One Laptop per Child
December 19, 2006
The project to distribute one laptop per child (OLPC) in the developing world will begin next year, but there is still much debate on whether this is an effective use of poor countries’ money. The cost of the laptop is now $150. Is there a more effective way to spend $150 per student to improve education in developing countries? For example, they could spend this on health care and better nutrition. Or they could pay poor families to keep their kids, particularly girls, in school. Many desperately poor families would rather their children earn money, but this idea worked in a pilot project in Mexico some time ago. Better yet, they could increase teachers’ salaries and attract better instructors. I know in India in many poor schools the teachers are so poorly payed they don’t teach at all. Instead, they tutor after school only to those that pay a tutoring fee. It’s a scam that screws the poor again. I think there are many better ways to spend this large sum of money to improve education. Anyway, have they actually handed out laptops and measured the effect on education in a trial yet? Seems like you’d do that before blowing $1B on hardware.