder we can tie our shoes.

As for the medical studies, keep in mind that these computers' greatest benefit would be to kids who can't even go to school, connecting them to information and learning materials. Would you rather have a problem with carpal, or be utterly uneducated? The answer will be different for different people, I admit, but education is the only way out of where India is getting itself. History tells us that educated nations have lower birth rates and that is going to be more than desirable in India very soon.

Re:Particularly the psychological effects... (4, Insightful)

lawpoop (604919) | about 8 years ago | (#15787584)

"The things developing children interact with are known to cause a long-standing effect on their psychological development - particularly creativity, analytical skills and imagination."

I remember going over this in psych 101 and even the author of our textbook, Peter Gray [wikipedia.org] seemed skeptical. What is the criteria by which we measure the things children interact with? Does a toddler who only has cardboard boxes to play with grow up stupider than one who has plastic puzzles in primary colors? IIRC, Gray wondered if an inner city child who had no toys, but interacted with extended family in the house and watched cars go by each day was in any less stimulating an environment than a kid who had nintendo or plastic blocks. Is there any objective measurement? The child who interacts with adults is arguably in a more stimluating environment. Understanding, predicting, and manipulating adult minds arguably takes more mental faculties than doing the same with blocks.

When I was a boy, I remember a stick being variously a rifle, a magical staff, a metal sword, a light saber, a spear, even a spaceship. Are my analytical skills impoverished because I ran around in the woods and played with sticks instead of playing the living room with shiny, plastic transformers? I remember being bored to tears by He-Man and G.I. Joe figures that required no imagination -- everything they did was pre-determined. I prefered playing with leaves in puddles or making figures out of mud or clay.

I did *want* those toys that other kids had -- but when I got them, I certainly couldn't play with them. They were much to boring. They just sat on the shelf as models. That's really what they are.

a little off topic, perhaps... (3, Interesting)

westlake (615356) | about 8 years ago | (#15787489)

the concern about health effects may seem silly

I have been wondering how easy it is for a young child to keep the laptop batteries charged. This would seem to be at least an order of magnitude more demanding than a Lifeline radio.

Re:Passing the buck (1)

porcupine8 (816071) | about 8 years ago | (#15787491)

Oh, trust me, there are lots of studies out there, many with conflicting results. Mostly because no educational research is ever 100% controlled - it happens in a real classroom rather than a laboratory, where a million things could be contributing.

One thing that seems pretty clear is that how useful computers are is directly correlated with how much ongoing training the teachers and administrators receive both on using the computers and on integrating them into the curriculum. Getting the administrators on board is one of the most important things, as they tend to set the tone on whether or not the teachers are excited/willing to learn to use the technology. But even in the best-of situation with lots of training for teachers and administrators, what actual results you see from the computers varies and depends a lot on what you're counting as a measure of improvement.

Re:Passing the buck (1)

chaoticgeek (874438) | about 8 years ago | (#15787604)

I don't know weather or not laptops help the students, however I do know that if a child wants to learn and engages him or her self in the studies then they learn better. I did, a lot of is was because of my parents, mainly my mom, who pushed me to do the best I could in school. So they should try and engage the kids in school before they hand out laptops, and get the parents to push their kids to do well in school too then we would see a great change. Until then the kids who are not pushed to do their best will not use the computers to help themselves and the students who do push themselves to do the best they will use the computers to help themselves learn better, more and faster in school. And those are the ones who graduate from college and persue their dreams instead of working in a dead end factory job in the middle of nowhere...

But I don't see a major campagin to get kids involved in scool and learning so the chance of that happening is slim to none. I for one am glad I had parents like mine who wanted me to do better than what they did. Netier of them got anything above a high school education and they taught me that you have to work hard and learn in school. Maybe that is decent parenting, maybe its just being smart parents, or maybe they want to live off of me when they get old... Who knows, but I'm glad they pushed me and I would love to see more parents push their children to do their best and learn everything they can.

Re:Passing the buck (3, Insightful)

N3wsByt3 (758224) | about 8 years ago | (#15787642)

"Also, the concern about health effects may seem silly, but there have been plenty of cases where things that were relatively harmless for adults turn out to have adverse effects on still-developing children."

Actually, almost everything that is harmful to children is also harmful to adults, though perhaps greater quantities are needed to inflict the same damage to the latter, sometimes.

