John L. Thornton, Professor and Director of Global Leadership at Tsinghua University in Beijing and former President and former Co-COO of Goldman Sachs, so he is able to donate XO's and he knows how to execute a successful implementation.
President Nambaryn Enkhbayar of Mongolia announced today his commitment to provide every child in his nation with a connected laptop by the end of 2010.Now why would a Intel director support XO donations to Mongolia? And how much should we believe the government angle in this press release? If we look back, didn't Libya also sign a MOU with OLPC? And what have we heard from them since? Only this reflection on it during the OLPC analyst meeting:
As a first step toward making this a reality Professor Nicholas Negroponte, and Mr. Nyamaa Enkhbold, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mongolia, agreed to launch the OLPC initiative in Mongolia as early as January 2008 and signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) thereof in the presence of President Enkhbayar. In January, Mongolia and OLPC plan to launch a pilot project providing 20,000 units of the acclaimed XO laptops,
The realization of this project in Mongolia comes through the ongoing support of Mr. John L. Thornton, and builds upon the work of two MIT students, Enkhmunkh Zurgaanjin and Jan Jungclaus, who spent the summer of 2007 in Mongolia promoting the concept and spreading the word.
Negroponte: Libya, interestingly enough, is entertaining giving its neighbor 125,000.So is that what we have to look forward to with Mongolia's government? An initial order of 20,000 XO laptops, or $4 million dollars, announced with a big bang and then followed up withâ€¦?
Interviewer: They ordered a million, didn't they? That was put out in the press release.
Negroponte: That was put out in the press release, but again press releases are worthâ€¦ when the time comes, that is in August, we'll do a smaller amount in Libya.
You know I am starting to tire of hearing about One Laptop Per Child of Country X that starts with Nicholas Negroponte shaking hands with a President. Didn't he learn his lesson about their promises already: Presidents loving laptops doesn't equal Ministers buying XO's.
Doesn't John L. Thornton know that the best OLPC Mongolia implementation plan would start local. With school districts - parents, teachers, even school administrators - who are involved from the very beginning? Not showboating Presidents and Ministers of Foreign Affairs.
I would've expected more from a successful professional familiar with the developing world. I would have expected an OLPC Oceania approach at the very least.