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$100 laptops for Developing Countries

By Murray Bourne, 05 Apr 2005

This is a very interesting development from MIT. It's a project to provide $100 laptop computers to school children in developing countries as an attempt to close the digital divide. (Update: the link of Apr 4, 2005 is no longer available.)

Some thoughts:

  • There will be huge pressure from the Micro$ofts and Dells of the world not to go ahead. Look at the furore from the US drug companies over bringing cheaper Canadian drugs into the US... I imagine even the fledgling Chinese computer manufacturers will not be so happy about these laptops going into China.
  • What will the kids do on these limited laptops? I imagine it will not be much - and frustrating.
  • Will the educational and technical support infrastructure be able to cope? I have great doubts.
  • What about the attitudes and skills of the teachers? Will they just leave the students to it - hoping it all goes away?
  • What about language issues? How much support will there be in this area? How many Khmer software manuals will be produced?

But all my negativity aside, it's a great idea - and it is something the US government should support rather than spending their billions attacking some of these developing countries Supporting this initiative will help the US to achieve their promised 0.7% (of GDP) budget for international aid - which they have never reached.

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