- Peru was going to signed an agreement with the MIT next July for participation on the OLPC program.
- The computers were quite affordable, at 100 USD per unit. It wasn't completely clear, but it was understood that public funds were going to be used to buy an indeterminate number of the computers for the "poorest students" of the country, with further elaboration.
- Finally, he stated that the computers are already been used in other Latin American countries, and the first 100 computers, already bought by the Peruvian government, were to be distributed for experimental purposes.
There is very little need for the readers of this site to get into the details of the glaring mistakes in our minister's statement. The presence of the Housing Minister, Hernán Garrido Lecca, a MIT alumnus and an interesting character that has been involved in minor scandals about his personal PR machine and that fancies himself as a renaissance man, may be an indication of his involvement in the decision. On the other hand, the absence of the President, Alan García, is puzzling, since he is normally the one making all the interesting announcements.
Since there is so little information about the intended course of the XO implementation in Peru, I've taken the liberty to compile a list of questions that I believe the minister should answer to public opinion and taxpayers like me. This is not an attempt to question the very nature of the OLPC project, but rather the specificity of the Peruvian decision, and the actions considered to make the project worthy of the investment. Let's say that till there is some clarification from our government, my main concern is not the philosophy of the project but exactly why it has been decided this particular course of action, from where is the money going to come, and how the implementation will affect the whole educational edifice in Peru.
Here's the list, translated by me from my blog Adversus OLPC:
- Are you aware that the XO hasn't been used anywhere in the world, and that its real usefulness is unknown?
- The XO has been built around the constructivist educational model. Are there any plans to incorporate such perspective into our educational system? Which are those plans?
- The cost of each computer, without any servers, maintenance nor support plans, is currently estimated at USD 175. Initial orders are for 250.000 units, which translates into an initial investment of USD 43.750.000. Is this amount budgeted? What is going to be left out for this investment, if anything?
- What is the estimated amount, all included, to provide all schoolchildren with an XO? What is the estimated Total Cost of Ownership? How long is it expected to work?
- Is there an implementation plan? How are we going to provide a computer to all students? How long is it going to take?
- Are there any specific groups to be prioritize? Or everyone will be provided?
- The OLPC project assumes that the computers are the property of students. What is the transfer regime? What would happen if the computer breaks down, gets stolen or simply reaches its end of life and requires to be replaced?
- Will the teachers receive a computer too?
- Will private schools be allowed to participate in the project? Will they receive the computers for free, or will they have to buy them?
- Is there any relationship between the XO computers and the Plan Huascarán (an old program, by the previous administration, sort of left to rot by the current one)?
- Who is going to be responsible for content provision for the computers? Is there a plan?
- How will the computers be integrated into bilingual educational programs (for aboriginal communities)? Is there a plan?