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No OLPCs for Indian Schoolchildren

timothy posted more than 7 years ago | from the which-is-not-to-say-no-computers dept.

98

Yesterday we linked The Times of India's report that India's Ministry of Human Resource Development has rejected implementation of the One Laptop per Child initiative in that country. Readers speculated both on why India rejected the program, and whether it's a good or bad move to have done so. As usual, there are some insightful comments with wildly divergent conclusions; read on for the Backslash summary of the discussion to see a handful of the most interesting ones.jalfreize applauded the move, calling OLPC "a crazy idea," and points out some of the less-obvious costs of the program:

In India, there are basically two kinds of schools — the high tuition, exclusive schools run by Christian Convents or rich, privately funded educational institutions, and the 'municipal' schools run by the government.

Most children that go to the former category of schools come from middle class/upper class families and already have access to computers at home.

Presumably, the OLPC program is for the second type of schools, which mostly children who live close to or below the poverty line attend. Most of these schools will have teachers who have never used computers, and who are likely to resent any drastic technological change such as computers in the classroom.

So, along with an OLPC program, the government would have to run a massive teacher-education program to teach the use of these computers in the classroom — not to mention overhauling the coursework so that it makes effective use of these machines.

In addition, the government would have to put in place infrastructure to service and repair these laptops at affordable prices throughout India.

All of this to be done in a country of more than a billion people speaking hundreds of known languages and dialects.

When you think of these factors, those laptops are going to cost way more than the $100 MIT claims.

I could go on and on about the fallacies of this scheme, but clearly, it would be crazy for India to adopt it at this point in time.

Sensing more sinister goings on, reader bstadil calls the decision the result of an "MS counter move":
Gates has 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 heard of about the plight of Bangladesh? Heard anything lately? I rest my case.

Reader eln takes the Ministry's objections at closer to face value, writing

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.

While the OLPC program may have suffered a setback in India, reader Gord says it's
Worth pointing out that according to this brief article, Nigeria has ordered 1 million of these laptops at $100 a throw.
Nigeria's government isn't the only one who holds out hope for the benefit of a cheap, low-powered but durable computer. Danzigism is one of several readers who thinks that the OLPC hardware has a brighter future if it was made available on a larger scale:
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 into providing them a good education, with good teachers and a nice working environment.
Reader theCat defends computer-per-pupil programs, and says that "[s]everal experiments in the U.S." have resulted in "general[ly] positive results," writing

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.

Reader Bastian responds to that, writing

As a former student of a school with a one-student-one-computer program, I'd like to point out that I'm not convinced by the positive results people are reporting. When you spend God-only-knows-how-much-money and muck around with kids' educations with a program like this, admitting you screwed up is just about the dumbest thing a person could possibly do. I can't speak for anyone else, but my high school really screwed up with that idea. That didn't stop the administrators from bragging and bragging and bragging as if these laptops had turned everyone into a genius child. (Rather than just being one more distraction.)

... If we want to fix up our schools, we should start by reviewing our crufty old educational plan that hasn't been revised for decades and basically ignores all major research on how people learn. Once we have a new plan, we can go about figuring out how to implement it. I'm sure that computers will be the best way to implement some details of the plan, but they should be used only for those things, and if it turns out that there's a better way to do something else (lectures, for example, are almost guaranteed to suck if PowerPoint is involved), then they should be avoided.

But stuff like the OLPC program seem to work from the assumption that computers are this magic bullet that will instantly improve education — through some hand-wavy magic computron field, maybe?

Reality Master 101 asks for a link to positive results mentioned by theCat, writing

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.

Reader loquacious d offers the disclaimer that he is "currently contracting with several Alaskan organizations in the area of education technology," along with a defense of encouraging computers in schools:

One neat thing about technology in schools is that it lets you do completely new kinds of schoolwork. A new kind of project that many of my English-teaching acquaintances are starting to like is the fake-novel-movie-adaptation-trailer, or artsy-literature-inspired-music-video. Going outside the bounds of the traditional two-page book report or reading journal really helps students think differently and more deeply about the subject (especially for students not compatible with the text-based U.S. school system). Film also really lends itself to literary tropes like symbolism, foreshadowing, and irony. This kind of thinking is just not possible (or at least very difficult) without prevalent access to technology. I've heard anecdotally that music students love GarageBand for recording state honor band/choir audition tapes, or just for practicing in general (recording yourself is notoriously one of the best ways to figure out all the myriad ways you suck). And the sheer amount of good information and media available on the internet is rapidly rivaling even the best-equipped public school libraries.

Obviously the $100 laptop isn't going to be a great video editing machine (though, if you can do it on an Amiga [wikipedia.org]...), but even the basic functions of word processing and Internet capability (the Wikipedia, for chrissake! how great would the world be if everyone had the Wikipedia?) have the capability to dramatically improve the baseline quality of education for developing populations.

In a separate thread, reader Angst Badger was broadly skeptical of the educational value of computers in the classroom, but did spot a few exceptions:

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.

Readers debated at length the difference between the use of laptops in education in poor countries compared to rich ones; one argument, as phrased by reader xzvf, is that Industrial Countries have Textbooks:
Industrial countries have and can pay for nearly new textbooks to give to each child. Most parents in industrialized countries have computers their children can use. OLPC replaces books and gives the entire family access to information.
To another reader's question about "the pedagogical use for notebooks in class," twofidyKidd jokingly offered "two words": Sex Ed.

That, according to Capt'n Hector, isn't funny.

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

Which may be one of the reasons countries reject these laptops. Regressive ideologies, particularly the ones that think women are only good for babies tend to reject that kind of knowledge.

Many comments focused on the seeming incongruity of providing high-technology in the form of laptop computers rather than what is conventionally described as "humanitarian aid" to countries plagued by more immediate problems, such as extreme poverty. StefanJ says these are not mutually exclusive:
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.

Reader Senzei also chides as simplistic the argument that computers aren't appropriate until more basic issues are resolved:
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...
pherthyl addresses one of the , writing
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 dependent 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.

Reader Whiney Mac Fanboy distinguishes good aid from bad, writing

Depends on how its done. Aid agencies such as Oxfam have recognised this for a while — and rather than importing food to troubled areas, try to either give locals money to buy food or buy from local farmers.

Government agencies don't particularly like that however, as they'd rather spend their aid budget within their own country, helping their own farmers (its amazing how much of the average first-world nation's "aid" budget will be spent within that country).

Finally, Lemmy Caution offers a note of caution that probably applies to any computers-in-classrooms project, but in particular ones along the lines of the OLPC project, which aim to increase educational opportunities by spreading technology through charitable and other low-cost measures to the developing world:
[N]ot all markets work the same: housing is sui generis (particularly when it is land and location that is the cost-driver.)

Also, education is not a panacea. You can over-educate a population past its economic opportunities and create a variety of problems, from the wide-scale loss of the best-and-brightest to other countries, to a population of resentful, overeducated people who are only able to find jobs in the lower ranks of the agricultural and industrial sectors (this is much of what happened in parts of Latin America -- the Sendero Luminoso of Peru was largely officered by a generation of well-educated poor youth who found no job opportunities awaiting for them after their much-vaunted education was finished.)

England did not have the most widely educated population back when it was the richest, most powerful nation in the world. I think you might find the correlation between education and prosperity, historically, to have a number of suprises.


Many thanks to all the readers who took part in the discussion, in particular those whose comments are quoted above.

cancel ×

98 comments

Got a better idea.... (0, Flamebait)

gasmonso (929871) | more than 7 years ago | (#15793761)

How about food, shelter, and medicine for every child?

http://religiousfreaks.com/ [religiousfreaks.com]

Re:Got a better idea.... (1)

Shut the fuck up! (572058) | more than 7 years ago | (#15793784)

How about you shut the fuck up before I come through the wire and kick your ass back the stone age?

Re:Got a better idea.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15794001)

I gotta say, Mr. STFU!, that I'm a big fan of your work. Inspired, really. Keep it up. I'm serious. I'm also not the guy you're flaming, either, trying to make subtle fun of you behind an AC mask. I'm somebody else completely. Though I'm sure it's hard to tell.

Re:Got a better idea.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15794342)

tourettestguy [tourettesguy.com] ?

Re:Got a better idea.... (1, Offtopic)

ch-chuck (9622) | more than 7 years ago | (#15793795)

Even better is birth-control and responsible parents who've decided they can afford to feed and shelter a child.

