eGovernance in India

Improving eGovernance in INDIA

1 laptop per kid not feasible: education secy

Posted by egovindia on July 20, 2006

1 laptop per kid not feasible: education secy


[ THURSDAY, JULY 20, 2006 10:10:08 AM]


 NEW DELHI: Education secretary Sudeep Banerjee’s letter to his counterpart in the Planning Commission , Rajiv Ratna Shah, strongly disapproving of the ‘One Laptop Per Child’ idea — $100 each, cost to be borne by government for one million pieces — floated by MIT, had instead asked the plan panel to invest similar money for universalisation of secondary education.

Complete with technical problems pointed out by IIT, Madras, pedagogical suspicions raised by NCERT and first-hand experience of a senior HRD official, who found that the laptops have not even crossed the prototype stage, Banerjee had said OLPC “may actually be detrimental to the growth of creative and analytical abilities of the child’’ .

“Even if the idea was acceptable, 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 wrote.

The education secretary had said: “If the Planning Commission has the kind of money that would be required for this scheme, it would be appropriate to utilise it for universalisation of secondary education, for which a concept paper has been lying with the PC for approval since November 2005, and on which, we also made a presentation in the Planning Commission, presided over by the deputy chairman.’’

Considering the delay in response on universalisation of secondary education , Banerjee told Shah: “If for some reasons, the PC is reluctant to give in principle approval, we could have some formal reactions or suggestions for value additions.’’

A detailed report by a senior HRD official, who attended the OLPC workshop in Massachusetts in May, found a series of faults with the concept and strongly recommended against accepting it.


 Since the laptops are in the prototype stage, the official found that hardware and functionality testing, using open-source Linux software, is still to begin.

He also found out that due to the price of the battery and other hidden costs, the laptops might actually cost $200. It also needs to be checked and certified in real time whether the connectivity distance between the local server and these laptops would be 0.5 km or 3 km as claimed, the official noted.

Another functional problem is that these laptops cannot be upgraded without changing the motherboard , which would entail an expenditure of nearly 40% of the total cost. The maintenance of these laptops will also require a substantial investment and reserve stocks, it says.

The HRD official said an OLPClike project has already been started by an Indian company which has supplied 50,000 laptops to South Africa at $200.


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