Argentinean Debt Financing an OLPC Implementation Miracle

   
   
   
   
   

Now that Argentina has announced that it will be receiving 50 laptops now and 500 in December, it's time to revisit OLPC in Argentina by the numbers and see how the country might pay for the full one million Children's Machine XO purchase.


An Argentine Student

First, we take the conclusion of Alexander Piscitelli, General Manager of Argentina's Ministry of Education, Center of Technology and the main OLPC government counterpart, in an interview with Cecilia Bazán via a Google translation:

It would be necessary to every year buy a million, during 10 years. In addition, 850 thousand [children] enter every year to the educative system. You would have to always buy a million machines.
Then when we compare a one million annual laptop purchase to the Argentine education budget of $5.6 billion per year, we are all happy like. But if we look at the public expenditure on education minus teachers salaries, it's only $300 million. At least half of which would be required to buy computers for only 10% of the student body per year.

And now we wonder just how Argentina might afford a multi-million One Laptop Per Child purchase if its not going to be from the minuscule non-salary education budget? Nicholas Negroponte has the answer in his comments to Primició Clarín.com (via Google translation):

According to Negroponte, each laptop will cost between 130 and 150 dollars, to finance with credits of the Inter-American Development Bank (I.A.D.B.) and the World Bank.
Really now, Dr. Negroponte? Don't you mean $208, or $972 dollar laptops? Since OLPC XO's are only available in units of one million, that's a $208 million or $972 million dollar purchase price.

And wouldn't Argentina be the same country that has public debt of $118.2 billion, or 72.5% of GDP according to the World Fact Book? Doesn't Argentina owe the World Bank alone almost $3 Billion dollars in interest and charges from its last bail-out? Isn't it already borrowing $2 Billion from the IADB for other projects in 2006-07?

So how much more debt do you think Argentina should take on to buy OLPC XO's? And do you want them to spend it on your "magic"; the OLPC implementation miracle?

Before Argentina is saddled with yet more liability it can ill-afford, might it at least have the chance to conduct a limited OLPC implementation? Controlled pilot programs, tested with objective educational metrics, and employing sound pedagogical teaching structures? Best of all, in an affordable implementation, slowly scaled up to a million units over several years to refine and perfect its rollout?

Is that really too much to ask before indebting a nation's children?

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6 Comments

I think your Google translation meant to say "850 thousand children" instead of just "boys"...

Michelle,

You're correct, Google took the speakers use of the masculine plural as "boys" instead of "children".

I try not to edit Google's translatiosn though, as its a slippery slope from "oh, he means 'children'" to changing the intent of the comment.

Anyway it would be nice to have those over here free as freedom as free no-cost as kostenlos gratis for all children...
I would down beat the scalation of prices on normal PC's
cheers

hi I always thought that google translator s4cked good to have some feedback..
Anyway, to the point, I studied economy I have a degree..the fact is that the Income per Person is high and the taxes balances leave a surplus left out amount of cash.
I found the president's Kirchner opinion demagogic, it's just a show off on his kindness... (to whom.. well I don't know)
I am pretty sure that Kirchner is a windows troll :) (that might be the reason about being demagogic ?)...
anyway I don't have a master and haven't practice economy that much ...however, "stated this" the goverment could buy 1.000.000 or more, the money is there on their arks, it's stupid to settle the accounts and debts to zero because that would have a lot of sideffects.. that money will recirculate & will probably produce inflation of the currency, nobody wants that (sane economists), besides the goverment has offered to settle the debts and paid 20 billion of u$D to the bank of development of the americas.
Debts are debts, they must be full filled in time and space, otherwise they wouldn't be debts, imagine if suddendly Argentina withdraws 100 billions of dollars to the World Bank (Fondo monetario mundial).
It would just produce "null" interests overated currency... because the "stocks" would be stuck over there (bank) just producing nothing but interest.
I mean paying off everything is not feasible for any country (mmm maybe the federal bank US).
I've made boot-tux image of what I wouldn't like to see on the OLPC
http://redpenguin.tuxfamily.org/images/kirchner-tux.jpg

cheers

Hi what's the currency your are talking about u$D????,
You know because the stocks and funds of argentina are in euros or yens I really want to remark that information is very unacurate
or wrong missleading confussing every word related to wrong attitude
please check
the national center of statistics (http://www.indec.gov.ar/) I didn't quote all (sorry)
which plubished text among this books
Handbook on SNA for Transition Economies 1996
Balance of Payments Textbook
Manual on Monetary and Financial Statistics.1996
Manual on Government Finance Statistics.
Towards a Methodology for the Compilation of National Accounts, SCN l995 (Nueva York, enero l995),
http://cei.mrecic.gov.ar/pdf/com/cobil/opconue.pdf

OF COURSE ARGENTINA IS NOT SWITZERLAND

Joako,

All numbers are in USD. Please see the individual links for the respective background on their origins.

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