Hey all: Well, I heard back from Ramendra on the 1% figure, and he offers his apologies. It was a typographical error in his presentation at VLSI 2009. It should have been 10%. Also, it's 179 million in the school system, vs. 189. I hope this helps clear up the matter. Thanks to all for pointing out the discrepency and I apologize for helping to propagate it. Now, that being cleared up somewhat, I still believe the $20 laptop is a dead end. But again, that's just my opinion. I'd be happy to talk about and discuss instances where OLPC brought enlightenment to a population with no teachers, no IT department and of course, no power.
Well there is nothing much to comment about a badly written article with incorrect facts. However I would suggest the author take a look at the amount of Tv,cable/satellight channels and mobile penetration in India. Even the most uneducated in India owns them or has access to one, regardless of power shortages or low bandwidth. Its good to see some private sector initiative and enterprise to solve India's education problem, rather then waiting for the government to provide it, while all the time sitting and complaining about poor education and literacy as the above article does. Whatever it is, its still worth a try. You never know if its dubious or brilliant until you get off your butts and give it a shot.
With good software, this could be useful. This is a generalization, but believe there is enough hunger for learning and getting ahead, that demand for good learning tools remains high in India.
Books would be great, too, but each one can have only limited potential - access to a library and teaching would fix that gap, but there-in lies the crux of the problem for those who fall through the system.
One would think that this gizmo can be no worse than a $40 LeapFrog "ClickStart" computer (see link- http://www.leapfrog.com/en/shop/3-5_years.html). Once good software is loaded, esp. for interaction in local languages, will likely be beneficial.
This one-laptop-per-child thing hardly seems like a good way to address education in poor areas that lack resources. Even in advanced nations, computers are at best a small improvement to the education system. How can you consider spending money to provide computers to schools that lack books, paper, and pencils? A book is inexpensive, doesn't require electric power or technical support, can be used for years, and doesn't break when you drop it.
Though I am also doubtful about $20 pricepoint and what one can expect from it, this article is pretty badly written with unfouded data and biased viewpoints. For example: on the issue of use of laptops for children, there are research material already existing in published literature which shows that you leave a child with a computer and broadband, and he/she will surprise you with what they can do with it. So though the importance of teachers can not questioned, questioning use of laptop without a qualified teacher is just looking for excuses to view the whole thing with suspicion.
Hey there: Thanks for the feedback and the good -- and good catches. Let's ignore the population figure,that was simply a typo. I meant to say 1.2 billion so I fixed that. As for the population enrolled, it does seem ludicrously low, so I'm chasing down Ramenda to see what exactly were the parameters of that estimation. Stay tuned and I'll have an answer as soon as possible. Again, thanks for following up.
Please visit http://populationcommission.nic.in/ to learn about the population before writing - it is NOT 1.8 billion.
Please visit http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/india_india_statistics.html#26 to learn about school enrollment ratios. It is NOT under 1%.
If you cannot cross-check your "facts", please write without quoting numbers. Everybody would agree if you mention that the enrollment ratio has to be improved in India. But saying that enrollment ratio is below 1% is ridiculous.