Re:Got a better idea.... (2, Informative)

Homology (639438) | more than 7 years ago | (#15793919)

Even better is birth-control and responsible parents who've decided they can afford to feed and shelter a child.

Sex education in schools seems to be a taboo in USA, unless you count the religious right preaching of "no sex before marriage" as education.

Re:Got a better idea.... (1)

ch-chuck (9622) | more than 7 years ago | (#15794888)

oh really? [npr.org]

Re:Got a better idea.... (1)

Homology (639438) | more than 7 years ago | (#15794988)

Nice article that shows that sex education is a bit "limited":

And in spite of the fact that only 15 percent of Americans say they want abstinence-only sex education in the schools, 30 percent of the the principals of public middle schools and high schools where sex education is taught report that their schools teach abstinence-only

Got a better idea....Bulkier clothing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15795145)

"Sex education in schools seems to be a taboo in USA, unless you count the religious right preaching of "no sex before marriage" as education."

Right, because as everyone knows. Semen and STDS are transmitted right through clothing. The odds go down when you take all your clothes off, and get lathered up for a couple rounds of heavy breathing, and "will you respect me in the morning?"

Re:Got a better idea.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15793864)

This isn't being used where children are starving and dying en masse, retard. It's sad that this continues to get posted in every single 100$ laptop thread and people still fail to catch on.

Re:Got a better idea.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15793890)

And when they've eaten their fish for today, you can give them food, shelter, and medicine tomorrow too! That is, assuming your average American who sees the poor people on TV and calls the number on their screen will remember that the children are still there tomorrow, and that they're still poor.

Re:Got a better idea.... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15793906)

Wow, what an original and insightful idea.

Oh wait, nevermind, 900 other people have already brought it up, and it's already been debated [slashdot.org] .

Please note, I took that link directly from the front page of this article. Please read an article before posting your worthless comment, which was clearly as well thought out as putting out a fire with gasoline.

Re:Got a better idea.... (2, Insightful)

spencer1 (763965) | more than 7 years ago | (#15794588)

I think supporters of OLPC believe that it falls under "Give a man a fish, and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish ...". If you simply give aid to these countries, aid will have to be given to them year after year; however, this can be solved if they are educated to be able to provide for themselves.

Re:Got a better idea.... (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 7 years ago | (#15797673)

Give a man a fish, and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish ...
The next time I hear this saying, I am going to track down the person responsible, rip of their head and shit down their neck. And then kill them, slowly, with papercuts and cayenne pepper.

Sorry.

How about them eBook savings? (4, Interesting)

A nonymous Coward (7548) | more than 7 years ago | (#15794638)

One of the benefits of the cheap laptop is that textbooks are cheaper and easier to distribute, thus saving enough money to pay for the laptops. Plus you get up to date texts, and in your own language, especially if you write them yourself, which would mean no royalties from your foreign currency reserve. And the kids can take them home with them easier than lugging pounds of real books.

Re:How about them eBook savings? (1)

NineNine (235196) | more than 7 years ago | (#15796221)

I have never, ever, known a single person that has read even part of a book on a computer. Nobody. The market for eBooks flopped because people simply won't read books on a computer for lots of reasons... it's hundreds of times more expensive, it's many magnitudes more complicated, it gives most people a headache to stare at a monitor for hours on end, it uses a ton more energy... do I have to go on?

Yes, please do. (1)

A nonymous Coward (7548) | more than 7 years ago | (#15796949)

We are talking about kids learning to read who have no access to ANY physical books, and the cost of getting physical textbooks to them is so prohibitive that they might get one book per school, and that will be a donated book from the first world, inappropriate, out of date, and in a language they can't read, but maybe they will be lucky to have a teacher who can read and translate some of it.

This has nothing to do with novels to read while commuting or lying in a hammock. Thsi has everything to do with kids who have NO book access period.

Re:Got a better idea.... (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 7 years ago | (#15794700)

India is not a stone age country. They have a stable elected government, a transport infrastructure, cars, paved roads, cities, a software industry, and even a pharmecutical industry. Poverty is a problem, but they don't really need substantial help to survive. They need help to develop.

How about... (1)

RagingFuryBlack (956453) | more than 7 years ago | (#15793771)

...a help-desk job for every child! Wait, they have that already!

Oookayyy... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15793850)

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

Put aside that they're not going to be making these at the $100 point for the foreseeable ever...

So you idiots think that India isn't ordering these under pressure from Microsoft, but Nigeria, where the son of the president/dictator works for Microsoft, *is* ordering a million of them?

Re:Oookayyy... (1)

s_p_oneil (795792) | more than 7 years ago | (#15794547)

That's just great. So now we'll get a million times more emails from Nigerian oil tycoons, princes, etc. asking for help in smuggling their money out of the country? I'm still waiting for the payoff from the last one I sent money to. (Yes, that was a joke. ;-)

Save a billion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15793858)

Why not save a billion or more and load Linux w. OpenOffice? Say it was only $250 per PC to load with OS and Office, thats only 4 million PCs to spend a billion and you haven't got the hardware yet.

Re:Save a billion (1)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 7 years ago | (#15794089)

Tha laptop is using Linux (and I believe open office).

Re:Save a billion (1)

megabyte405 (608258) | more than 7 years ago | (#15794424)

Actually Linux, a custom interface known as Sugar, and AbiWord - www.abisource.com - a specially-customized OLPC version is being worked on right now.

I think the benefit depends (4, Insightful)

capedgirardeau (531367) | more than 7 years ago | (#15793880)

Something I waited to see if it got mentioned last time around but I never saw it come up was this:

If there is an existing infrastructure for education, buildings, teachers, books, pencils, paper, etc. then it might make more sense to focus on those traditional things rather than blindly say that computers in the classroom are a good thing and throw money at them.

However, the target for these $100 laptops are places where there is no infrastructure, no books, no classrooms, nothing. Now when starting from scratch like that I think you get more benefit from every child having a laptop right off the bat than from trying to build up the more traditional type of educational system like we have in more developed contries.

It is sort of like saying that countries should have to build out traditional analog phone line systems rather than start out with cell phone systems which are so much less physical infrastructure intensive. That doesn't make sense, why force them to build the type of thing we are moving away from just for the sake of making them do it they way we did.

Also, I haven't heard anyone mention what I read was one of the more off beat benefits of the $100 laptops:

The provided light for the whole hut at night. I am not joking, when asking for feed back from the parents of children who were testing the idea, the parents said they thought it was great because it was by far the brightest light they had at night.

I think your answer shows how dumb you are (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15796831)

However, the target for these $100 laptops are places where there is no infrastructure, no books, no classrooms, nothing. Now when starting from scratch like that I think you get more benefit from every child having a laptop right off the bat than from trying to build up the more traditional type of educational system like we have in more developed contries.

You have made a great display of ignorance. $100 is the cost of laptop alone. Add to that the cost of training teachers to use a laptop with sufficient skill. Plus the cost of techincal support. Plus the hardware cost of repair and replacement in a tropical, poverty-stricken and dust-polluted environment. Plus the possibility of theft and so on. The real cost of such a program in will be much more than $100 per child. Plus the cost of electricity (yes, batteries are hard to charge in huts with no power supply). Plus the cost of internet connection. And don't forget India has hundreds of languages. so, do us a favor and ask your MIT buddy to put a laptop in every Massachussett child's lap. Once you can get that done, make sure that state of Mass. becomes the greatest US state in terms of education producing the brightest professionals and teachers in the USA. Then go around preaching how $100 laptops can help the "third world". Preach only what you have practiced.

Re:I think your answer shows how dumb you are (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15797600)

This comment just shows that you haven't read the goals of the OLPC program and how it is supposed to work. You mention the "cost of electricity", while these laptops are designed to run in places where there is no electricity. You mention the "cost of internet connection", while these laptops are designed primarily to connect to each other, not necessarily to the internet. You mention theft, repairs and so on, while these laptops are designed to be very robust and look like toys rather than general-purpose PCs. Also, creating a small industry for repairing these laptops would be a benefit for these countries rather than a loss. Please go read a bit more about OLPC before criticizing it.

Re:I think the benefit depends (1)

kabocox (199019) | more than 7 years ago | (#15798453)

The provided light for the whole hut at night. I am not joking, when asking for feed back from the parents of children who were testing the idea, the parents said they thought it was great because it was by far the brightest light they had at night.

