OLPC: I can’t make the numbers add up

4 03 2008

I wrote before Christmas about OLPC, but didn’t properly respond to some of the comments. Here are some more thoughts:

From what I’ve read OLPC’s XO PC is a nice bit of kit that could have some educational benefits. But if it is to have any real impact on the lives of the poorest children it needs to be bought in huge numbers. The average budget per primary school pupil in the developing world is about $2. To equip every primary school student, or even a significant minority, would cost most third world countries more than their annual budget and a significant part of their GDP. Originally OLPC was asking governments to buy just 1 million units at $189 a piece. In the country I’m currently in $189 million is more than the annual education budget and more than 1% of its entire GDP. Ghana is one of West Africa’s success stories, but one million units would have put a PC in the hands of just 1 in 10 of the children younger than 18. I have seen some of the schools in northern Ghana and have friends working and teaching in them. If there is a spare $189 million floating about I’m fairly confident they could find more effective ways to spend it.

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2 responses

4 03 2008
One laptop per child « Tim in Tamale

[…] [Linked post] […]

5 03 2008
Wayan @ OLPC News

The numbers don’t add up, no matter which country you look at. We looked at Nigeria as an example. One Laptop Per Nigerian Child would be 73% of the entire national government income – before corruption.

http://www.olpcnews.com/countries/nigeria/olpc_in_nigeria_budget.html

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