The Economist on OLPC Uruguay: A Chequered Start

   
   
   
   
   

As OLPC Uruguay nears it goal of suppling XO laptops to around 400,000 school children in 2,360 state primary schools in Uruguay, The Economist has taken a look at Plan Ceibal's success over the past three years. In Laptops for all, the magazine starts off with startlingly low figures on laptop costs:


XO-topian Uruguayan future?
Each machine costs $260 (including teacher-training and connection charges) and the estimated annual maintenance cost is $21. In total, the scheme has cost less than 5% of the education budget.

Digging into these figures we find that teacher training was only 1 day which might be why the Economist found many of Uruguay's teachers struggle with the new technology. And the maintenance costs seem low when school server technology is still an issue - in 70% of primary schools only half the laptops can go online at the same time. Worse, the Economist says:

In Escuela 95, up to half of the students in some classes have broken their machines, usually by cracking the screen or snapping the antennae that pick up a Wi-Fi signal. When poor, rural children wreck theirs, they often prefer to keep their new status symbol clutched to their chests than risk the postal service not returning it promptly from the central maintenance centre.

But I do agree with the Economist's conclusion - in the Uruguayan context, One Laptop Per Child seems worth the try. Maybe they will increase test scores as well as bring Constructionism to the classroom. Or as the Economist says:

These ambitions will be tested for the first time later this month when every Uruguayan seven-year-old will take online exams in a range of academic subjects. The rest of the world should be intrigued: the first country in Latin America to provide free, compulsory schooling will become the first, globally, to find out whether furnishing a whole generation with laptops is a worthwhile investment.

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2 Comments

Ine of the sources from where The Economist has taken the figures cited is Miguel Brechner's presentation (http://www.slideshare.net/zupernano/plan-ceibal-septiembre-2009-2083313 ) at the IADB conference in Washington. Of course, there is much more to say about the Uruguayan project. For instance, "OLPC France" has blogged & commented this event and some of the issues raised (http://olpc-france.org/blog/2009/09/un-ordinateur-par-enfant-combien-ca-coute/ and http://olpc-france.org/blog/2009/09/la-ceibalita-pour-tous/ ).

OLPC is great.. Doing really a great work..The scheme has already proved popular. Miguel Brechner, the organiser, says it has brought home-computing to tens of thousands of poorer households, while also reducing truancy. It is fairly cheap. Each machine costs $260 (including teacher-training and connection charges) and the estimated annual maintenance cost is $21. In total, the scheme has cost less than 5% of the education budget.

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  • Oh, come on Michael. Do you really think anything that was said on OLPC News would have had much …

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  • Hi!

    I bought 2 "Tablets OLPC." I had to return because the two did not work. O …

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  • Dear sir
    I have one question to sir?

    -1 why XO Tablet children play OK but when h …

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  • Dear sir
    I have one question to sir?

    -1 why XO Tablet children play OK but when h …

    Comment on The XO Tablet - A First Impression in 750 Words

  • Warning: Use of undefined constant title - assumed 'title' (this will throw an Error in a future version of PHP) in /nfs/c03/h05/mnt/54379/domains/olpcnews.com/html/includes_c/sidebar.html on line 1473

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  • Dear sir
    I have one question to sir?

    -1 why XO Tablet children play OK but when h …

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  • Bonjour Mokifisi!
    Je suis bien d'accord avec vous. Je travaille depuis 4 ans dans un petit …

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  • You just follow the same route upstream how you got the 2XO Tablets? How did you get them? Bring …

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  • └ quelle adresse envoyer mes deux XOTablet qui ne fonctionnent pas?

    At what address to s …

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  • That's called "Death on arrivals". They happen. That's why there's always some additio …

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  • What is a shelf XO? If you tell me what did you buy and from whom, perhaps I will have a suggest …

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  • Voici mon message en franšais...

    Bonjour,
    Je viens d'acheter 2 tablettes XO. Les d …

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  • I just bought 2 shelves XO. Both tablets are not working. One does not start and the other touch …

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  • I just bought 2 shelves XO. Both tablets are not working. One does not start and the other touch …

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  • I just bought 2 shelves XO. Both tablets are not working. One does not start and the other touch …

    Comment on Goodbye One Laptop per Child

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  • OLPC is not death; eg. this One Laptop per Child San Francisco (OLPC-SF) June 21, 2014 Meeting a …

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