Friday, 4 November 2011

OLPC to Air-Drop Laptops to the World's Poorest Children | Inhabitat - Green Design Will Save the World

OLPC to Air-Drop Laptops to the World's Poorest Children | Inhabitat - Green Design Will Save the World



"One Laptop Per Child (OLPC), a non-profit that seeks to provide every child on earth with an inexpensive laptop to use as a learning tool, just announced they’ll soon be air-dropping laptops into remote villages to help children in those villages teach themselves to read."

"The...idea is based on a minimally invasive education experiment done in India that shows children have an overwhelming capacity to navigate and learn — without instruction from technology......The experiment this new venture was based on was conducted in a slum in Kalkaji, New Delhi in India by Professor Sugata Mitra. In the experiment, a computer with internet access was placed in a hole in a wall without explanation, and in under a half an hour a group of illiterate children had gathered around it, figured out how to access the internet and were navigating through multiple web pages.

In most cases, with simple initial instruction, children are left to use the laptops for learning and when checked in on at later times have advanced significantly without OLPC interference

The organization argues that with responsibility and education we can help build a new generation that is more peaceful and capable of problem solving. “Education is the long term solution to every problem,” Negroponte said. “I don’t know of any solutions that aren’t achievable without some form of education. Primary education is the most important – if you mess that up it’s a lot of work to change things for the better.”

This is one of those projects where I applauded the concept, that everyone should have the opportunity and access to educate themselves (and thus free themselves from the enduring poverty cycle) but at the same time dubious about the claims made in the article. 


A quick search of  http://one.laptop.org and   http://wiki.laptop.org didn't provide any further information about Professor Mitra experiment or define how "significantly advanced" in their education the children had become. Statistics can be tricky things.

I would have to disagree that "Education is the long term solution to every problem” I know lots of people who have had the total benefit of a "first world" education system but are truly unintelligent and additionally, have no common-sense. A lot of them are usually embedded in governmental organisations that don't require erudition, initiative or even a pulse.

“I don’t know of any solutions that aren’t achievable without some form of education. Primary education is the most important – if you mess that up it’s a lot of work to change things for the better.” Early education has been proven to improve the quality and in a lot of case the duration of children in impoverished communities in all parts of the world  A good example would 

A quick scan of the world today again specifically including those countries wherein the population has benefited from a comprehensive early education would cast doubt on this statement. Whilst a good early educational programme is  key component in positive child development there are numerous other variables that effect the eventual outcome.  Papers detailing further information can be found at -  http://smartstartga.org/_images/pdf/eec/research_brain_dev.pdf      http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0091743598902754
http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/amp/53/2/109/

Regardless, I have to commend the intentions, actions and efforts of the One Laptop organisation. They appear to be doing what no one else wants to do (big business get behind them, float some of those PR dollars their way..not just to sexy charities that make you look like good corporate citizens)  - which is to provide a solid basis of education that these children would otherwise not receive.


"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. "
Nelson Mandela


 
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