ONE LAPTOP PER CHILD
Researchers at the MIT Media Laboratory have developed a very $100 laptop computer—with the One Laptop per Child initiative. The initiative was put forth by MIT’s Professor Nicholas Negroponte, currently the chairman of the OLPC association.The goal of the foundation is to provide children around the world with new opportunities to explore, experiment, and express themselves. To that end, OLPC is designing a laptop, educational software, manufacturing base, and distribution system to provide children outside of the first-world with otherwise unavailable technological learning opportunities. It’s an education project, not a laptop project, says Nicholas Negroponte. The One Laptop per Child initiative wants to develop and distribute $100 laptops to poor children around the world. Despite eager observers and exciting breakthroughs technologically, it has found the path to customers more rocky than anticipated. They are proposing a new kind of school, an “expanded school” which grows well beyond the walls of the classroom. The plan is to initially distribute 5–15 million units in large-scale pilot projects in seven culturally diverse countries (China, India, Brazil, Argentina, Egypt, Nigeria, and Thailand), with 1 million units or more in each of these countries. The laptops would be marketed by the millions directly to ministries of education, which can distribute them like textbooks.Nigeria has backed after an initial order of one million computers.The laptops are both a window and a tool—a window into the world and a tool with which to think. They are a wonderful way for all children to “learn learning” through independent interaction and exploration. By using mesh networking, the vision is for children to interact while doing homework, and even share homework tips on a local community scale. The Indian Ministry of Education said the laptop was "pedagogically suspect" and that "We cannot visualize a situation for decades when we can go beyond the pilot stage. We need classrooms and teachers more urgently than fancy tools." HRD contends that spending Rs 450 crore on digital empowerment can be better spent on primary and secondary education.. The project has received criticism due to possible environmental and health impacts of hazardous materials found in computers. If you are technology-centric person, in the West you don’t think in terms of a computer replacing a teacher, but in a budget strapped developing country environment, resources are so limited, there are not enough teachers. Should PCs absorb money that could pay for additional teachers? The so-called $100 laptops for children may make it to India after all. One Laptop Per Child kept talking to Indian officials, companies and non-governmental agencies. And a pilot test began recently in which 22 children in first through fourth grades in a rural, one-room school in the Indian state.What happens when a country of the size of India has over 3 million children living on the streets? Or has over 150 million children working as bonded labourers? Or one out of every six girl child does not live to see her 15th birthday? What happens when despite having a national policy for compulsory primary education, only 50% of children have access to education? Even after 60 years of independence, half of India's children are illiterate? Despite identifying primary education as a key thrust area and possessing one of the largest networks of schools in the world?, Is it really necessary for each child to have his or her own computer? Why not share computers in community centers?