One Laptop Per Child in Sri Lanka

The article we read for class this week, The ICT4D 2.0 Manifesto: Where Next for ICTs and International Development, mentions the One Laptop Per Child programs as an example of ICT4D (pg 6).  OLPC is an example of ICT4D 2.0, because it focuses on the needs of of poor communities and takes the realities of their situations into consideration.  By distributing low-cost, low-spec, robust devices to poor communities, access to internet is more feasible.  Putting low cost laptops in schools is much more pragmatic than the telecommunication centers in rural areas (as was done during the ICT4D 1.0 phase), because it takes into consideration what people actually will use, want to use, and how they will use it.

OLPC has a blog with a lot of success stories and examples of how OLPC is improving the lives of children in developing countries, improving education, and helping us move closer to the UN Millennium Development Goal of universal education.

I think it’s important to look at critical evaluations of these programs, so that we can have a holistic understanding of the OLPC program and to learn from the successes and failures.  OLPC is an excellent idea and has seen a lot of success, but obviously there are flaws.  Check out this World Bank evaluation of  a OLPC program in Sri Lanka, here.

To learn more about OLPC check out their website blog here.

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2 responses to “One Laptop Per Child in Sri Lanka

  • gwendroff

    I think your point about the importance of looking at the critical evaluations of these programs is spot on. In the link you posted it mentioned that preliminary results from the baseline surveys show large variations in student cognition and study habits across provinces, ethnic groups, income quintiles, and parental education backgrounds. And that students in schools having at least one (school) computer showed higher learning outcomes than students in schools having no computer. Perhaps to improve this program in the future they could start by providing the schools with no computers at least one computer, then provide the students in these schools with laptops, in order to increase learning outcomes.

  • gmizrahi

    One great thing about this organization is, through looking at their FAQs, they mention the following:

    “why not a desktop computer?

    Desktops are cheaper, but mobility is important, especially with regard to taking the computer home at night. Kids in the developing world need the newest technology, especially really rugged hardware and innovative software. Recent work with schools in Maine has shown the huge value of using a laptop across all of one’s studies, as well as for play. Bringing the laptop home engages the family. In one Cambodian village where we have been working, there is no electricity, thus the laptop is, among other things, the brightest light source in the home.”

    This really shows a good effort on the part of the organization to take a grassroots approach, and see what the population needs, and then apply it to them.

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