Thus, you choose your words 'relatively harmful' very well. ;-)

Re:Passing the buck (1)

scaryjohn (120394) | about 8 years ago | (#15787383)

More to the point, several developed countries (like India, actually) are federal, with education handled by the sub-national governments and local entities. So pointing to national governments is a bit misleading. While no U.S. state is planning to give its kids hand-crank powered laptops, Maine is trying to get iBooks into the hands of all its junior high students.

Of course, I'm still skeptical about the usefulness of computers to small children in general, and at students' classroom desks in higher grades.

So why not just give Ibooks? (1)

elucido (870205) | about 8 years ago | (#15787581)

Please tell me why we should give out special laptops to people in the third world?
If you were living in the third world, would you want one of these special laptops or an Ibook? I think if we just offered Ibooks in the first place it would be accepted. It's that we are offering these new unusual laptops that most likely scares people away from using them.

I think computers are very useful, I think the idea is very good, I just wish we would have given out ibooks in the first place instead of computers people never heard of that are handcranked or whatever. I understand the third world has energy problems, so how about a solar powered or handcranked modified ibook?

Re:So why not just give Ibooks? (1)

porcupine8 (816071) | about 8 years ago | (#15787629)

Um, in case you haven't been following this story too closely, the main point is that these will retail for $100. iBooks retail for roughly ten times that amount.

Sure, maybe Apple could figure out how to make a $100 limited iBook, but they're a private company rather than a nonprofit, so how would that help their shareholders? Or someone could donate 10x as much money to get real iBooks out there - but then people would say it's a waste of money if you could get 10x as many of these special computers for the same price.

(Of course, Apple DID offer to donate OS X licenses to the project, but Negroponte refused b/c he wants it totally open source...)

Re:So why not just give Ibooks? (1)

scaryjohn (120394) | about 8 years ago | (#15787648)

Sincere answer: because these laptops, if produced in sufficiently large quantities will allegedly only cost $100 apiece.

Cynical answer: because the corporate sponsors of the program are seeking to create a user base for Linux in the developing world, where they aren't subject to a Windows monopoly over software that can run on their hardware, or an Apple monopoly over hardware that doesn't need MS software.

It's just too obvious. The "Negroponte" Laptop? (1)

elucido (870205) | about 8 years ago | (#15787528)

The name "Negroponte", and free laptops will make any government alittle bit suspicious. This would be like the last names Clinton and Bush joining forces to give out free laptops, and offering it to India.

I think it's a good idea, but just, don't I think even people in India know the name Negroponte. So I'm not surprised they rejected the one laptop per child program. It just seems political even if it isnt.

Overdoing the math. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15787338)

"Among the objections are concerns about the effect of extensive laptop use on children's health. "

I feel the same way about calculators.

How about (4, Insightful)

bacterial_pus (863883) | about 8 years ago | (#15787340)

working towards a 'food and shelter for every child' program first

Reduce the population first (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15787365)

India has too many people already. I recommend a "One Child Per Laptop" program! :)

Easy enough (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15787487)

Just arm pakastan with guns, fighters, and nukes. Oh, wait. That is what USA is doing. Oh, I see.

Going to Africa next week. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15787375)

I'm headed off to Africa next week to help with running water and AIDS education. Dropping off an IPOD or Open Office isn't going to give these kids clean water or stop the spread of a deadly virus.

Sorry folks but yes, it's a good idea but there are far more basic needs that must be addressed FIRST.

Re:Going to Africa next week. (5, Insightful)

Senzei (791599) | about 8 years ago | (#15787397)

Sorry folks but yes, it's a good idea but there are far more basic needs that must be addressed FIRST.
Yep, there are a lot of people with really basic needs. Too bad there are not more educated members of society with the ability to communicate those needs to each other and organize some aid. It would be awesome if someone could help give an education boost to those countries that are above starvation but not yet affluent enough to really provide a lot of help. Oh wait...

Re:Going to Africa next week. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15787450)

So those who are above starving are going to connect to Myspace to tell others that there are people starving 30 miles away?

I wish I had the faith in humanity that you do. While someone has said "teach a man to fish", he still needs a pole and that pole is not a laptop.

Re:Going to Africa next week. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15787525)

And simply clean water and marginally smaller chance of getting AIDS won't help the kids do anything expect stay poor. Even without AIDS and with clean water they will have a miserable life as it stands now.

It's quite a simple equation, education may lead x people to die due to lack of basic needs however it will result in the country as a whole reaching some standard of living y years sooner. Basic needs however will lead to x less people dying, z increase in population and an extra y years needed for the country to get out of poverty.

In other words education is an attempt to think long term and accept short term sacrifices, while simply basic needs is an attempt to blindly try to fix short term problems and ignore the long term ones. It's akin to introducing modern medicine without infrastructure or birth control education. The later one doesn't work very well as an area can't advance that way.

