INDIAN OFFICIALS EXPRESS SCEPTICISM ABOUT MIT’S ONE LAPTOP PER CHILD PLANS
Earlier this week some Indian officials expressed concerns about MIT’s One Laptop per Child Plans. In a letter to his counterpart in the Planning Commission (Sudeep Banerjee), Rajiv Ratna Shah India's Education secretary wrote strongly disapproving of the 'One Laptop Per Child' idea and instead asked the plan panel to invest similar money into the universalisation of secondary education.
Complete with technical problems pointed out by IIT, Madras, pedagogical suspicions raised by NCERT and first-hand experience of a senior HRD official, who found that the laptops have not even crossed the prototype stage, Banerjee had said the scheme may actually be detrimental to the growth of creative and analytical abilities of the child. The education secretary had said, if the Planning Commission has the kind of money that would be required for this scheme, it would be appropriate to utilise it for universalisation of secondary education, for which a concept paper has been lying with the PC for approval since November 2005, and on which, he also made a presentation in the Planning Commission, presided over by the deputy chairman.
A detailed report by a senior HRD official, who attended a One Laptop per Child workshop in Massachusetts in May, found a series of faults with the concept and strongly recommended against accepting it. Since the laptops are in the prototype stage, the official found that hardware and functionality testing, using open-source Linux software, is still to begin. He also found out that due to the price of the battery and other hidden costs, the laptops might actually cost USD200. It also needs to be checked and certified in real time whether the connectivity distance between the local server and these laptops would be 0.5 km or 3 km as claimed.
Another functional problem is that these laptops cannot be upgraded without changing the motherboard , which would entail an expenditure of nearly 40% of the total cost. The maintenance of these laptops will also require a substantial investment and reserve stocks.