[OLPC India] Some questions

Edward Cherlin echerlin at gmail.com
Fri Jan 9 06:24:49 EST 2009

On Wed, Jan 7, 2009 at 3:19 AM, keerthi shanmuga
<keerthi.ssram at gmail.com> wrote:
> pls ref inline...
> On Wed, Jan 7, 2009 at 3:41 PM, Edward Cherlin <echerlin at gmail.com> wrote:
>> On Sun, Jan 4, 2009 at 2:54 AM, Satish Jha <jha.satish at gmail.com> wrote:
>> > One of my friends from Harvard Alumni Group had the following to say:
>> >
>> > I'm familiar with this great initiative. The question I would have is
>> > this:
>> > do you have studies on how the village changes when children get the XO?
>> Some.
>> > In
>> > a poor village can the child be "only" a school learner, or does s/he
>> > have
>> > other roles to play?
> Often it is the case that, outside the school, rural boys have to attend to
> the family shop/livelihood, or generally help the breadwinners
> intermittently. The former President Dr.Kalam reports in his autobiography
> that he used to distribute newspapers, sell sea shells or sit in his
> brother's shop before/after school hours. If the family is partisan,
> children are used for their nimble and smaller hands, in tasks like weaving.
> I know of villages where such children move out of the day school into
> evening classes, as they become more productive with the handloom.
> The friend of Satish expresses concern, that the continuity of such training
> and nurturing of the traditions and rural arts could be degraded by improper
> penetration of hi-tech like the XO...

It is the intention of Earth Treasury to support the model you cite
where appropriate. We intend to have microfinance supporting
electricity and Internet for the XOs and for economic opportunities
that they support. In addition, we want to use the XOs to record
traditional crafts and other aspects of culture (and language, oral
history...), and offer microfinance for weaving equipment and supplies
or other support for culturally unique products. Then the computers
and Internet allow these products to be sold globally in e-commerce.
There is much more to this vision. Some of it is in a video I made
last year, which you can see at a link on my personal page (URL

> The positiveness of this group is admirable.  The concern is do we have
> alternatives and contingencies for the negatives the XO might inadvertently
> produce.
> In a family of several children, the smarter ones are encouraged and
> supported to continue education. For such children (by however means they
> are identified so) the XO will be a terrific thing in their hands, and the
> family might anticipate great things due to the endowment.
> It still lies for us to think from the perspective of the family and develop
> the XO in order to empower that smart child to give back to the family
> through clever utilization of the XO -- instances of which I am certain have
> already been witnessed.

Children have often been observed helping their parents by accessing
agricultural information on the Internet, and many other kinds of
information besides.

> - keerthi
>> The child is an enabler for the rest of the family, for friends,
>> indeed for the entire community.
>> > How does the XO impact those roles?
>> We have been at this for only a year, and there are only a few studies
>> published. You can find them, plus a link to some anecdotal accounts,
>> at http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Academic_papers. The first change of note
>> in the Ethiopia study is that before XOs, children were not allowed to
>> ask questions of a teacher, ever. After, teachers of their own
>> volition put question time in their lesson plans.
>> In Arahuay, Peru, teachers report that children are becoming much more
>> sociable, talking to each other more, sharing personal possessions,
>> and losing their fear of outsiders. They teach their parents how to
>> use the computers, and do agricultural and other research for them
>> online.
>> We can provide many more observations, but no conclusions tested in
>> multiple locations. There are education researchers in a number of
>> countries conducting and planning studies right now, and we need many
>> more of them.
>> See also the Harvard Business Review study of the economic effects of
>> the ITC e-choupal project, where access to one computer per village
>> resulted in measurable growth in farm income.
>> > Coming off reviewing a major book on bio-tech, I'm impressed with the
>> > fact
>> > that we don't see things enough as flow, as context, as ecology.
>> At some point we will write Free digital textbooks on ecology and many
>> other subjects for K-12 education systems worldwide. See
>> http://wiki.sugarlabs.org/go/Creating_textbooks for an outline and a
>> list of proposed partners in this new consortium. Most of them have
>> agreed in principle to join in the effort.
>> > The XO must
>> > have major impact, but is it to pull the child out of the village,
>> > mentally,
>> > and into the Mumbai-global economy world? Or does it lead to solving
>> > community problems and enhancing everyone's potential?
>> We propose to create a new economy. We don't know how it will work out
>> in detail, but we definitely intend to pursue the possibilities for
>> working over the Net from the villages. We propose, for example, that
>> the next wave of outsourcing in India will be from the cities to the
>> towns, and from the towns to the villages, as both education and
>> videoconferencing capabilities spread everywhere.
>> > The child connecting
>> > adults to resources, for instance.
>> > Questions, I see, not advice, and perhaps you have good answers already.
>> > Or
>> > perhaps this holistic view helps somehow.
>> Earth Treasury proposes such a view of the project, and has taken up a
>> number of challenges that OLPC and Sugar Labs consider out of scope.
>> These include
>> o Renewable electricity generation and storage for schools.
>> o Broadband Internet, even in the poorest and most remote villages.
>> o International microfinance, including e-commerce and IT services.
>> o A complete rethinking of Free digital textbooks, using the full
>> power of XO hardware and Sugar software.
>> o Connecting schools all over the world.
>> o Teaching children to use the video camera in the XOs to record and
>> share languages, cultures, oral histories, and whatever else is of
>> value to them and their communities.
>> o A curriculum on the basics of business, genuine economics (not the
>> current Free Trade nonsense), and so-called Intellectual Property law,
>> so that communities can maintain the rights to their own culture.
>> On this last point, I will cite only the attempt to patent a medicinal
>> use of turmeric, where the courts held that documentation of this use
>> in the Vedas did not constitute Prior Art. Examples can easily be
>> multiplied.
>> There are also initiatives in health education and health care systems
>> using ICT, and other possibilities for attacking every aspect of
>> poverty, neglect, and oppression. Simply giving every individual a
>> voice in the conversation about our shared future will be extremely
>> powerful.
>> > Give a laptop, Get a laptop; Change the World
>> >
>> > _______________________________________________
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>> --
>> Silent Thunder (默雷/धर्ममेघशब्दगर्ज/دھرممیگھشبدگر ج) is my name
>> And Children are my nation.
>> The Cosmos is my dwelling place, The Truth my destination.
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> -- http://disha.resolve.at --

Silent Thunder (默雷/धर्ममेघशब्दगर्ज/دھرممیگھشبدگر ج) is my name
And Children are my nation.
The Cosmos is my dwelling place, The Truth my destination.

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