Re:How about (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15787381)

The obvious comment in every case is "give a man a fish and you feed him for a day... "

But it's deeper than that. By giving free shelter or food, you destroy the shelter and food providing industries in the countries. The textile industries in many "third world" countries have been wiped out by cheap or free second hand clothing from the west.

If you get people educated and doing something then the contribute valuably and generate a real economy. Have a look at some of the work of the charity Intermediate Technology to understand how this can happen.

Now it isn't obvious that one laptop per child is the best way to do this, but it also isn't obvious that it isn't a good way to do it. The only way to find out is to do the experiment. The fact that India someone in India rejects it so loudly and publically before it's even been tried suggests less than the best motivation.

Perhaps a little helping hand from Microsoft has been around here?

Re:How about (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15787549)

By giving free shelter or food, you destroy the shelter and food providing industries in the countries.

Parent AC speaks truth. If we continue to just hand out free food the economy at the low end will never start. What is needed isn't free food, it's someone to teach them to farm their land to the best of its ability, and if anything must be free, then giving them a supply of crop seed to get started. And these have to be real seeds, not the GM "terminator" variety which simply makes the farmers dependent on the generosity of the biotech firms to feed them next year. Throw in some scrap iron for enterprising blacksmiths to turn into plowshares to barter with the farmers for a share of food, and they hit the ground running with trade.

Once everyone has the ability to be fed, then someone'll have to sort out the lawlessness (not so much in India, but many other places) that leads to regional warlords who would simply seize the crops and leave the farmers to starve. This is step two, and even now when we ship free food and medical supplies to these places, theres a good chance that most of that gets seized as well. Once that's been taken care of, then the real work begins.

Once everyone has the ability to be fed and gets fed, we'll start to see the beginnings of real trade again. Mostly local bartering at first, but once the country currency becomes worth something useful, perhaps someone will be willing to truck goods from one city to another instead of growing food for themselves, knowing that the colored bits of paper they receive will permit them to buy a goat and some chickens for their family back home. Once goods start moving outside of the locality, demand will appear for gasoline, trucks, tires, and so on. Radios, TVs, and other sources of news from beyond the next town over will be wanted as well. If the government does not collapse back into corruption and lawlessness, then roads should be getting built and/or repaired at this point. Or perhaps the locals will innovate offroad cargo vehicles that don't require government-built roads. Whether the government wants to or not, the locals' children will learn how to run the family farm, if not how to operate trucks, or repair trucks, or build trucks. Or radios, or TVs, and so on.

Overall the problem is that people from all parts of the economic spectrum believe that someone waves a magic wand and BAM! an economy appears. They're still scratching their heads over post-Katrina New Orleans wondering why workers did not magically appear out of thin air to be paid minimum wage to build houses, then disappear back into thin air at night because they couldn't afford to live in the houses that people wanted them to build. Or why stores didn't reopen right away, staffed by magic dragons and selling milk to the tooth fairy. They simply don't understand that the "global economy" snuffs out any attempt for a fledgeling local economy to form, whether its the free clothes and food coming in, or corporations building call centers and luring people away from their farms for the promise of riches, only to leave them in the dirt later when they find another country to do it cheaper. Either the world must keep its hands off once it's set in motion (until it can stand on its own), or the world must run the entire local economy itself (essentially forever), there is no successful middle ground.

"Not with our kids!" (1)

rmerry72 (934528) | about 8 years ago | (#15787615)

The only way to find out is to do the experiment. The fact that India someone in India rejects it so loudly and publically before it's even been tried suggests less than the best motivation.

Actually TFA directly states that the Indian government does recognise the need for more reasearch and an experiment. Their response is "Not with our kids!"

Has this been proposed for other countries? Have other governments been giving this marvellous option of improving their own kids? Think there aren't a million impoverished kids in the UK, US or even here down under that could benefit from this wonderful gift of gratitude?

That's the core point of the Indian representative. Why spend $100 million on something that is not proven and that no other contry in the world has done. Giving laptops to preppie kids at a few schools is way different to a mass roll out to a million kids.

Not to mention issues such as support, teaching, upgrades, networking infrastructure, software. Hell - how many of this fortunate children would be in reach of a regular supply of electricity to charge their mighty laptops?

Laptops for a milion kids is a half baked plan of symbolistic philanthropy. Its a gesture only. Its not practical to implement, and the benefits are dubious in the current world climate.

