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India rejects $100 Laptop, stupid move!

Acording to The Register, India has decided against getting involved in One Laptop Per Child scheme, which aims to provide kids in developing countries with a simple $100 machine.

The success of the project depends on support, and big orders, from governments. The loss of such a potentially huge, and relatively technically sophisticated market, will be a serious blow. The Indian Ministry of Education dismissed the laptop as "pedagogically suspect". Education Secretary Sudeep Banerjee said: "We cannot visualise a situation for decades when we can go beyond the pilot stage. We need classrooms and teachers more urgently than fancy tools."

Banerjee said if money were available it would be better spent on existing education plans. Banerjee told the Hindu: "We do not think that the idea of Prof Negroponte is mature enough to be taken seriously at this stage and no major country is presently following this. Even inside America, there is not much enthusiasm about this."

Once again we are stuck in the dilemma of the digital divide. And India s response is an interesting one, as it clearly shows that even if the technological portion of the digital divide could be bridged, there are still far more other aspects which need to be taken into account.

What good is the $100 laptop if there are no sufficient teachers, or teaching facilities? For a developing country to spend a couple of million dollars for a product which has not proven its benefits is a risky choice.

But on the other hand, for the first time, technology is easily available and should perhaps motivate and stimulate the development of education and computer literacy. And with the usage of the $100 laptop, countries can narrow down the digital divide, even if only a few schools take on this project. India s argument, to set up schooling and teaching systems first is potentially a bad strategic move, as this development will take a very long time, during which they could have had the chance to develop computer literacy and accessibility.

At least Nigeria has ordered 1 Million machines, showing great support and confidence for this project to become beneficial.

Pic by Colin Daniels

There

  1. Blogger Gregor | Friday, July 28, 2006 10:09:00 AM |  

    Here is a good argument pro India's descision. Some interesting and valid points.