Go study kids, I need the light!

Good grief! (4, Insightful)

Otter (3800) | more than 7 years ago | (#15793910)

Which may be one of the reasons countries reject these laptops. Regressive ideologies, particularly the ones that think women are only good for babies tend to reject that kind of knowledge.

Uh, yeah. India is run by a regressive ideology that restricts access to computers and the Internet in order to suppress feminism. You guys are obsessed with the prospect of losing your jobs to them, but as soon as they're insufficiently besotted with Linux (or insufficiently anti-Microsoft), they're Talibanistic Luddite savages.

Re:Good grief! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15794664)

Open your eyes, you egoistical Neanderthal! Did you just emerge from your shallow cave to make such ignoramus remarks!
Looks like you got your ass (job) whupped by an Indian. Ha ha. Now just imagine OLPC kicks off in India! You might as well move there, and become the so called Luddite savage!

Ever noticed India had a female PM (Indira Gandhi) a quarter century ago. Can your country knock that off? Supress feminism!!! How about suppress LIFE in your neck of the woods! Issues like Gay marraiges, woman's freedom of choice, how about IRAQ, Vietnam! Want more!

Re:Good grief! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15794936)

Try a google search for sarcasm. It may help in your understanding of the post you responded to.

Good grief!-Logic takes a dirt nap. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15795025)

Nice to see I'm not the only one bothered by what passes for insightful around here. Seriously has the poster even been exposed to these "repressive ideologies"? Or did he just hear it on some web site, or the TV? And then makes a majour leap of logic that that's why these laptops are being rejected. Maybe Martha Stewart should get him to pick stocks for her? Mr "inside scoop" and all.

Re:Good grief!-Logic takes a dirt nap. (1)

Jherek Carnelian (831679) | more than 7 years ago | (#15795739)

I married a girl from India. I have plenty of standing to say that culturally India has a long way to go.

Sure the educated elite tend to have modern values, although there are still plenty of dark undercurrents that manifest in ugly ways. But the vast majority of the population that is still gripped in poverty is also still gripped with regressive social attitudes.

As I said in a similar rebuttal:

1) How many dowries are paid each year in India?
2) How many bride burnings are there each year in India?
3) Who killed Phoolan Devi?

Come back to me when the answers are 0 and 0 and the environment that created and then saw Devi murdered is gone.

Re:Good grief!-Logic takes a dirt nap. (1)

The Cydonian (603441) | more than 7 years ago | (#15796732)

Thank you for your response. I'm sure all of your points successfully demonstrate that the Indian government is banning the free distribution of laptops to school-kids because it isn't progressive enough.

Re:Good grief!-Logic takes a dirt nap. (1)

Jherek Carnelian (831679) | more than 7 years ago | (#15800720)

I'm sure all of your points successfully demonstrate that the Indian government is banning the free distribution of laptops to school-kids because it isn't progressive enough.

If you actually had a point, you would be justified in your snideness. But clearly you are not wise enough to put 2 and 2 together. So I will spell it out:

The point is that regressive attitudes are pervasive enough that even if the educated elite at the top levels of politics think it is a good idea, they know enough to expect plenty of pushback from their constituents that they could easily decide that it is not worth the fight.

Re:Good grief!-Logic takes a dirt nap. (1)

The Cydonian (603441) | more than 7 years ago | (#15815644)

The point is that regressive attitudes are pervasive enough that even if the educated elite at the top levels of politics think it is a good idea, they know enough to expect plenty of pushback from their constituents that they could easily decide that it is not worth the fight.

There was no mention about free access to porno in the linked article. And neither is this a measure to provide free broadband, merely to provide laptops to kids.

The thing bothering me is this. In a discussion on, say, women's rights, I probably would have found much to agree with you. But as things stand, I really don't see why, or how, you could mould "laptops aren't really educational" to "laptops are evil because you can get porno". My snideness is to highlight this logical inconsistency; methinks you've put a lot of words into the educational secretary's mouth.

Re:Good grief!-Logic takes a dirt nap. (1)

Jherek Carnelian (831679) | more than 7 years ago | (#15821448)

"laptops are evil because you can get porno".

Where the hell did I say that?

Are you reading some sort of alternate universe bizzarodot?

Re:Good grief!-Logic takes a dirt nap. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15796746)

1) How many dowries are paid each year in India? :Some, but mostly voluntary

2) How many bride burnings are there each year in India? :Less than in Pakistan and Bangladesh

3) Who killed Phoolan Devi? :A bandit and murderer (the fact that she got screwed herself does not justify criminality, at least not in Indian Law, dunno about where you come from, though)

Now look at the list of famous women in history:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_famous_women_ in_history [wikipedia.org]

  and you'll see a fairly generous proportion (no pun intended) of Indian women.

  I think people like you like to bash India because you don;t have the guts to criticize countries where atrocities against women DO take place in large numbers (Afghanistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan). Why I wonder? Afraid they'll bomb you, eh?

Re:Good grief!-Logic takes a dirt nap. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15796890)

Sorry to bust your bragging about Indian women but lately, the sex ratio of the country has dropped to around 930 which implies nearly 40 million Indian women have been wiped off the planet (no, Nazis don't come close even though the colonial and post-colonial genocides by the British and Americans might): http://www.indiatogether.org/2004/apr/hlt-csratio. htm [indiatogether.org] .

Yes, many Indians from the Indian upper middle class have managed to launch themselves into US (and elsewhere in the West) and grab enough merited jobs to cause panic amongst Americans (read "racist white christian males") but the vast majority of Indians are still rotting in an unimaginably socially oppressive environment that is based on casteism and anti-women practices. As per the human development report, http://hdr.undp.org/statistics/data/indicators.cfm ?x=24&y=1&z=1 [undp.org] , almost 80% of Indians live below the US$ 2/day income level. And yes, Iran and Saudi Arabia have higher HDI than India. Not to mention India now has 5+ million AIDS cases and is only 2nd to Africa in AIDS. And did I forget to mention that in your vaunted Indian law rape within marriage is not considered a crime ( http://www.intersectworldwide.org/statistics.html [intersectworldwide.org] ). And rape is on its way up there ( http://www.indiadaily.com/editorial/2554.asp [indiadaily.com] ). Need I go on?

BTW, your "voluntary dowry" phrase made me laugh! Just shows that an entire society (including the "educated" elite) has succumbed to the social evil instead of fighting it.

Re:Good grief!-Logic takes a dirt nap. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15797317)

"And yes, Iran and Saudi Arabia have higher HDI than India"

Yes, well. If they didn't have all that oil to sit on they'd be as poor as Lesotho, feudal dumps that they are socially. AT least the Indian STATE does not sanction stoning women to death or chopping their hands off. The actions of people notwithstanding.

"but the vast majority of Indians are still rotting in an unimaginably socially oppressive environment that is based on casteism and anti-women practices"

Well, presumably you're a Pakistani troll , a self-hating Indian, or some left wing liberal buffoon so obsessed with hating India that you had to take time away from whatever little life you had to look at obscure websites. I never denied that women were treated badly in many parts of the country.

However, let's not talk about Pakistan's many honor killings:
http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/engASA3301819 99 [amnesty.org]

or these ladies who have a thing or two to say about treatment of women in another muslim country of ill repute:
http://www.rawa.org/ [rawa.org]

"And did I forget to mention that in your vaunted Indian law rape within marriage is not considered a crime"

More quote mining from an inbred troll. Quote INDIAN PENAL LAW from a credible source that says that rape is allowed, then talk my friend (or do you prefer Janaab?)...

"almost 80% of Indians live below the US$ 2/day income level"

You can get a lot of food in India for $2, my friend. Too bad that you may have to survive on hamburgers that make you as fat as Michael Moore.

"BTW, your "voluntary dowry" phrase made me laugh! Just shows that an entire society (including the "educated" elite) has succumbed to the social evil instead of fighting it"

Too bad you can't quote any reliable stats to back up your screed against India.Forced dowry sucks, but basic dowry customs are meant for providing a financial boost to the bride and groom, so nothing wrong with it. It's only a problem when the in-laws decide to pocket the money and make the bride suffer. There are laws in India that arrest the entire family of the groom when such a thing is reported in an FIR. We have gone a long way to curb this issue, and no idiot slashdot troll can change that as part of some hate-propaganda campain (as though slashdot is the place for such things). Go troll in a Paki forum, they'll like you there.

