[Oberon] Re. OLPC - One Laptop Per Child

John Drake jmdrake_98 at yahoo.com
Fri Dec 15 00:57:30 MET 2006

--- Bob Walkden <bob at web-options.com> wrote:

> How many school age children are there in India?
> Multiply that number
> by $100- and that's how much money you're asking the
> Indian government
> to scrape up without even considering the additional
> costs of
> distribution and maintenance. This is in a country
> with 35% illiteracy
> according to the 2001 census. 

And how much money does the Indian government
spend per year per child on textbooks?  I know
a local high school that quit using textbooks
and went strictly laptops.  So you have to
factor in cost savings along with extra costs.
Also I'm sure you've heard of the term "pilot
project."  Often new technologies get "early
adopted" in certain schools to see if the
benifits outweigh the costs.  So the idea 
isn't dependant upon one country buying
laptops for every child in a single year.
> OLPC may be a noble vision, but it sounds naïve to
> me. What is their
> current budget of India for basic primary school
> education? What are
> the priorities of the Indian government in this
> respect? Basic
> literacy, basic healthcare or laptops for children?

Your zero sum analysis ignores the fact that 
laptops, used correctly, could actually HELP
with the litteracy issue.  And again it's
pilot projects.  You ignore the cost of textbooks,
the potential benifits of the laptop for aiding
in the education task, and then present of the
false choice of "fighting illiteracy versus 
laptop".  That would be like saying "why should
the neighborhood health clinic invest in a 
mammogram machine instead of spending money to
fight breast cancer?"

> India at least is a democracy. How about China? This
> is a country with
> a despicable government which for all intents and
> purposes enslaves
> its people. How much do they spend on education and
> healthcare for
> every child? What's their motivation for buying a
> laptop for every
> child?

Not everyone in China is enslaved.  With the (ill
conceived in my opinion) "one child" policy many
kids are actually being spoiled by doting parents
and grandparents.  While I'm not heralding that as
necessarily a good thing, the point is that there
are a lot of kids who's parents could easily afford
the $100.  As for motivation for the government,
China has as much motivation to invest in its 
people as anyone else.  Visit any major university
in the U.S. and look at the graduate program in
any of the sciences.  Typically many if not MOST 
of the PhD candidates will be from mainland China.
Some will stay in the U.S.  Some will go back.
China is a brutal dictatorship for sure, but they
are now a capitalist brutal dictatorship with their
eyes set firmly on having a manned presence in
space.  So if the laptop program might help
better educate their children then the Chinese
have EVERY motivation to push the idea.  Of
course any laptop sold in China will have to
have the "Great Firewall of China" preinstalled.

Finally, this will be my last post on the
"merits" of the idea.  Whether you or I or
anyone else on this lists things its a good
idea is really irrelevant.  (Unless there's
someone here who works at MIT.)  This is really
becoming a "how many angels can dance on the
head of a pin" discussion.  The idea may sell,
it may not.  But what advantage can the
Oberon community make of it?  Unless more
progress is made on LinAOS and unless some
more compelling apps are written the answer
is not much.  So I'm going to get back to
work on the app I'm developing.  Everyone
can chime in on their opinion about why
they think OLPC is a good idea, but nobody
can tell me how to get a ListGrid to display
right the first time.  Never mind.  I've
figured it out for myself.


John M. Drake

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