Re:How about (5, Interesting)

qortra (591818) | about 8 years ago | (#15787394)

How about not? See, we could give the huge population of India food until the rest of the world runs out of money, and it wouldn't help that much. The children need a way to earn their own food, or else nothing will change in the long run. A starving child who can program a computer or manage a business or teach history won't be starving for long, especially in a place like India that is just starting to be recognized as a potential high-level worker pool.

Re:How about (5, Interesting)

Clyde (150895) | about 8 years ago | (#15787470)

Actually, it would take very little money to feed the hungry of the world. The money that third world countries pay out ever year in debt maintenance is greater than the cost of feeding the hungry.

http://www.jubileeusa.org/jubilee.cgi?path=/learn_ more&page=why_drop_the_debt.html [jubileeusa.org]

Re:How about (1)

qortra (591818) | about 8 years ago | (#15787533)

Firstly, it isn't like debt payments drop off the face of the earth. They go to other corporations or countries who in turn feed their poor or employ people who can feed their families with the money.

Secondly, I'll give you 1 guess concerning how countries get out of debt....
....
....
They educate their citizens to generate capital!

Re:How about (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 8 years ago | (#15787556)

Okay, I flat out refuse to listen to any website that tells me to do something because the bible says so, but another thing that whole debt thing misses is that if people started announcing they wouldn't pay back their debts, then we would see global economic collapse.

However, the money is the smallest part of the cost. The real issue is that giving people food only helps them in the short run. While that is valuable and sometimes necessary, it is more necessary to address long-term problems. What happens when the world is dependent on free food, and something happens that makes it impossible to maintain the distribution system? We're talking diebacks that make every tragedy and holocaust in human history put together look like a fucking cocktail party.

Re:How about (1)

bacterial_pus (863883) | about 8 years ago | (#15787564)

Thanks Clyde. I'd love to see this money being used to repay debt.

Re:How about (5, Interesting)

pherthyl (445706) | about 8 years ago | (#15787572)

The side effect of feeding the hungry is that it effectively destroys their entire local food production business. The farmers who previously supported themselves selling food can't compete with free and are suddenly themselves dependant on handouts to survive.

Do some reading on how the flood of donated clothes from the western world destroyed the textile industry in many areas of Africa. Handouts are a terrible long term solution.

Re:How about (1)

OmegaBlac (752432) | about 8 years ago | (#15787411)

working towards a 'food and shelter for every child' program first
And how do you know that they don't already have such programs (smaller scale) in place already? And let us be realistic here. Not even first-world countries can provide food and shelter for every single child within their borders so how likely would developing countries be able to do so? The cycle of poor people depending on their governments and interal/external organizations to help feed them will continue unless people can gain an education. And as the first-world moves further into the information age, the developing countries need to play catchup; these laptops would help them narrow the growing divide between the first-world and the developing countries.

Re:How about (1)

bacterial_pus (863883) | about 8 years ago | (#15787457)

Being from the same reigon, I've seen those kids and it's not a pretty sight I Googled kids starving in India and here is just one link with an excerpt. See what UNICEF is doing http://www.ahrchk.net/pr/mainfile.php/2005mr/143 [ahrchk.net] "(KOLKATA, India, March 23, 2005) Some 500 people marched to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) office in Kolkata on Wednesday to vent their anger over the international agency's neglect of thousands of children starving in West Bengal.................. five-year-old boy was reported to have eaten dirt before he died in Murshidabad in February. In another case, about 28 families in Anahar in the South Dinajpur district have been suffering in extreme conditions with three children already reported dead and 15 other people dying" Let me know

Not mutually exclusive (4, Insightful)

StefanJ (88986) | about 8 years ago | (#15787412)

There is no reason not to simultaneously provide medical aid, food aid, aid to repair infrastructure, and etcetera, and computers. That is a phony dichotomy.

One of the big failings of aid and development programs in the past has been a lack of appropriateness; clueless big projects which do little or nothing to help.

It is possible that the One-Laptop-Per-Child project is one of these clueless projects. It could, however, end up as a sort of force multiplier, a source of intelligence (in the "information" sense of the word) and a form of feedback that would let aid organizations know what is really needed and where.

Re:How about (1)

kimvette (919543) | about 8 years ago | (#15787649)

Don't be $illy, it'$ ju$t not profitable enough.

MS counter move (4, Insightful)

bstadil (7110) | about 8 years ago | (#15787341)

Gates have been courting India for quite a while. This move is a political move nothing to do with the merits of the program.

