No OLPC Romania? Blame the Political Form Factor


Members of the Romanian Education Commission in the House of Deputies reviewed and then rejected One Laptop Per Romanian Child recently. reports that the rejection was officially due to financial constraints of the Children's Machine XO:

House Commission head Lia Olguta Vasilescu said they believed the 700 million euro needed for the procurement of the laptops was too much an amount and would weigh heavily on the Education Ministry budget. Vasilescu also said that "beside that the laptops are simple toys, they’re not even have an expiring date". "We, the Parliament, do not want to support this project because there’s no money" for it.
Could it be that Romanian balked at the escalating "$100 laptop" price? Or might OLPC have lost out for a much simpler and very unofficial reason, embarrassment? Maybe the Romanian parliament had just as much trouble opening the OLPC XO as Better Days did:
It took three geeky people over two minutes to open the clamshell OLPC computer body. Politicians? They're probably still trying to open it in Romania!

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It's funny but the same thing happened to me when I got the B2 prototype. It took me two or three minutes to opened it!

However, I don't think that's the reason why Romanian politicians rejected it. I'm more keen on the possibility of a misunderstanding of the project. Come on, who can really say that "beside that the laptops are simple toys". We all are familiar with the amazing possibilities and the educational background of the children's machine, but it's not easy to communicate that to politicians (unless of course you are called Negroponte).

I'll give you an example. I'm presenting the OLPC project to Chilean politicians and other national leaders as part of our campaign UN COMPUTADOR POR NIÑO (one computer per child). The first thing I say to them is that this machine (the B2) is currently a prototype, and it's not 100% working. I let them see the machine and explain them all the functions it's going to have, but ALWAYS insist in the educational background of the project, in the expected price, in the value for money issue, in the team behind it, and so forth. I try not to focus my presentations on the machine in itself because at the moment it would be a bad idea (basically it's running too slow!).
So my advice to people showing prototypes around the world: don't show it too much right now. I guess the OLPC team needs a couple of months to have a new prototype working almost as good as it's going to be.

A short related news: INTEL has just launched its CLASSMATE in Chile so now schools can buy it direclty (no through the Ministry of Education and not by 1 million units). We interviewed the guy in charge of Latinamerica and the video is available from our website (in Spanish)



Okay, here's my take on the matter:

The OLPC was rather designed for third world countries and recently joined EU member Romania is not so much that. This plus a large number of past European and local government projects have provided a great number of computers in schools and universities. Since access to information, technology, internet and computers is not an issue in the Romanian education realm, the government has decided to route the money to other ongoing projects (such as infrastructure and energy) that are vital for the EU.

I'm sure the 700mil in your quote was picked up wrong by the media. The laptop was presented with a price tag of $140 (USD).

On the other hand, it's likely arrogant MPs to have considered the lappie a joke, since they have been provided with state of the art tablet PCs by the institution they work for. (tax money)

We are sadned by the decision ourselves.

Dan of

The stated cost of 700 million euros doesn't make sense even if Romania is looking at rolling out the program to all schoolchildren at once. According to UNICEF statistics, Romania has a 1-year age cohort of 207,000 at age 5. If other cohorts were the same size, and all of these children were to finish 12 years of education, that would come to about 2.5 million students (ignoring variations in birth rate, dropouts, and any other factors that could change the total). At 200 million dollars per million units (plus servers, training, etc.), more or less, that still can't come out to more than about 500 million total. Unless there was something more in the Romanian deal that we haven't heard about.

$500 million USD is about 665 million Euros. Maybe they added in $35 million for educational content development, teacher training, and OLPC XO support and maintenance to get 700 million Euros.

Since when is a Dollar worth more than an Euro?
1 Euro ~ 1.3 Dollar!


100 million USD is roughly 70 million Euros. (around 75mil to be more precise). That's what the officials said but the media picked it up wrong! Here's your answer!

I'm afraid you are totally wrong when trying to figure out the number of pupils this way, Edward Cherlin.
There are 3.5 million pupils in schols, according to official Romanian statistics.
Also, since 1990 there is no restriction on abortus.
That lead to a massive drop on birth rate.
In 1990 there were almost 5 million pupils. (Including students too)

Anyway, OLPC is rather fragile for a kid I'm afraid.

I can recall, politicians was also laughing on the sad fact, that the 100$ laptop costs 175$, though these days it costs 200$.
They was calculating not only with a 140EUR laptop for each pupil, but also for the teachers, that's why they was multiplying with 5 million the price.
They even mentioned, this price is not even including the transportation and so on.
Don't forget, Romania has a 79.848 Million US$ GDP.
So, you can't expect to spend more than 1% on OLPC.


in Romania is much corruption. The government bought for schools and public institutions f. e. HP PCs with Microsoft Software for very high prices.

An NGO organisation like the OLPC project cant pay tips to them. Its very simple.....

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