Here, I'll help you. You can try using wonderful choice phrases: 'nigger','dothead','Indian hindu chutyia haraami','Indian bastard','deserves to be ethnically cleansed','animals','urine drinkers','no dogs or Indians allowed' and , let's see. What else can we think up to get a hater started ...?

For generations, people have not been able to digest their food without housting a few drinks and attacking Indians on the streets. gave life meaning to so many of them...

Enjoy yourself. At this point most of us are too busy doing things to care if a few fringe elements hate us.
 

Re:Good grief!-Logic takes a dirt nap. (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 7 years ago | (#15797795)

Rapes (per capita) US: 0.301318 per 1,000 , India 0.0143187 per 1,000 people (http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/cri_rap_percap- crime-rapes-per-capita) Murders (per capita) US: 0.042802 per 1,000, India 0.0344083 per 1,000 people (http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/cri_mur_percap- crime-murders-per-capita) Hmmm, which is the regressive country?

Re:Good grief!-Logic takes a dirt nap. (1)

XchristX (839963) | more than 7 years ago | (#15798076)

Well no sane person is trying to compare India to the US. That would be ridiculous. Compared to the US, even Ireland (a relatively developed country otherwise) is a bona fide dump. That's a loaded comparison. Compared to other third world countries, we are generally much more progressive.

  It's just that you don't HEAR much about the goings on in most third world countries due to repressive governments, suppressed and non-free news media, jingoistic propaganda etc.

  We have the immense burden of being one of few third world democracies, where all information (even the dirty laundry) is exposed for all the world to see. The media hates the government, the people curse the government and relect new people. All the corruption makes it to the headline news by the end of business etc.

  That is why you see the poverty in India splashed all over the news, and yet the greater poverty of a semi-theocratic dictatorial pseudo-democracy like Pakistan is ignored...

Out Gini index is comparable to many European nations:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/bd /World_Map_Gini_coefficient.png [wikimedia.org]

  I'm assuming you didn't go to one of your famous American public schools and can actually find India on a map. You will see that it has the same shade as most European countries:

  List of some countries (with India in it) ranked by Gini index (bear in mind that lower gini index is better)

29 Bulgaria 31.9
30 Kazakhstan 32.3
31 Spain 32.5
32 India 32.5
33 Tajikistan 32.6
34 France 32.7
35 Pakistan 33

  There are many other criteria one needs to judge the full economic state of a country. However, our H.D.I stinks ass. Though I suspect that someone like you would continue to hate us even if we eliminated all poverty from our country, put computers in every household and built freeways from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. Oh well...

Re:Good grief!-Logic takes a dirt nap. (1)

Jherek Carnelian (831679) | more than 7 years ago | (#15801670)

the greater poverty of a semi-theocratic dictatorial pseudo-democracy like Pakistan is ignored...

List of some countries (with India in it) ranked by Gini index (bear in mind that lower gini index is better)

India 32.5
Pakistan 33

Looks like the Gini Index has a flaw if the "greater poverty" of Pakistan is only a half-point worse. Not that it matters, since Pakistan's problems regarding repression of women are Pakistan's problems, not India's. The question at hand is simply, is India's society regressive towards women - not is India better than Pakistan.

For the other guy reporting crime statistics and asking which is the more regressive country - India or the USA? Did you read the note on nationmaster about the true relevance of their crime stats? I bet you didn't, because it completely undermines your implication. Heck, it actually reverses your implication. Here I'll quote it for you:

Crime statistics are often better indicators of prevalence of law enforcement and willingness to report crime, than actual prevalence.

Unsurprisingly, India has the 2nd lowest number of police per capita of any reported country.

So, let's look at some numbers that are less likely to be distorted and are actual comparisons between male and female treatment by society as a whole. I'm gonna throw in the USA numbers as a baseline, just in case the lack of gender EQUALITY isn't clear.

Male/Female ratio of Secondary school enrollment:
India: 60/40
USA: 51/49

Male/Female Adult literacy rates:
India: 70% / 48%
USA: 97% / 97%

Primary School drop out rates for females
India: 39% (rank 31)
USA: 1% (rank 96)
(numbers for males unavailable at the site)

Male/Female ratio of mortality age 1-5
India: 41% / 58%
USA: 50% / 50%

I didn't even have to cherry pick those numbers, unlike your (a) irrelevant and (b) backfired attempt.

Re:Good grief!-Logic takes a dirt nap. (1)

XchristX (839963) | more than 7 years ago | (#15802558)

I reiterate my claim that to compare India with a country like the USA is loaded and unjustified. Most countries in the world stack up poorly in front of the US in such matters, even otherwise developed countries.

  The fact is that most people who tout these comparisons are doing so not out of genuine interest or concern for our problems, but in a concerted attack of defamation because they regard our race as inferior to theirs.

  Criticizing our problems as a measure to put our many achievements in the correct perspective is one thing, and laudable. Fact mining incomparable statistics as a veiled ethnic attack on India and Indians is another thing altogether.

  Comparison with the USA is valid only if India is declared as comparable to the USA, and anybody who does that should be strapped into a straighjacket and put in a room with rubber walls for the remainder of his natural life...

  A more realistic comparison would be between India and countries in a similar predicament, like Guatemala, Pakistan, Bangladesh, some of the newly formed east European countries etc.

  Like I said, some people would continue to tout baseless India/USA comparisons even if we eliminate poverty altogether and turn all our women into hairy-armed feminists, Kiran Bedis ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kiran_Bedi [wikipedia.org] ) and Laxmibais ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rani_Laxmibai [wikipedia.org] )

Re:Good grief!-Logic takes a dirt nap. (1)

Jherek Carnelian (831679) | more than 7 years ago | (#15802653)

reiterate my claim that to compare India with a country like the USA is loaded and unjustified.

Then ignore each line of stats that says USA - that was for the guy who started with the USA comparisons. Concentrate on the part of each India line that applies to males and then the part that applies to females.

That is the ONLY comparison that matters when answering the question - "Is Indian society regressive towards women?"

When you accept that the answer is "yes," -- not "foo is worse" -- then you have arrived at the truth that started this entire thread.

Re:Good grief!-Logic takes a dirt nap. (1)

XchristX (839963) | more than 7 years ago | (#15802779)

"Is Indian society regressive towards women?"

Generally, YES, it is. However, one must qualify that, unlike some other countries, there is widespread criticism and condemnation of this problem in INDIA itself (Google on the internet for women's advocacy groups of Indian women, government sponsored emancipation programmes etc.) that have made noteworthy progress in this regard. Bear in mind that it is in the best interest of all political parties to get the women educated and up-and-running so that they can vote for the buggers.

The situation with women in India has improved markedly since 1947 (independence) when most people did not even entertain the idea of giving women the ability to read, let alone join the military (except Subhash Bose himself), or have jobs or careers of any kind.

This was once true all over the subcontinent in all classes and all communities. Today, the situation with women has improved markedly in urban areas and such. The rural areas (the majority in India) are still quite behind. A country of over a billion people with a 5000 year old civilization that has been raped and enslaved by European colonialism will not be so pliable and amenable to change, or to modern ideas and values coming (for the most part) from the erstwhile colonialists themselves. But, there is sufficient motivation and determination in India to make it happen as soon as feasable.

Re:Good grief!-Logic takes a dirt nap. (1)

XchristX (839963) | more than 7 years ago | (#15798113)

Crap. I'm a total fool. I should have RTFP'ed your post before shooting my stupid-ass mouth off like that. My apologies. I just get a bit sensitive at times and haven't slept in a while...

Re:Good grief!-Logic takes a dirt nap. (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 7 years ago | (#15798207)

No problem. I found your stats on the Gini index very interesting.

Re:Good grief!-Logic takes a dirt nap. (1)

Jherek Carnelian (831679) | more than 7 years ago | (#15800964)

1) How many dowries are paid each year in India? :Some, but mostly voluntary

Voluntary? Get a grip. People don't "voluntarily" pay dowries, it is purely social pressure. You know, from a regressive society.

2) How many bride burnings are there each year in India? :Less than in Pakistan and Bangladesh

And orders of magnitude more than in any 1st world country. This discussion is not about Pakistan, Bangladesh or Antarctica. Do NOT even try to excuse such behaviour by saying others are worse.