I really don't care about India but would love to see Bangladesh adopt the OLPC program. They have thanks to Yusun and his Microloan program almost eradicated poverty so they seem to be a more innovative people. Remember 10- 15 years ago you almost always heardf about the plight of Bangladesh? Heard anything lately? I rest my case

Re:MS counter move (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15787351)

Thanks to blogs, I only hear about opinions which directly match my political leanings. Therefore I have not learned anything about this so-called "Bangled Desh."

Re:MS counter move (1)

alphakappa (687189) | about 8 years ago | (#15787379)

"Remember 10- 15 years ago you almost always heardf about the plight of Bangladesh? Heard anything lately?"
I don't know what world you are living in, my friend, but Bangladesh still has ~35% of the population below the poverty line [geoplace.com] . I'm not dissing Bangladesh, which is a lovely country, but your statement which is quite ignorant.

Re:MS counter move (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 8 years ago | (#15787570)

I don't know what world you are living in, my friend, but Bangladesh still has ~35% of the population below the poverty line. I'm not dissing Bangladesh, which is a lovely country, but your statement which is quite ignorant.

Now, I'm not disagreeing with you, but I do want to point out the fallacy of referring to a "poverty line". Here in California, I've spent more time living below the Federal poverty line than I have spent living above it, yet I have usually had a car, always had a place to live, always been well-fed and adequately clothed.

Poverty is a relative term, and I'm sure the poverty line there relates much more closely to a reasonable definition of poverty than that which we enjoy in the US.

Some Good Points (4, Interesting)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | about 8 years ago | (#15787345)

The Director makes some good points, but I think there is also a sense that no country wants to be seen as needing the program. I wonder if the program itself could be seen as an affront to the pride of many of the target nations.

Maybe the pledge to buy two laptops to donate to get one free really isn't such a bad thing after all. Governments have a difficult time tturning away things that are free.

Nigeria orders first million OLPC laptops (1, Redundant)

SpaceLifeForm (228190) | about 8 years ago | (#15787462)

Link [vnunet.com] .

Might prove for some commerciall success though (1)

Goalie_Ca (584234) | about 8 years ago | (#15787347)

I know if they came out with a simple cheap and durable laptop with software and hardware that just worked and lasted a decade I would buy one for sure. We're all so used to buying new computers and components and constantly updating and patching software. A lot of wasted money, pollution, resources, power, and time. It would be nice if a company put time into something to get it right. So far the closest one is apple and their old g3 and g4 lines. The new intel ones have a lot of maturing to do yet IMO.

btw.. the tinymail project is making good progress for OLPC and it'll be nice to see the fruits of that labour on my desktop :D

Re:Might prove for some commerciall success though (1)

Ant P. (974313) | about 8 years ago | (#15787419)

We're all so used to buying new computers and components and constantly updating and patching software. A lot of wasted money, pollution, resources, power, and time.

I've done the exact opposite: put in a slower, older GFX card, slower RAM and downclocked the CPU. I don't really notice the loss, even with games, and it's saving on the electricity bill.

Health reasons? (2, Funny)

Neil Blender (555885) | about 8 years ago | (#15787359)

What, is he afraid that India will turn into a country where everyone has a really muscular right arm?

Re:Health reasons? (1)

RoffleTheWaffle (916980) | about 8 years ago | (#15787501)

You mean from charging the thing, or...?

We should do this for ourselfs. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15787360)

We cann't do this for ourself first? Our education system sucks.
There needs to be an education revolution!
First we need the information infrastructure to handle the video.

Nigeria accepts OLPC (5, Informative)

Gord (23773) | about 8 years ago | (#15787371)

Worth pointing out that according to this, brief, article [allafrica.com] Nigeria has ordered 1 million of these laptops at $100 a throw.

Re:Nigeria accepts OLPC (2, Funny)

Anonymous Crowhead (577505) | about 8 years ago | (#15787390)

Great. 419 scam emails will jump 100 fold.

Re:Nigeria accepts OLPC (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15787406)

The next generation of scammers will know their stuff then. :D

Seriously though, having read the avarage geek response to laptop, I bet they could raise a shitload by selling them for $200 and using the profits to educate the children instead. Might be a better plan.

Who doesn't want weird and sturdy little laptop?

Re:Nigeria accepts OLPC (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15787627)

Great, all that's missing now is a "One Bank Account Per Child" program for North America and Western Europe.

Two words (5, Funny)

twofidyKidd (615722) | about 8 years ago | (#15787373)

"...which casts doubt as to what the pedagogical use for notebooks in class really is."

Sex Ed.

