Too much "sugar" and too little "coffee": The real risks of failure for the OLPC project
info at olpc-peru.info
info at olpc-peru.info
Thu May 1 14:40:39 EDT 2008
XOs are deployed (by Governments) without following the original
This means big risk of failure for the educational project. IF in the
next 3 years there is no Sugar, and there is no OLPC, the whole
educative project can survive... wounded... but it will survive. The
ideas (principles) are set up and they can be developed with other tools
(Windows?) or by other organization (many). IF the original educative
principles are not followed then there is no possible solution: with or
without XOs, with or without OLPC, with or without Sugar/Linux, the
educative project will be deeply sick and it will be a failure or just a
"political" thing that will not have real impact in the global
population of poor children.
These are the big risks than can be seen in today's scenery:
a) Too focused training (exclusive?) in Sugar/Linux. Teachers and
children will not be prepared to deal with the more than possible
b) Theres is risk that the "self repairing" idea for the XOs can be
lost. Repairing and giving service and training to 250,000 computers (in
Peru) is a BIG business that will be desired by many top companies
(related to bids and government relationships... it happens in all times
and all around the world, isn't it?). This companies and "money driven"
individuals will put its own economies and business needs (and thoughts)
over children and teachers shoulders. Furthermore, IF the computer
belongs to the children and NOT to the school... what money have this
children to send HIS/HER computer for repairing to one of these
companies? Self repairing will be forgotten, hidden, not promoted, and
soon the big business will show up.
c) The promises for self generated energy are not available yet. This is
a big risk of failure because the government (in a logical and
understandable movement) will send the XOs to villages that have
electricity from the traditional wall system. This will leave thousands
of children in small villages without any possibility to reach one XO.
For Peru: Solar energy is not the answer (we have 100% clouds in most of
the Andes by 4 to 5 months by year), according to manufacturers of solar
panels in those conditions you will get from 5% to 20% (at most) of the
total energy that the solar panel can produce.
d) We, all, are preaching to the chorus. We are not reaching the poorest
children: we are letting government to send the XOs to cities and
villages were there is full electricity, VSATS, and other kinds of
previous development. We are doing "what can be done". That is not good
enough. Too much "Sugar" and too little "Cafe" (coffee = energy!). That
can be the "motto" for energy search & find mission.
e) In Peru there is an old project named "Huascaran" (Internet and
computers for the rural areas). It involves huge resources from the
government. It doesn't make logic that the XOs and OLPC becomes part of
the old "Huascaran" project. That will put oil in and old motor, that
will help for the survival and renewal of "Huascaran" project (named
differently in these days). But this is, again, preaching to the chorus.
The villages that have a VSAT or that can be "inside" the government
budget to get a VSAT are not the villages that are in deep need of OLPC
help. We keep preaching to the chorus: those children look poor, they
are poor. But that is for "U.S." standards. For local standards we have
deeper and more humiliating poverty that need us more: no light, no
internet, 1 day traveling in a 4 x 4 car, kids walk 2 hours to reach the
school, 50% of the born kids doesn't reach the 12 years old tag, 50% of
kids have anemia, total annual family income: FIVE hundred dollars
(annual). 80,000 villages are like this, with 5 million people there.
f) There are some voices that point out that the XOs will not be
property of the children. We should explain the necessity of this to the
responsible people. Any other explanation is just "hot air", most of the
time we will hear voices related to the power and selfish related to the
right to "administer" a pool of 50 or 70 computers (XOs) in this or
other town... or 200 or 300 XOs in this or that area (I will not get
surprise to find that some "clever" people get extra money in their
monthly salary according to how many computers (XOs) get under his/her
g) The lack of content: many of the contents that I have seen (from
Peru) are not of real and good value. The fact that the information that
will be put at the reach of the children is the SAME that was available
for the old "Huascaran" project lead us to think that "something is
rotten in the state of Denmark". The fact that in that group of
literature there are more than 30 manuscripts by an obscure author tell
us that this is not all the info that we need to provide to the isolated
h) There is no guarantee that the XOs will be a world wide communication
tool. If the XOs are useful JUST for communication between 50 kids then
we will get the best that 50 poor isolated children can develop with
their knowledge and experience. The lack of collaboration between
schools is just the tip of the iceberg, it was recently reported that
this "lack of communication" is due to "economic reasons" in the
networking structure develop by the Peruvian Ministry of Education (my
country! my authorities! my responsibility too...). If the XOs are not
connected and collaboration is not develop at its full reach then we are
letting behind all the knowledge and previous experience that the whole
human race has develop by centuries. Words too big? No way.
Finally... Education doesn't guarantee nothing. Worse case (or better
case?) sometimes education means revolution (sometimes pacific...
sometimes... not so pacific... like the French revolution...)... but in
one way or another we need to give education. If not we will be like
that French King that didn't want to publish the 28 volumes of Diderot's
"Encyclopedia" (published from 1751 to 1771.. ten years before the
French Revolution (1789))... That king (Luis XVI) said: "Those two men
(Voltaire and Rousseau)have destroyed France" (meaning him). And
Voltaire said: "books rule the world, or at least those nations which
have a written language..."
The king said ... "who will cultivate our fields if the peasants get
educated?" and he was not without reason: in the next years many farmers
came to the city... and a revolution was born (Just for the record: I
prefer evolution over revolution).
If we don't have Linux/Sugar we are wounded. But we will survive. All
these other factors are the ones that have the real potential to kill
the educative project and transform it in a political/economical
movement without real big importance in the education of poor children.
We live in "an unweeded garden" (Hamlet). Too much "Sugar" and too
little "Coffe" (my words).
May 01 2:34 PM
(I have published this in: http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Controversies
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
More information about the Devel