3) Who killed Phoolan Devi? :A bandit and murderer (the fact that she got screwed herself does not justify criminality, at least not in Indian Law, dunno about where you come from, though)

You've done a poor job of sidestepping the issue -- the environment that created Devi and then killed her. An environment which persists in mistreating women at every stage of their lives. Please address the issue at hand or keep your mouth shut.

fairly generous proportion (no pun intended) of Indian women.

None of those women are from the lower castes. I don't think any of them could even claim to be "middle class." None of them would have come anywhere near qualifying for an OLPC. Its the attitudes of the vast numbers of the poor that are the issue here - they are the communities that would receive the OLPCs and they are the communities that are likely to reject it for upsetting the status quo.

think people like you like to bash India because you don;t have the guts to criticize countries where atrocities against women DO take place in large numbers

Bite me. I don't make excuses for America's problems by saying India is worse, so why don't you stop with trying to excuse the problems in India by saying other countries are worse.

Re:Good grief! (1)

jc42 (318812) | more than 7 years ago | (#15795179)

Uh, yeah. India is run by a regressive ideology that restricts access to computers and the Internet in order to suppress feminism.

Back in the 1970s, I read about an interesting social experiment that was done in India. The experimenters picked a number of villages at random, and made arrangements to supply the local clinic with various kinds of birth-control methods at a reasonable price. Then they started watching the vital statistics.

A year or so later, they reported that 9 months after the experiment started, the birth rate dropped to nearly zero in all of the villages.

An interesting followup they reported was that they were curious about the well-known attitude in India that it was good to have many children. When they asked the women in these villages, they found that the actually attitude was subtly different: Most said that it was good for other people to have many children.

I've read a number of other observations that birth control is easily available in a lot of India, but totally unavailable in other parts. The availability is strongly correlated with the political power of the local religious leaders, as it is in much of the rest of the world.

I wonder if that birth-control study's report is still available somewhere? There was a followup report from people in India that they couldn't find it in any of their academic libraries.

Re:Good grief! (1)

Jherek Carnelian (831679) | more than 7 years ago | (#15795784)

I've read a number of other observations that birth control is easily available in a lot of India, but totally unavailable in other parts. The availability is strongly correlated with the political power of the local religious leaders, as it is in much of the rest of the world.

I admit this is hearsay, but at least I've heard it a couple of times. In the Philippines, probably the strongest bastion of catholicism left in the world, there are no condom factories. This is also a country where families regularly have 5-6 kids and are so dirt poor that the girls often have to go to the cities and work as prostitutes in order to support their parents and the rest of the family back in the provinces causing Manila to have the highest proportion of prostitutes of any city in the world (more hearsay, but if they aren't #1 they gotta be closeo).

That whole cycle is just so effed up. When an arbitrary interepretation of some phrases out of a book that nobody really knows the origin of is more important than the real world suffering and pain of so many real lives I don't know of any other way to describe it besides "Evil."

Re:Good grief! (1)

univgeek (442857) | more than 7 years ago | (#15796552)

Very interesting. Please post some link or reference please.

Re:Good grief! (1)

tinker_taylor (618697) | more than 7 years ago | (#15799569)

In most schools that are either privately run or run by the Central government (there are two types of schools -- those that are governed by a Central/Federal govt. run Syllabus and education methodology, and those that are run by State govts and their idea on Education). Most of the schools affiliated to the Central Syllabi are already affluent and have full-fledged Computer laboratories where all students get to learn the basics of computing -- including learning set theory, algorithms and logic from the 5th or 6th grade.

In many of the State run schools, the education quality was much inferior to the Central schools, but they had sufficient funds to have Computer training programs as well (I don't know how things are currently).

Both these categories don't really need the 100$ laptops/child because the kids already get a reasonably sound education all-round.

The schools that might benefit from this scheme are infact (like many have mentioned here) Municipal schools (kinda like a derelict indian version of Public school system of the US) and very often are impoverished to a level where basic education becomes a problem. More so, in the remoter parts of rural India. The best solution in these cases is to revert back to Traditional schooling methods (which were forcibly shutdown by the British during Colonial rule) -- where teaching and learning was a community effort. First one has to "letter" a child before giving him/her a laptop to work on.

Moreover, astonishing as it may sound, many villages in India don't even have proper roadways, electricity etc available. What's the 100$ laptop going to be powered on? Cow-dung cakes?!? That's what a lot of poor people use as fuel.

The Indian government did what is right -- they are/must focus on getting Infrastructure problems fixed first. Once that is in place, everything else will automatically fall in line.

Re:Good grief! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15803380)

Moreover, astonishing as it may sound, many villages in India don't even have proper roadways, electricity etc available. What's the 100$ laptop going to be powered on? Cow-dung cakes?

Your question reveals that you are 100% ignorant of the OLPC program. You really should shut your yap until after you've read up on it, because with one smug but blazingly ignorant comment you have discredited everything else you've written.

If you want to be taken seriously, you gotta at least get the basics right. However, if you don't want to be taken seriously, go set up a myspace account instead of posting here.

Re:Good grief! (1)

tinker_taylor (618697) | more than 7 years ago | (#15814301)

My my! What a response? When you cannot counter anything about what has been originally posted, squirts like you will resort to name calling!
Obviously no one taught you manners ya squirt!

priorities (1)

WinEveryGame (978424) | more than 7 years ago | (#15793920)

yeah, clean water for every child is more important and urgent than a laptop. Any surprise?

OLPC work is worthwhile (2, Interesting)

Tet (2721) | more than 7 years ago | (#15793940)

I'm personally unconvinced about the whole idea of OLPC. However, I hope the project succeeds for completely unrelated reasons. OLPC is prompting a whole raft of work aimed at slimming down the Linux userland, in order to make it usable on the modest hardware available. That can only be a good thing, given the recent trend towards bloat.

Nigeria's purchase of 1 million of these: (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15793974)

Dir sir,

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CRANK CRANK CRANK CRANK

I need to transfer a large sum of money out of my country to a foreign account requiring maximum confidence

CRANK CRANK CRANK CRANK

Here is my proposition....

Re:Nigeria's purchase of 1 million of these: (1)

indifferent children (842621) | more than 7 years ago | (#15797587)

... I will send you $100M USD, to buy laptops for Nigerian children, if you kindly send me $5,000 USD to assist with transaction fees.

My Mom Was A Public School Teacher (5, Insightful)

LaNMaN2000 (173615) | more than 7 years ago | (#15793989)

My Mom was a public school teacher for 13 years and very quickly discovered that the problem with our educational system was not the lack of technology. As a math teacher, she saw that many students relied on their (graphing) calculators to do even simple arithmetic as a result. The main problems she saw in low income parts of the county were lack of parental involvement, peer pressure not to do well in school (particularly when she taught poorer students), and a lack of ambition or motivation. When she taught in a higher income part of the county, she felt that many parents would push too hard for their kids to be honors classes, where they performed poorly and diminished the quality of education for other students.

In short, the problems afflicting the education system, in the U.S. at least, are social not technological. Presumably, elsewhere in the world, this is the case, as well.

Re:My Mom Was A Public School Teacher (1, Flamebait)

pete6677 (681676) | more than 7 years ago | (#15794041)

I totally agree. Lets not forget another leading reason for academic mediocrity: teachers unions. They are only in favor of "reforms" that put money in the union's pocket. Overall, they prefer to keep the schools shitty since they can use poor student performance as an argument for "more educational funding", nevermind that historically schools have NOT gotten better as more money is thrown at them. Get rid of teacher unions, cut the school budgets, and maybe then some real progress can be made.

Re:My Mom Was A Public School Teacher (3, Insightful)

saforrest (184929) | more than 7 years ago | (#15794180)

Get rid of teacher unions, cut the school budgets, and maybe then some real progress can be made.

What the hell? I mean, sure there are bloated unions, but the idea that removing unions entirely and cutting money to schools would somehow improve the educational system is so obviously ludicrous it shouldn't need to be said.

Unions need to be kept in line, sure. But so does management.

Re:My Mom Was A Public School Teacher (1)

TheShadow (76709) | more than 7 years ago | (#15794474)

The real problem is that government runs the schools. And as we all know, government usually finds a way to fsck everything up.

I'm in favor of publically funded, but privately owned and operated schools. Let parents choose what schools their kids go to and let the public funds follow them. We'll see how fast underperforming schools shape up when there is profit motive.

