OLPC Can Fight Insurgencies with XO Laptops, Not Guns

   
   
   
   
   

I have been following the current debate about sending troops to Afghanistan. I have no idea of how many troops are needed but in our rush to stop the violence, we should not forget that the basic problem is lack of education and development.

I feel we should fight insurgencies with laptops, not guns. We are spending a billion dollars per week there using guns; we could have a long lasting and positive effect with laptops for a billion per year.

OLPC has been piloting the "fighting insurgency" approach with Maureen Orth, special correspondent to Vanity Fair and wife of the late Tim Russert, on the ground in Columbia. Here's an MSNBC video:


I posted these ideas on my Facebook page but got no response. I then sent a note about it to OLPC in Afghanistan and got the following reply:

"Thanks for spreading the message of OLPC Afghanistan. First I would like to thank you for you afford in bringing peace and prosperity to the people of Afghanistan. Let me introduce me self, My name is Salim Hayran an Afghan British national currently working with the Ministry of Education in Afghanistan as the Director of ICT and I am Afghanistan OLPC project coordinator.

I am absolutely agreed with Maureen Orth, that OLPC can be used as one of the tools to fight insurgency and narcotic business in Afghanistan. Since all the current insecurity problems are due to the lack of literacy in Afghanistan.

The feedback that I have from the pilot deployment of OLPC in Afghanistan is incredible. The initial result shows that within couple months of OX laptops deployment a 15%-20% increased made by kids in term of reading, writing and analytical thinking. Therefore, lets1 work together in the world arena to mobilize funding and moral support for a massive deployment of OLPC laptops in Afghanistan."

My feeling is that when Mr. Obama asks his generals what to do in Afghanistan, he gets their knee-jerk answer to send more troops. The generals don't like to talk about nation building because it is expensive and takes decades. Laptops offer a way to help build nations at low cost. And not kill people in the process.

Sure, critics will say that laptops promote the spread of pornography. I say the results outweigh the dangers. Or that laptops will be stolen. Well, so what? They are cheap and patient teachers. Others will say that the Afghans need food, clean water, and medicine more than computers. That is true, they need it all; but with education, they are more able to help themselves.

So, if you would like to support Mr. Hayran, let Congress know. We have wasted too many lives and too much money already.

Douglas McLain, at 71 years old, is becoming a grouchy old man.

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3 Comments

OLPC is the most powerful weapon in hands of children against the war on terror

Schools in Pakistan are places of teaching (imparting instructions) and not facilitating learning. Reasons for this situation include mainly: (1) Lack of political will to commit minimum required funds to schools (2) irrelevant curriculum that does not excite the child and (3) teachers that are neither properly educated nor qualified as teachers – and have high absenteeism rates. Kids growing in this kind of schooling are left thirsty for the excitement and fun of learning. They are easily lured into extreme situations that offer to these innocent minds some "fun and excitement in killing”. We witness this today in Pakistan. Teen agers are employed as soldiers to kill and brainwashed to commit suicides as bombers.

OLPC is about learning based on the constructionist approach to learning that makes available to children toys, cartoons, pictures, musical tools etc embedded in OLPC. Once in use by a child in his/her own way, it triggers the learning potential and enables the kid to learn learning and thinking. It enables a kid to distinguish good from bad. We have heard about how schools where OLPC was deployed have been swarmed by children making attendance to an incredible 100%.

We have kids growing with a highly interactive OLPC on the one hand, and outdated schools providing instructions. The option for the government of Pakistan is to either equip these children with OLPC or leave them at the mercy of evil forces in the country. The choice should be OLPC. OLPC is the most powerful weapon in hands of children against the war on terror – guns, missiles and sophisticated military strategy cannot achieve what OLPC raised children can.
-Habib Khan

What a great idea to spread learning and technology instead of guns. How will the world view the US if they start assisting the children of the world in becoming critical and independent learners? This is real change Mr. Obama.

this is a brilliant idea that is really changing the world. I wish with the educational and pedagogical capacities that we have in our NGO www.AfghanMMCC.org we could join and be part of this movement.

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