The One Laptop Per Child Programme.

Last week I wrote about 2 different programmes. I explained that one demonstrated the benefits of introducing technology into the classrooms of developing countries whilst I explained that the other was an example of how the introduction of ICT was not beneficial in the slightest. 

I mentioned that a programme called the ‘one laptop per child’ programme that was used in Peru in order to introduce the use of computers and technology to young children in the classrooms. The programme was arranged by the Ministry of Education in which each child was provided with a brand new shiny computer. They were provided with the intention of improving ICT and content-related skills of children across the country however due to poor teachers training and other various factors such as out of date software, researchers found that the computers were not used and served minimal purpose in the classrooms of Peru.

When reading about this programme I did find that it has attracted many criticisms especially in regards to it’s impact on Peru, however I must admit that I was taken by surprise of it’s success in other countries. Critics argued that money should be spent on more ‘practical’ things such as clean water and medicine. I must say that I completely agreed with this until I heard of the impact it had on children in other countries. The OLPC’s mission is to empower the world’s poorest children through education and I have learned that the program has been introduced in countless countries other than Peru, including America, Afghanistan, India and Kenya. 

An example of the beneficial impact that the OLPC programme has had is evident in the schools of Afghanistan. An intensive empirical analysis on test performance of pupils in the country before and after the introduction of the OLPC program demonstrated that there was an average improvement of 21.33% across all students in standardised tests in a period of only two months. The study confirmed that there was a significant improvement in childhood education as a result of the introduction of the computers (Hirji, 2010). These statistics suggests that when used properly, the programme has the capability to provide several beneficial factors to both pupils and teachers and goes against the criticisms that were associated with the impact of the programme in Peru. 

Literature suggests that although the introduction of the OLPC programme is relatively recent therefore there has been a limited amount of time to conduct any longitudinal assessments on it’s impact on children, the findings from existing evaluations are largely positive in nature (Nugroho & Lonsdale, 2010). 

For more information on this program, please visit:

 http://one.laptop.org/ 

References

Hirji, Z. (2010). One Laptop per Child Projects. One Laptop per Child Foundation Learning Group. 7. Retrieved from http://wiki.laptop.org/images/e/e7/OLPCF_M%26E_Publication_(1).pdf on March 2013 

Nugroho, D., Lonsdae, M. (2010). Evaluation of OLPC programs globally: a literature review. Australian council for Educational Research. 4, 2-23.

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7 thoughts on “The One Laptop Per Child Programme.

  1. Hi Ffion, Yet again another good blog which is easily read and interpreted.

    Fairlie et al (2013) mentions the one latop per child programme, and imitating tthe method within a California community, with a control group and a target group. The findings suggested no significances on educational outcomes, including grades, credits earned, disciplinary actions and attendance. The only outcome that did come from this study was the larg effect on computer ownership within the region. In my oppinion this is not sufficient enough to warrant spending so much money on hundreds of PC’s, and finding no significances. Possible reasons for this result may be due to no training given on the computers, and that they are in a developed country with plenty of technology present within the society.
    Fairlie and London (2012) also had a similar idea, however this involved college students using a randomized experiment. Contradicting to Fairlie, they did find small significances to psitive effects on educational outcomes following targeting low-income families, however this cannot be generalized to Fairlie’s findings as they are in two different age brackets.
    There tends to be a trend when it comes to these constraints, non-computer families tend to be poor and uneducated (U.S. Department of Commerce 2011) therefore the result of intervention is still open for debate, with plenty of research showing positive results and others modest.

    Fairlie, Robert W., and Rebecca A. London. 2011. “The Effects of Home Computers on Educational Outcomes: Evidence from a Field Experiment with Community College Students.” Economic Journal (forthcoming).
    Fairlie, R. W., & Robinson, J. (2013). Experimental evidence on the effects of home computers on academic achievement among schoolchildren (No. 4128). CESifo Working Paper: Economics of Education
    U.S. Department of Education. 2011. “School Locator,” National Center for Educational Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ccd/schoolsearch

  2. Hi Ffion a very interesting blog once again. According to Streicher – Porte et al (2009) by providing schools with second hand computers from overseas in Columbia through the ‘One Laptop Per Child’ wasn’t beneficial as the creation of jobs and local industry involvement and the potential for social improvement is very low. In support of the one laptop per child is an article by Hirji et al (2010) who claimed that in Haiti most teachers noted in an interview that it was much easier to edit their students work on a laptop and as such they were able to spend more time working one – on – one with students and less time lecturing. Therefore after researching online even thought there is a limitation of one laptop per child overall I think the benefits outweigh the limitation and that one laptop per child is beneficial.

    Hirji, Z., Barry, B., Fadel, R., & Gavin, S. (2010). Assessment Overview of One Laptop per Child Projects. One Laptop per Child Foundation. Learning Group.

    Streicher-Porte, M., Marthaler, C., Böni, H., Schluep, M., Camacho, A., & Hilty, L. M. (2009). One laptop per child, local refurbishment or overseas donations? Sustainability assessment of computer supply scenarios for schools in Colombia. Journal of environmental management, 90(11), 3498-3511.

  3. Ffion, great blog. This program is a new concept to me, I never knew it existed!
    The OLPC program seems to have been tested in many different countries and backgrounds, from California, USA to Ghana, West Africa. As you mentioned, I also found critics that slated the amount of money being spent on a program like this. However, Negroponte (2007) says, “I have not met anybody who claims they are too poor to invest in education, nor anybody that said it was a waste of money. If somebody is dying of hunger, food comes first. If somebody is dying from war, peace comes first. But if the world is going to be a better place, the tools for doing so always include education.” I think he makes a very good point. Connell (1994) also highlights the need for a change in educational programs in poor schools with two main objectives; practical experience of teachers and parents with compensatory programs, and a need for a much more sophisticated sociology of education. he states that without these changes, current educational programs may even, “reinforce the patterns that produce inequality.”
    The OLPC program research from your blog seems like a good way to start targeting these changes.

    Negroponte, N. (2007) “What if Every Child Had A Laptop,” http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/ 2007/05/20/60minutes/main2830058.shtml.
    Connell, R. W. (1994). Poverty and education. Harvard Educational Review, 64(2), 125-150.

  4. With all the negative feedback the OLPC in Peru received, I’m also surprised that there were positive consequences in other countries such as Afghanistan. If this is the case, what did Peru do wrong? Or were they just not ready for the major investment in technology? Although the technology did not benefit the people of Peru, with the aid of other countries such as Canada (Canadian International Developmental Agency), other aspects of education have been improved;
    • 500 teachers have been trained, which resulted in 13,500 children having access to basic education (2010-2011)
    • Reading comprehension in grade 2 students increased from 3.8% (2008) to 16% (2009)
    • Mathematics ability increased from 5.3% (2008) to 15.4% (2009)
    Considering this, and the extremely effective results seen here, is there really a need for introducing technology to developing countries? They can benefit much more if the money is spent on appropriate facilities and services. Due to training all the teachers, this ability they now have can be passed onto the next generation. If we consider a computer, it would be well passed its sell by date in a few years and much more expensive to run (which these countries currently do not have!).
    I also found an interesting video regarding the improvements that are trying to be accomplished in Peru’s education here if you want to have a look!

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