Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Education: yer doin' it wrong

In Peru, the government recently delivered a boatload of laptop computers to over 2,000 school kids in indigenous communities. There's just one big problem. In 50 of the 73 communities where the computers were sent, there is no electricity to keep them running (these are not self cranking types).

As it turns out though, this is actually a big improvement over the last program like this. In that case, the computers were set up in English (!!!!) and the batteries were defective.

Plus, not to worry because the government is pledging to soon deliver 2 solar panels to each of the communities that got laptops but don't have electricity!

No word on how these panels would be utilized or how an electric grid for a village could run on two panels (maybe they are VERY BIG panels?).

Here is the full story (in Spanish). Hat tip to the inimitable Otto.


Jonam said...

before deliver the laptop the should think about electricity

TGGP said...

A similar thing happened in India. That's discussed in a paper linked from here.

the ill given bird said...

A couple of things:
1) They mention that the computers - which the educators of these villages have been trained to operate - contain information downloaded from the internet. Alright, so they want these kids to learn from "the outside world". It would be cheaper to burn dvd's of the videos that they want the kids exposed to, purchase tvs and dvd players (which together would be less than multiple laptops) and then spend the rest of the laptop money plus the promised $200 million dollars on trying to get electricity to these places. This strategy allows for future dissemination of information in the form of dvd's sent to the village. Laptops will run out of new information quickly and since they are not connected to the internet, they can't find new info.
2) The kid that was wondering what was going to happen when the battery ran out didn't know how to use the computer... As bad as "education" is in some parts of the world, I'm not so sure anyone, including the teachers, know how to operate these computers. They do at least point out that they are not in English (one step at a time I guess)...