Re:My Mom Was A Public School Teacher (1)

kamapuaa (555446) | more than 7 years ago | (#15797414)

Private schooling and profit-motivated schools just doesn't work well with a meritocracy. There's plenty of examples throughout the world. When having rich parents is a requirement for going through a decent school, Social Darwinism just doesn't happen. It's a basic American value and a fundamental trait to Capitalism - Adam Smith thought the only two responsibilities of a Federal government were a Navy and a public school system. He didn't even think standing armies were necessary, in a time of worldwide warfare with neigboring France.

Re:My Mom Was A Public School Teacher (1)

TheShadow (76709) | more than 7 years ago | (#15820276)

You obviously didn't read my post and immediately jumped to conclusions.

It's a shame that people automatically shun any idea that doesn't involve throwing more money at failing schools. If a restaurant continues to serve food that tastes terrible, people will stop going and it will eventually go out of business. However, schools that continually fail to perform just get more and more public funding and little or no change in management (for lack of better term).

I believe schools should be publically funded. I also believe that parents should be able to choose to send their child to a better school if one is available. Why these two ideas cannot exist together is extremely puzzling to me.

increasing money to schools... (1)

zogger (617870) | more than 7 years ago | (#15794565)

...could be accomplished by abolishing the federal department of education. It isn't needed at all, it's a huge money pit (along with several other federal agencies)that uses a ton of the cash just to run their own bureaucracy, then engages in social engineering to dole out part of the money back to the states. It is a relatively historically recent invention, and we could just call it a flawed experiment and move on.

As to unions and management, etc, union workers only do what management tells them to do. Look at Detroit-is it the unions fault that GM and Ford were so slow out of the blocks to get decent built affordable high mileage per gallon vehicles out there? Nope. Why didn't they come out with hybrids first? And etc. Folks bash unions for management/stock holders decisions all the time. Now I have been in a couple of unions and will be the first to say there are a lot of problems, but designing and trying to market products that are over priced, under built, and always 5 years behind the trends with a fixation on bling and curb feelers and fins is not the unions fault-ever. Yet-they get the blame all the time. Doesn't compute. Of course unions want the best possible deal they can get vis a vis pay, etc, that' the job of the union, project a united front for negotiations. Management in industry does this as well, they just aren't called unions, they are called country club golf courses with the good ole boy skull and bones networking, and industry associations.

In the local schools, a lot of problems could be avoided if parents just took a more pro active role in the local school board and in local politics with property taxes, etc.. Snooze ya lose there. People need to prioritize better. That's why I see home schooling taking off so much, some people realise quite readily there isn't much to do with bucking the entire system from the feds on down, so they just suck it up and homeschool if they really care. I know if I was in that situation now, trying to put small children through school, they would be home schooled for the most part.

Re:My Mom Was A Public School Teacher (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15794184)

If you hadn't checked, many parts of the world wish the had the education resources of the U.S. Just because your resources have been more than adequate, it does not mean it is true elsewhere.

Also, you are ignoring the fact that the laptop would provide a means of communication, a substitute for textbooks, and take away the need for pencils and paper. Things that many simply wouldn't have otherwise.

Re:My Mom Was A Public School Teacher (1)

RoffleTheWaffle (916980) | more than 7 years ago | (#15794469)

Agreed. Having gone to a public school, I can safely say that lack of motivation, the absence of parental involvement, or overbearing parental involvement will drive any student to the bottom of the class pretty quickly. (That, or to the bottom of a bottle. Do you ever wonder why so many jocks become alcoholics? It's not because they're having a good time. Not that I actually pitied the jerks, but it's not like anyone with half a brain couldn't see that they were miserable from being pushed too hard by their parents, coaches, and peers.)

I knew a lot of 'dumb' kids who didn't do well in class. These are the kind of people you'd expect to be total losers and not know a thing in the whole damn world, and with some of them, that was the case. On the other hand, you would just as frequently encounter the other extreme - kids who could easily be at the top of their classes if they saw any reason to perform. Many of these kids came from broken homes, had little to no parental involvement or supervision, and usually had few to no dreams or ambitions in life. Their reason for going to school was to get the very same diploma the genius-kids got, which they could do just by skimming along the bottom of the ranks in class while putting forth only minimal effort. (A 'D' average is still passable in my school system, and not very difficult to achieve. It's the path of least resistance.)

There are a whole slew of common social and psychological problems affecting today's youth, much of it stemming from experiences at home. If you want to see the single biggest reason our educational system is falling behind, you need only go as far as your own neighborhood. The disintegration of the family unit is the biggest problem of all. A laptop can't replace your parents.

Re:My Mom Was A Public School Teacher (4, Insightful)

vertinox (846076) | more than 7 years ago | (#15795142)

As a math teacher, she saw that many students relied on their (graphing) calculators to do even simple arithmetic as a result.

Depends... As one person said:

"Never memorize anything that you can look up." -Albert Einstin

Depends on how basic that math is and if you will always have access to do that calculator. If I need to find out if my $20 dollars is enough to by eggs, milk, and a six pack of beer I should be able to do that in my head.

However, if I need to calculate the velocity and trajectory of a swallow travling at two knots after being hit the 747 traveling at 258 mphs... I should get better tools.

Truth is... Its not memorization that makes man great, but the ability to utilize his tools. Without Google and Wikipedia, most of us would be nothing... But the same could be said if tomorrow we woke up with electricty, running water, and gasoline and were forced to live in caves.

The people that will be successful in the future will be those who can utilize those tools better than others. Sure today we don't have a TI calculator on us at all times (well most of us anyways) but someday kids will have computers implanted directly into their neural nets and the need to manually do calcuation of how much my $20 will buy in the year 2045 (well not much) will become a moot point... Because not only are they able to do it without memorization, but they can do it faster than a fellow with just a non-enchanced brain.

Same goes with a kid with a laptop and a kid without....

Re:My Mom Was A Public School Teacher (1)

Bob Cat - NYMPHS (313647) | more than 7 years ago | (#15796911)

"Never memorize anything that you can look up." -Albert Einstin

You got the quote wrong. I find that very amusing.

Memory & intelligence (1)

cprovi (989064) | more than 7 years ago | (#15798163)

Truth is... Its not memorization that makes man great, but the ability to utilize his tools.

I think the role played by memory in intelligence tends to be underestimated. After all, what good are tools if you don't remember how to use them? How else do we know how to speak without memorizing words & their meanings? Or read?

Rote memorization is not sufficient, but it is necessary to a large degree. Most intelligent people I know include a good memory among their attributes (not to mention creativity, tenacity, open-mindedness, ability to focus, ability to think logically as well as illogically when needed, ability to work hard, etc.).

If you observe kids carefully, you'll find that their minds seem to behave like tape recorders. Clearly, memorization is an important part of learning, esp. languages...

I just mention this because remembering the past seems to be a seriously underrated skill here in N. America (Canada & USA). Yet everyone depends on it.

I think it's a good thing they rejected this (1)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 7 years ago | (#15794080)

Here in America we may look down on that decision, but our schools have fallen apart precisely because we have allowed so many different distractions from the "3 Rs." I applaud the Indian schools for rejecting this because it is a decent idea in theory, but not for those who are already getting left behind by badly staffed and equipped public schools. What India needs is a competitive market for education, not cheap laptops.

What the poor countries really need are:

1) Good government that is limited, efficient and run by ethical people with enlightened liberal (as in Locke, not Marx) attitudes toward individuals and their worth.
2) Investment into their infrastructure to enable higher and longer quality of life.
3) Populations with a good, liberal education that isn't just focused on math and science.

Re:I think it's a good thing they rejected this (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 7 years ago | (#15795181)

3) Populations with a good, liberal education that isn't just focused on math and science.

Umm... No.

If you haven't been paying attention most of those 3rd world nations are getting better because they are sending their kids here to get taught in math and science.

Sorry to say... A PHD in Philosophy, Political Science, or Liberal Arts isn't going to feed your family. Sure it might do wonders for culture, but I know so many friends who are art majors who actually do other things for a living than what they went to school :(

In truth there is a shortage of Medical Doctors, Scientists, and Engineers in the States and many of these people come here to help out and in turn improve conditions for their family back at their home country.

Re:I think it's a good thing they rejected this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15795255)

...and make the companies that created the $100 laptops stop using other countries as guinea pigs...