Re:Two words (5, Insightful)

Capt'n Hector (650760) | about 8 years ago | (#15787536)

Not funny. Insightful. Do you know how much ignorance there is in developing nations about STDs, birth control, pregnancy, etc?

Re:Two words (2, Interesting)

Nimey (114278) | about 8 years ago | (#15787614)

Do you know how much ignorance there is in developed nations about same?

Ssshhh... don't let on about birth control education, or the Catholic Church will condemn the program.

Industrial Countries have Textbooks (5, Insightful)

xzvf (924443) | about 8 years ago | (#15787380)

Industrial countries have and can pay for nearly new textbooks to give to each child. Most parents in industialized countries have computers their children can use. OLPC replaces books and gives the entire family access to information.

Re:Industrial Countries have Textbooks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15787539)

Forget laptops, many Indian kids don't have a school to go to, and even if they do, those schools are lousy (Needless to say, there are some great schools but they are private and those kids definitely have access to computers).

On the other hand, it is not a bad idea to spend that money on secondary education. But then it is only an idea, the money rarely if ever reaches the deserving kids. It won't happen until politicians find a way to make money by educating kids.

Re:Industrial Countries have Textbooks (1)

monopole (44023) | about 8 years ago | (#15787596)

Um, not quite. Most school textbooks are in poor repair and antiquated in the US. Secondly present textbook publishing is volume driven, with the content often dictated by Texas and other large red state markets.
The use of an OLPC would not only allow for up to date textbooks but would allow more enlightened states to avoid present least common denominator content.

On the day that Nigeria buys 1 million of these .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15787386)

"not one industrial country has so far implemented a similar program for its children"

and look at how the next generation of children is turning out now. Dumb, brainwashed fat lazy droids and consumers for the most part, unless the parents had the money to give them a decent education.

First world kids these days can use computers, yes. For the internet, and for games. How many of them use them for educational purposes? Sweet FA, that's how many. A useful tool for education has been ignored, why? Maybe it wasn't in some corporation's best interests that they were used - replacing textbooks, teaching children to think, to reason, to use their brains, to not be sheep. Can't trust the teachers to do this, they're overworked, under-provisioned and they've lost the will to make a difference a long time ago.

It may be a case of self-defeat. (1, Troll)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | about 8 years ago | (#15787388)

If you've been to India and you know something about the history of the people there, you know they are very self-defeating.

For years the rich and powerful in India prevented outside influence. This slowed India's development.

--
U.S. Government violence encourages other violence.

Re:It may be a case of self-defeat. (1)

Tx (96709) | about 8 years ago | (#15787420)

I know little about India, but what I've read recently indicates that not much has changed in that regard. The current tech boom in India, unlike the industrial booms that fuelled the growth of most of the "tiger economies", apparently does not have much "trickle down" effect to the (particularly rural) poor, and is pretty much only benefitting a small segment of society. Shame really, but maybe the tech boom will eventually lead to the kind of growth needed to really benefit the poor, even if it doesn't benefit them much directly.

Re:It may be a case of self-defeat. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 8 years ago | (#15787589)

The current tech boom in India, unlike the industrial booms that fuelled the growth of most of the "tiger economies", apparently does not have much "trickle down" effect to the (particularly rural) poor

I'll say the same thing about that lack of "trickle down" effect that I said about Reagan's... "TRICKLE DOWN MY ASS." I didn't even mean to say something that funny the first time... But there's a reason it's called trickle down and not flow down. Also, keep in mind what even your plumber knows... shit rolls downhill.

A Solution in Search of a Problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15787409)

A solution that is more cost effective than "one notebook per child" (ONPC) and that is already widely implemented is "many desktop computers per school" (MDCPS).

Consider the cost effectiveness. Suppose that an elementary school has 500 students in the 1st grade. Over the course of 6 years, the school district must spend $300,000 under the ONPC plan. Presumably, the school has 5 grade levels, and once a student receives a notebook in the 1st grade, she carries the notebook with her throughout the 5 grade levels.

Under the MDCPS plan, the elementary school spends $100 on an older second-hand desktop computer. The school district puts 1000 computers in a computer lab for the whole school. 1000 computers is a lot of computers for a school with 2500 students. The school then spends $100,000 in total for the equipment.

Why spend $300,000 (over 6 years) when $100,000 will suffice?

Most schools already have a computer lab.

In other words, the ONPC is a solution in search of a non-existent problem. The only thing that the ONPC plan provides but that the MDCPS plan does to have is 24-hour access to a computer. However, most normal people do not spend 24 hours on a computer.

