Doing the right thing...
Someone recently asked that as olpNc sponsor , what is my company doing distributing Wintel Classmate PCs and if I had "gone to the Dark Side now?" My answer is quite simple, I am on the side of the Nigerian child and will do whatever it takes to empower as many of them as possible with tools to compete in the digital world which mankind continues to unfold. The Intel Classmate PC regardless of what Intel and others may say is in my opinion a tool for Secondary School children who are being prepared for the Wintel dominated world we're in including Universities. Below are some of the kids in a Secondary School in Nigeria doing exactly that with Classmate PCs.
I find it a bit of a shame that technology today is shaping up pretty much like religion has done showing that we as mankind must thrive on division; to the one side the Catholic, Anglican, Methodist, Baptist, Episcopalian, Evangelical and other Christians; to another side the Sunni, Shī‘a, Ahmadiyya and other Islamists; to yet another side Buddhism, Taosim, Heaven worship, Daoism and so on and on sides never ending. In the case of technology today its Wintel on this side, Linux Open Source on that, AMD whoever on another, Google on another, Oracle on yet another etc etc - see the parallels yet?
In my relatively simplistic opinion, seems to me by and large mother nature has a way of settling her own scores on these man made divisions and pretty much like the protestant Churches came out of the Catholic Church domination of Christianity and Microsoft out of the IBM domination of computing all human endaevours unravel into their appropriate context in time. Having said that, the olpc XO with its Linux based Sugar interface, sun readable screen, mesh network etc is unlike the Classmate PC targeted at the Primary School aged children from 5 or 6 to 12 years old. At his stage, the business oriented environment of spreadsheets and presentations thankfully are not required. More important are reading, writing and arithmetic skills and as can be seen in the picture below of a primary school in Nigeria that's what gives.
There are about 4 million Nigerians born each year and according to a friend of mine there are about the same number of laptops made worldwide each year. As I understand it that means we as a country could single handedly be responsible for consumption of all lowcost laptops in production and then some. Even if with all the political power, commercial muscle and philanthropic will in the world we were able to buyout all the XOs, CMPCs, Asus Eees coming into production, the sheer logistics required means we probably would not be able to achieve "one laptop per Nigerian child" within the next decade.
For the record, I believe that ownership of laptops by school age children, digital saturation of communities with pervasive connectivity and open source software (which incidentally mimic both the OLPC and Intel World Ahead principles) should act as basic guidlines for any country-wide implementation of ICT in Education today especially in the developing world.
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