The OLPC is something that if done here in the US could take over the market for PC makers and result in layoffs due to reduced sales here and there (HP, Gateway, Dell, Acer, etc). Or just call it shoot yourself in the foot. Now, just a theory, but why test the effects of implementing such project as the OLPC here at home and probably mess up when you can let other countries do the hard work for you??? Huh??

Not trolling or anything, but I lived in Mexico City for 18 years... I studied there and the culture is the problem, half ass teachers here and there are part of it, yes. The most outstandig problem is other students always pushing you down; bullying you because you look intelligent or smarter. Nothing new, we all know about it. We either experimented one side or the other or even both. We had computer labs, projectors, and other equipment and still people didn't have an incentive to learn for which a computer at school became nothing but a nice expensive toy. Few people make the most out of computer equipment in class if they understand what it is for and if they see a value in it. People in countries where the understanding of technology is limited will simply (perhaps) expext it to be like a money tree and expect it to bring them furtune overnight. Guess what people would think of those laptops in a few months if no noticeable change occurs? Perhaps those laptops will simply serve as lamps to brighten the huts at night as capedgirardeau pointed out?

People don't have respect for things they don't know can benefit them or they don't fear. People are not responsible because they do not know how to be responsible or what it means to be so. So how can you make such a big push with this OLPC program and expec them to respect you or the laptops as an educational tool? Will they be responsible enough to try and make the most out of them? Will they understand just how valuable the laptops are if they can't grasp exactly what they are? mmmmm....

Perhaps I am missing the point here, but I have not read about anybody adopting the OLPC program here in the US. Sorry if I missed that artcle.

Have a good one.

I hate backslash (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15794124)

I hate backslash

Re:I hate backslash (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 7 years ago | (#15797660)

I hate backslash (Score:2, Informative)
I love backslash.

Can I please be modded up for this as well?

Ta.

How to think (1)

nasch (598556) | more than 7 years ago | (#15794144)

Film also really lends itself to literary tropes like symbolism, foreshadowing, and irony. This kind of thinking is just not possible (or at least very difficult) without prevalent access to technology.
It's hard to think about symbolism, foreshadowing, and irony without access to technology? This might be the dumbest thing I've read on /., and that is really saying something.

One problem with selling it to the developed world (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 7 years ago | (#15794301)

Danzigism is one of several readers who thinks that the OLPC hardware has a brighter future if it was made available on a larger scale:
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 into providing them a good education, with good teachers and a nice working environment.

The only problem with that is you'd get a turnaround market where people in the 3rd world countries start selling their $100 laptops for more than $100.

Hell, knowing how corrupt countries like Nigeria are, if they knew they could get $150 for those laptops, someone would definitely start siphoning off part of the shipments & turning it around for cash.

Re:One problem with selling it to the developed wo (1)

vhogemann (797994) | more than 7 years ago | (#15794462)

And who would buy one from the Nigerian children?

If:

A) Every children got one for free at school

B) It's almost useless unless you're a children, or a geek

Take a look at the machine specs... Sure, if it was an average laptop, able to run Windows, MSOffice and all sort pirated applications and games some people would buy it from the children, but given the laptop specs and software it seems very unlikely.

Costs too high + info (1)

kgruscho (801766) | more than 7 years ago | (#15794545)

$100 a PC is a fortune in comparison to the amount that would be needed to ensure basic literacy.

India actually has a giangantic problem with basic literacy. Even though the country produces so many engineers and doctors, many of its people cannot read. If India could get the money to buy the laptops it would be better spent on making 1st-5th grade education universal. And at least by estimates from the 1990s, the price would be quite similar, with the five years paper and pencil education being cheaper.

(from a friend in a discussion the other day)
http://www.deeshaa.org/who-actually-paid-for-my-ed ucation [deeshaa.org]
http://www.ashanet.org/stats/PROBE.html [ashanet.org]

OLPC *IS* Incentive to Read (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15794995)

you state many people don't know how to read. this is true. why? they know how to eat, right? why did they learn to eat and not read?

the incentive was too great to ignore.

i do not think my son will have a problem reading b/c he desperately wants to be able to better understand the computer. yeah, he likes playing games on it now. but i bet you he knows what "start" is. ;-)

i guess what i'm saying is that giving kids access to computers will cause them to *want* to read, therefore, they will be more likely to read.

the incentive goes up. not as much as eating, but you get the gist.

i don't think they ever deliver a $100 laptop - that's marketing / hype nonsense. nor do i think 1 laptop per child is a good use of the program - to start, anyway.

this administrator complaining about teaching teachers how to use computers is silly. *all* teachers should know technology and, darn it, the school system should teach them!

i'm thinking this guy is enveloped in that caste nonsense and doesn't want poor, low caste people moving up - so he goes out of his way to keep them dumb.

what he should do is get the laptops for his classrooms - 1 or 2 per. the teach can hang around and learn new skills and students can use them, too. if it works - order more.

you don't even have to order them for all schools - run a stupid pilot program with 10 classrooms first. see what works and move forward.

but that makes sense, so it won't happen.

Tools != Education quality (1)

gatesvp (957062) | more than 7 years ago | (#15794633)

The basic reality is that quality of tools does not have a tight correlation with quality of education.

Higer quality tools can enable higer quality education, but only if you have quality educators. A great teacher with Paper/Pencil/Chalkboard/Books will outperform a mediocre teacher with a $30,000 multimedia classroom.

Without a quality digital textbook, the OLPC is just an over-priced paper-weight. Now, if a quality piece of educational material is created for the OLPC, then we can help teachers with better tools. But nothing here is replacing kinesthetic learning, the OLPC is not a good substitute for a little real-world experimentation.

Right now, the OLPC is just an expensive version of Paper/Pencil/Books. Until we have quality educational software, until the teacher can use the OLPC to improve feedback, customize learning and decrease learning time, this thing is just a toy.

Personally I'm amazed that anyone with the will to create such a tool as the OLPC did not have the foresight to incorporate curriculum and learning materials. We have a giant hammer with no nails and no lumber, some plan.

Excellent points but . . . (1)

StefanJ (88986) | more than 7 years ago | (#15794735)

I don't think it should be the Project's job to write the software themselves.

They should provide guidance, SDKs, maybe even funding, but the software and materials should be home grown.

For one thing, local educators will best know what their students need.

For another, this is a chance to employ the local talent.

Imagine if Nigeria and/or some NGOs started employing all those computer-literate kids who are sending out 409 letters to instead do some useful coding!

Uninformed commentors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15794693)

Reader Bastian responds to that, writing ... If we want to fix up our schools, we should start by reviewing our crufty old educational plan that hasn't been revised for decades and basically ignores all major research on how people learn. Once we have a new plan, we can go about figuring out how to implement it. I'm sure that computers will be the best way to implement some details of the plan, but they should be used only for those things, and if it turns out that there's a better way to do something else (lectures, for example, are almost guaranteed to suck if PowerPoint is involved), then they should be avoided.


I'm really getting tired of people who have no background in education, nor any training in being an educator ranting about the age old methods used in schools, how modern research is ignored, and how teachers suck. There are plenty of bad eggs in every field, but education does change, and the field does move forward. One of the things that most new teachers are trained in is Howard Gardners "Multiple Intelligence Theory" which directly deals with how people learn, and how differantly differant people learn. Modern degree programs for education majors not only cover this, but they try to teach new teachers methods that they can use to provide for the various learning styles that children have. A great many school districts are updating their curiculums to better suit the students needs, taking into account that children learn in differant ways and doing as much accomidation as possible. Currently the primary place you will see these types of actions is in K-8. High schools still teach using traditional methods though some high schools are changing. There are other difficulties with high schools and there is other research that describes why traditional methods work well for children of high school age.

Multiple Intelligence Theory is just one of many new ideas that are being actively used to create curriculum and lesson plans in schools in the U.S. I would recommend that the original commentor read up on it before assuming he knows more than the educators who are trained specifically to educate. I'm pretty sure the technical folks here on slashdot get irritated when people with no knowledge or education act like they know more than they do, we should give educators and those in other fields the same courtesy and respect that we want.

http://www.infed.org/thinkers/gardner.htm [infed.org]

Indian Giver! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15794725)

Indian giver!

tradeoffs and cultural appropriateness (1)

belmolis (702863) | more than 7 years ago | (#15794745)

Even if it were clearer than it is that providing laptops has educational advantages over not providing laptops, it still would not be clear that this would be the most effective investment of India's money. It's one thing to ask whether a well-off community in the US should provide laptops and quite another to ask the same question in India. Given limited resources, I don't find it at all difficult to believe that the rational decision in India is to invest in teachers and teacher training, textbooks, and schoolbuildings, or in school lunches and breakfasts, health care for children (its hard to learn if you're sick), adult literacy programs (in addition to other benefits, literate parents are a boon to a child's education), economic assistance to poor families so that their children don't need to work and can attend school, and so forth.