Here, normal people is, by definition, anyone who does not participate in SlashDot.

Re:A Solution in Search of a Problem (1)

WindBourne (631190) | about 8 years ago | (#15787500)

Of course, you seem to want to foget the fact that this is designed to replace the books, not just computers.

Perceived Threat (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about 8 years ago | (#15787423)

I bet they only saw it as a threat, people importing something to their country, other then cash.

Sort of like 'outsourcing' but backwards. Cant have that, might upset the balance of money flow.

Kids? who cares about the kids, unless we can sell them for a profit.

Several experiments in the US (5, Insightful)

theCat (36907) | about 8 years ago | (#15787436)

Over the years, a few US states and many individual school districts have experimented with one-student-one-computer, to general positive results. It's not without its detractors, of course, and I suspect that lately these programs have to a degree fallen under the wheels of the "teach toward the test" canflagration now sweeping the nation.

I think anyone who says "feed them first, then give them a computer" misses the point that if all you do is ever feed people and then move on, that's as far as they get. I get the impression that while most people living in poverty will happily accept a meal, they will likewise fight hard and loudly to better their condition even at the risk of someone going without a meal in the process. You don't have to be a rich Western geek to understand that filling your belly today doesn't guarantee a full belly tomorrow, and food aid is notorious for drying up once a current crisis is abated.

These poor people need a leg-up, and they need it now. The emerging information market will forget they even exist if they don't learn how to interact with it on its own terms. Out of sight is out of mind, and out of mind is quickly dead and forgotten.

Re:Several experiments in the US (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15787583)

To summarize your article:

Another rich white kid feeling liberal guilt speaks deridingly and with self-imposed authority about the best way to elevate the poor helpless folk to an digital utopia.

Re:Several experiments in the US (4, Insightful)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | about 8 years ago | (#15787599)

Over the years, a few US states and many individual school districts have experimented with one-student-one-computer, to general positive results

Care to link to these positive results? I've only seen studies that show how overall useless, if not negative, computers are in the classroom, especially when you give them to students. They get broken easily, they're generally used in non-educational ways, and they're a big distraction. I doubt you can find some clear, unambiguous gains for students with laptops.

- fear of change? (2, Interesting)

EnempE (709151) | about 8 years ago | (#15787448)

If your current marketable resource is cheap labour, why would you educate your populous with access to world media? Would this not just increase their expectations regarding an acceptable standard of living ? Would this not increase the level of communications between the youth with mesh networks bridging communinities? This level of communications could perhaps lead to a level of organisation that could be a powerful political force? Could this element upset your current long range planning for your country ? Would you take the risk?

It's not about laptops, it's about computers (1)

Bromskloss (750445) | about 8 years ago | (#15787460)

not one industrial country has so far implemented a similar program for its children, which casts doubt as to what the pedagogical use for notebooks in class really is
The need for laptops like these is not so great in countries where there already are computers everywhere.

Substantial Naysayer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15787467)

We've technically heard all this before, haven't we? Money could be better used to help the needy in a less "technical" way. I suppose it took an actual government to say it for some of the argument to sink in.

Look, I'm with you -- we're technogeeks and this is what we do. We know we'd have loved to have tech stuff when we were kids and think that the less fortunate should have the same opportunity. It's a sincere and genuine thought. When I had an Apple II at 8, I learned bits of BASIC and an interest in programming. I now make a modest living helping people out at a public computer lab. Whee.

I do understand the humanitarian aspect of free software -- that poverty shouldn't limit creativity. Governments usually don't look at things at the microscopic level, though. They probably see this as giving an inedible commodity to the hungry. Instead, pitch the idea to specific charities and the like. If a government wants to help, they can provide some funding for the charities and let those closest to the people figure out if the one laptop per child program is appropriate for those they help.

Momma... Momma says laptops are the devil (3, Insightful)

kaoshin (110328) | about 8 years ago | (#15787480)

There may be a better use of the money, but the bit about children's health is pretty lame. What do they think that kids will go blind? Reminds me of when my Mom used to tell me "Dont sit too close to the television set!". Even the eye doctors said crap like that. I started using computers as a child and my vision was also poor. My optometrist said that if I kept using computers constantly like I was then I would end up requiring glasses or corrective surgery or something. Even after an increased amount of usage (I now have multiple monitors in my face for 12+ hours a day) my vision has actually improved to 20/20. Am I genetically superior to most nerds, or was it all just a load of crap? I can understand my vision not changing, but how it actually got better by increasing the time and amount of radiation my eyes are exposed to IMPROVED my vision boggles the mind. Socially though, they may be correct. I'm not a fat nerd, but if you get into computers you will have to work with fat nerds, and who wants that? Besides, I'd rather discourage Indians from learning computers because they seem to be taking all my jobs from me. So yeah, I say they should maybe punish children who use computers, perhaps with a shocking monkey.

