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One Laptop Per Child - Poor Use of Funds?

A digg post links to a blog posting by a representative of European think tank Globalisation Institute who believes that the OLPC initiative is a waste of money and that its organizers and backers should "leave computers to the market economy." Interestingly enough, it's because of OLPC that "the market economy" is finally recognizing the opportunity emerging among developing nations. Just last week Microsoft announced a $3 software bundle for developing economies.

"Microsoft and others needed to begin reaching out to the developing world through existing, lower-cost technologies such as cell phones and television to provide basic computing and educational opportunities, according to Gates."

While cell phones will undoubtedly permeate emerging economies more quickly than traditional PCs, they fall far short of delivering the educational value of devices like OLPC. Governments around the world are recognizing that their economic prosperity is fundamentally linked to the level of education of their population, and OLPC offers them a technology-neutral vehicle to deliver advanced education technology to their children. The sole focus of OLPC is to help educate the world's children. The initiative isn't driven to maximize profits and returns to the stockmarket, or to satisfy the ego of a technology billionaire.

Maybe the market will get there, but I'm not counting on it, at least not without a catalyst like OLPC.

You go, Dr. Negroponte!


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