One Laptop Per Child

Negreponte and his laptopThe One Laptop Per Child project is complaining that “Politics is stifling” their aims.

Apparently some governments are questioning the need for these laptops – something that OLPC is putting down to a lack of “big thinking”. My experience of working on IT projects in developing countries tells me that as clever as they are, these folk from MIT have not learnt the lessons of many who have gone before.

While the concept of equipping a school in a developing country sounds on the surface as a great idea, one thing seems constantly forgotten.

The teachers at schools are not asking for this. They are looking for basic and cheap things such as blackboards, chalk, classroom furniture and those old fashioned things called books. Electricity for lighting would be nice.

These are the things that schools in developing countries ask for. When they take delivery of unrequested laptops who takes responsibility for these. Who rewrites the curriculum to teach the basics of using these laptops. Which lessons are dropped to make time for this?

The big and bold thinking would give the people in developing countries a voice in this matter, and the boffins at MIT the humility to listen to those voices when they don’t concur with their enthusiasm for technology.

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