Re:Momma... Momma says laptops are the devil (2, Insightful)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 8 years ago | (#15787551)

There may be a better use of the money, but the bit about children's health is pretty lame. What do they think that kids will go blind? Reminds me of when my Mom used to tell me "Dont sit too close to the television set!". Even the eye doctors said crap like that. I started using computers as a child and my vision was also poor. My optometrist said that if I kept using computers constantly like I was then I would end up requiring glasses or corrective surgery or something. Even after an increased amount of usage (I now have multiple monitors in my face for 12+ hours a day) my vision has actually improved to 20/20. Am I genetically superior to most nerds, or was it all just a load of crap?

 
No, you are an unusual case sitting out under one end or the other of the bell curve.

Re:Momma... Momma says laptops are the devil (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15787552)

Reminds me of when my Mom used to tell me "Dont sit too close to the television set!". Even the eye doctors said crap like that.

So.. Glasses or contacts?

PCs in schools are mostly a distraction (1)

Radical Rad (138892) | about 8 years ago | (#15787498)

not one industrial country has so far implemented a similar program for its children, which casts doubt as to what the pedagogical use for notebooks in class really is

One effect is to distract the students with email, instant messaging, games, web surfing, porn, cracking into other computers, anything but pay attention to the material which is, obviously, not conducive to learning. [sciencedaily.com]

India Rejects One Laptop per Child Program (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about 8 years ago | (#15787517)

And introduces a more advanced, grand and definitely a more cost-effective 'Kill Off Those Without Laptops' program.

Good - Laptops are bullshit (1)

Geccie (730389) | about 8 years ago | (#15787527)

Sorry - Our grandparents built the hoover dam, sent astronauts to the moon, and created computer systems and languages - all without computers in schools. Advocates seem to think this is the magic wand that will make the school critters smart. How about homework.

I do think there are a few subjects where the ability to illustrate is extremely important convey a concept or situation. However, the idea that each child should have a laptop is complete and total bullshit!

Our children are now dumber per dollar spent on education than many less wealthy countries!

effects of lack of laptop (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15787530)

How about the cognitive health effects and educational effects of the lack of access to modern technology on children. Seems like they are not too concerned with their children's professional and academic future.

The white man's burden (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 8 years ago | (#15787537)

From TFA:
  • It [the Indian Ministry of Human Resource Development] also finds it intriguing as to "why no developed country has been chosen" for MIT's OLPC experiment "given the fact that most of the developed world is far from universalising the possession and use of laptops among children of 6-12 age group".
That's because Negroponte, like the people who adopt from China or Korea, still believes in the White Man's Burden [gmu.edu] . It's racisim and elitism and imperialism, pure and simple. An undiluted form of bigotry straight from the nineteenth century. But it's been given a White Hat by virtue of seniority.

no developed country has signed on because.. (1)

bitlooter (949192) | about 8 years ago | (#15787543)

perhaps because they don't need such a program? they are wealthy so the parents can afford to buy better computers for their kids, the same cannot be said for 99% of Indian parents.

you may wish to check your numbers (1)

tizan (925212) | about 8 years ago | (#15787616)

~25% of Indian population is better off economically than the lower 30% of the USA population (for e.g your typical walmart employee)

how hard is it... (1)

zogger (617870) | about 8 years ago | (#15787545)

..to think the word "books"? Really, this isn't rocket surgery here. This is one of the primary uses of these proposed laptops, cheap e books easily shared and duplicated, to go to areas where a SINGLE dead trees book is an expensive luxury. It's right in their proposals! I'd call that a "pedagogical use".

Ungrateful fucking towelhead fucknuts (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15787582)

Go fuck yourself Habib!!!

lord (5, Insightful)

Danzigism (881294) | about 8 years ago | (#15787591)

i think they just need to market the damn things.. i'd gladly pay $150-200 for one, for my kid.. just manufacture them damnit!! i think the idea is great to give kids these things and all, but i'd rather buy the kids tons of books and put the money in to providing them a good education, with good teachers and a nice working environment..

I think Herbert Hoover once said. . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15787623)

'A laptop in every pot'. Wait, that's not good for the laptop.

'Pot in every laptop', now that's a good thing. :-)

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