There's another issue here that I don't think anyone has mentioned. One of the stated purposes of this project is to enable kids to learn without teachers. Now, I'm all for kids learning independently, and indeed did a lot of that myself, but a program based on learning independently of teachers is likely to fail in a culture that views learning from teachers as really important, which I believe to be the case in India. There are no doubt /. readers who can tell me whether I am right or wrong about this. If parents think that it is important to learn from a teacher, they are not going to encourage their kids to use the laptops, and the society as a whole may not be supportive and may not develop materials for the kids to use. The little peasant kids that Negroponte would like to reach aren't going to study Math World and Wikipedia and the like: they're going to need materials appropriate to their age and cultural background written in their own languages. Where is all that going to come from?

Wired article on Yves Béhar (1)

!webguy2u (991523) | more than 7 years ago | (#15794870)

The August 2006 issue of Wired mentions this $100 laptop project The Laptop Crusade [wired.com] . With all of the discussion about the pros and cons of giving technology to developing countries, isn't it a huge value to give these countries an option to use the technology as they see fit for their students? Even at the current low prices of PCs, they are still out of the range of these countries. This new laptop designed by Yves takes into account the high cost of repairs and is designed to be much more resiliant than traditional laptops, making them much more affordable to maintain.

The New Math (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 7 years ago | (#15795094)

OLPC reminds me of own brief flirtation with The New Math (Tom Lehrer) [calstatela.edu] .

The academic in the university produces a theory and a textbook, a new way of teaching math, but engagement with parents and teachers is superficial at best.

"help! help! I'm being repressed!" (1)

zephc (225327) | more than 7 years ago | (#15795106)

I'm surprised no one has mentioned the caste system still deeply ingrained in modern Indian society. That may be (at least at subconscious levels) partially to blame.

Indian Govt rejects OLPCs (3, Insightful)

ken_ganti (991541) | more than 7 years ago | (#15795365)

After spending time in the higher educational system in India, I think that the Govt. of India is making a mistake. While making sure that food, clothing, potable water should be made available, in a country like India, the political reality is that these services are intentionally not provided. The impovershed are the tools of political parties and bosses that benefit from the lack of education, literacy and common sense among the masses. The masses are reduced to only understanding emotional rhetoric. They are given sachets of foot, a fifth of quarter of alcohol and a movie ticket to vote for a particular candidate. By providing computers for poor children, there is a good chance that the natural curiosity of these children can be harnessed and polished. Their parents are condemned to the working class and the future of these poor children is bleak at best. By not provided these OLPCs, the Indian government propagates the widening of the digital divide. By providing computers and efficient networking, children in the lower socioeconomic strata can virtually 'leapfrog' forward in terms of their ability to learn. By creating a more educated electorate will help the country, but hurt the current political bosses. Add information technology to the list of have not's (in addition to potable water, food, clothing, education, hope...). I welcome feedback in a civil debate...

Adult Usage (1)

PineHall (206441) | more than 7 years ago | (#15795383)

I wonder how many of these laptops will end up being used by adults for the family business? This may not be a bad thing. The parent gives the child a task of finding out how this laptop can help them in their business, or how the laptop can help them start a new business. The parent and the child will learn something about using computers and the family income will rise.

They will sell them as fast as they get them. (1)

3eastwood (991546) | more than 7 years ago | (#15795632)

I'm very surprised no one has mentioned what would really happen with these laptops. First no household on the poverty line in India is going to spend 1/4 of their annual income buying a laptop for a child to tote around, beat-up and lose or break. I know I wouldn't spend that much of my annual income for something so easily destroyed. So the government could order a bunch of them, and hand them out to the students for free or steep discount. So then what happens? Why they take them home and sell them on the street for $100, $200, maybe more. Why not make half a years income in a couple of hours. These are very large numbers of people struggling to meet the needs of basic survival. If I can sell something I got for free and cover half my families food bill for a year I know what I'm doing with the thing. I'll just tell the school I lost it and they can issue me a new one. If they bill me for it or tell me I don't get another, I can just ignore the bill or fall behind in class. India isn't going to be changing its curriculum to accomodate these new laptops so I can still learn the core material. These things will move fast. They'll end up on the street vendors stalls overnight. I don't think people are really getting the scope of the issues of poverty in India. 100s of millions of children live in abject poverty in India. They couldn't make these things fast enough to reach significant numbers of them. So the schools can't modify the curriculum to require the kids to use them. So they could only offer them in special classes for those kids who do have them. So the families will sell them and the kids will stay in the ordinary classes. Those schools where the children can afford to keep the laptops would already have computers in the home since they can be bought for $200 already. Not to mention how easy these things are going to be to steal on a regular basis.

Re:They will sell them as fast as they get them. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15796311)

100's of millions of children is an exaggeration (unless you're an India hater, in which case anything bad cooked up about India is fact). Probably more like a few dozen million children are presently in a bad way. It's a big problem, though, as is poverty in India in general (though not as bad as some other unfortunate countries in Sub-saharan Africa or even our dear friend the Islamofascist-^H^H^H^H^H^H^H-ic Pakistan). Fucking useless UPA government...
  I agree that this laptop thing is a dumb idea. The poor kids are far more likely to sell it to rich kids in the black market than actually USE them. Basic education and literacy are much more important.

Incorrect. (2, Informative)

The Cydonian (603441) | more than 7 years ago | (#15796722)

In India, there are basically two kinds of schools the high tuition, exclusive schools run by Christian Convents or rich, privately funded educational institutions, and the 'municipal' schools run by the government.

As a proud "old boy" of a government-run, "public" school, I have to strongly disagree. There are very good schools in the governmental sphere as well, just that they don't advertise that heavily in the local papers.

Re:Incorrect. (1)

XchristX (839963) | more than 7 years ago | (#15796898)

MOD PARENT UP!

Bravo. I'd pit a decent C.B.S.E (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_Board_of_Sec ondary_Education) Kendriya Vidyalaya (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kendriya_Vidyalaya) against some punk-arse private school any day. KV schools have produced some of the brightest students in India. Many of the JEE (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IIT-JEE) - high rankers ave been KV kids, and KV students with decent-to-high marks have done well in many of the best colleges. CBSE is a government syllabus and has the best maths curriculum in the country. So there!

Everybody gets one. (1)

EinZweiDrei (955497) | more than 7 years ago | (#15797517)

I came from a school that had a one-laptop-per-child initiative, and *Christ* if it just lead to obscene amounts of distracted students. When you have to sneak a comic book inside your US History text to fuck around in class, only the dedicated few will do so. When fucking around in class, though, becomes as easy and pleasurable as it is having a laptop in front of you, you end up with a classroom environment of mind-shattering counterproductivity. I know I, for one, spent my entire senior year playing online correspondence chess -- and certainly not paying attention.

Though, where this bit of anecdotal evidence fails is this: though I know from pretty-good firsthand experience that the average American student does not want to learn, and will fuck around hard when given a computer, I don't at all know whether the average Indian student, may actually have the drive to take the privelege to learn and make the most of a computer. I'm not going to pretend to have a whit of insight into India's cultural character here.

Either way, though, I really can't see where pen and paper is a worse set of learning tools than is a computer, in the end. Call me a fragile stick-in-the-mud in the path of the Wave of the Future, but ultimately I think it the quality of the teacher and not the gleam of the tool that defines the potential of a given learning situation. So, might not $100 educational subsidies per student yield better results?

$0.02

We have enough CURRY .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15797666)

source.

Signature of the Week.

Gates Foundation $$$ (1)

John Harrison (223649) | more than 7 years ago | (#15802423)

A family member now works for the Gates Foundation. In conversations with her prior to her employment there she mentioned that after the GF gave enormous amounts of money to India for combating disease that many of the government's Linux and Open Source initiatives died almost instantly. The Gates Foundation does a lot of good, but the money comes with strings attached. It is for that reason that I was very sad that Warren Buffett elected to give away his fortune through that organization.
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