Thoughts on Why the OLPC is Inappropriate for India
The essential point is that even though something is technically marvellous does not imply that it is appropriate for a specific purpose or under special circumstances. My argument has been that the XO is inappropriate for India. It would be a mistake for the India to spend its limited public funds available for education in buying the XO laptop.
A depressingly large percentage of schools are so cash-strapped that they don’t even have a blackboard, to say nothing about any other facilities normally associated with schools. Of the little of financial resources available, a good proportion of it is wasted due to negligence and misappropriations.
It is a matter of sequencing. First get rid of the obvious faults of the system, taking care that the intervention is appropriate to the problem. For example, an administrative problem requires an administrative solution, not a technical or a medical solution.
One of my primary arguments against the OLPC program in India is that it is out of sequence in the sense that there are other more pressing important problems with the education system, which not only will not be helped by technology, but indeed that the diversion of resources to the OLPC will exacerbate the existing problems.
The base cost of XOs for 100 million children works out to be approximately $20 billion. That does not include recurring cost of use and ownership, such as replacement, repair, and support. That could add at least 20 percent more, or $4 billion recurring per year. That’s more than the entire public budget for education in India.