by Al Sacco

India Turns Its Back on One Laptop Per Child

Jul 26, 20062 mins
IT Leadership

India has decided not to participate in Nicholas Negroponte’s One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) initiative, which was organized to provide children and educators in developing countries with a simple-to-use computer that would cost around $100, The Hindu reports.

India’s Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry called Negroponte’s project “paedagogically suspect,” and said its money would be better spent on secondary education, according to The Hindu.

“The case for giving a computer to every single [person] is paedagogically suspect,” wrote Education Secretary Sudeep Banerjee in a letter to India’s planning commission, according to The Hindu. “It may actually be detrimental to the growth of creative and analytical abilities of the child.

“We cannot visualize a situation for decades when we can go beyond the pilot stage. We need classrooms and teachers more urgently than fancy tools,” Banerjee said, according to The Hindu.

OLPC’s success depends largely on its adoption in large countries that would place equally large orders for Negroponte’s machines, and India’s decision could represent a major blow to the initiative.

Negroponte and his team had originally planned to make the machines available by the beginning of 2007, but it will not begin assembling and shipping units until some 5 million to 10 million computers are ordered and paid for, according to The Register.

Such big-name firms as AMD, Google and Red Hat have expressed their support of the program, and China, India, Brazil, Egypt and Thailand were among a handful of countries that originally said they were interested in procuring machines, The Register reports.

“We do not think that the idea of Prof. Negroponte is mature enough to be taken seriously at this stage, and no major country is presently following this,”  Banerjee said, according to The Hindu. “Even inside America, there is not much enthusiasm about this.”