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There are people inside OLPC which consider the turnout as a chance to get the community much more involved. See what Samuel Klein thinks about it under http://wiki.laptop.org/go/It%27s_a_New_Day
Changes at OLPC
Posted Jan 8, 2009 10:20 UTC (Thu) by metasj (guest, #56000)
Posted Jan 8, 2009 10:41 UTC (Thu) by email@example.com (subscriber, #4013)
Posted Jan 8, 2009 16:24 UTC (Thu) by Alterego (subscriber, #55989)
The choice of "one machine for each children" sounds good to rich westerners, but shows the ignorance of what is really needed in developing countries, and what are the human develpment processes.
http://www.gapminder.org/ (great slides with UN stats about the world)
Also, one very bad hidden idea is that rich westerners think they know how to educate poor southern children.
And oh, don't forget to get back to basis in economy:
- primary development (agriculture) is needed before
- secundary dev (industry)
- then tertiary (services)
=> stop US an EU agriculture subventions which are the root cause of misery in the world, by preventing local primary economy to work.
Sorry to be a bit hard, but if we want to stop misery (that causes terrorism ...) and help our poorer brothers, we need to learn, and make clean in front of our own house before anything else.
Posted Jan 8, 2009 17:54 UTC (Thu) by dlang (✭ supporter ✭, #313)
'give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime'
the OLPC project isn't a services or industry project, it's an education project using technology.
take a look at this video if you haven't already seen it.
OLPC Mission: Part 2 The XO Laptop
Posted Jan 8, 2009 20:40 UTC (Thu) by Alterego (subscriber, #55989)
I would have prefered to install and teach them linux, but the hardware was too weak (often 16MB of RAM, and dsl was not usable at that time). One of our shame is to send them our old computers, when the transport cost are rather high once you include the local transport problem which is incredibly difficult and expensive when there are no roads nor trains (20mph is a good average speed for transport in Africa).
But the main benefit is for us: we transfer pollution cost to them and have good feeling of doing something nice. This is totally wrong because the proportion of working computers ending in educational system is very low.
"teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime"
They know this proverb too, and are fed up by foreigners who knows nothing of their life but want to explain everything and teach them.
Please, try to learn agriculture with a computer, when you have no good iron tool to build irrigation, no money for seeds, nor horse to work in field, no knowledge of local plants and soil, cows that produce one liter of milk per day, and tell me your results.
nice propaganda, but unrelated to real life, at least in Africa.
I comment some points of the video:
- preliminary, most people don't speak english, nor french, nor spanish only several of the 2000+ african tongues, so XO or whatever foreign technology is useless (assuming they know to read and write which is false for 50% of africans). The first education is done in mother tongue, then they learn one or more occidental language, which is one additional cause of scholar failure.
- "connectivity and power with solar panel" .. is nice but does not provide internet acces: when there is no power in the village, there is no internet.
- "when there is XO children go more to school". Hmm, i don't believe it. Children want to go to school, but often their parent just can not let them go, because they need the child job to eat. I saw children studying in the street under the city light because they have no electricity at home, and adult going to school with children to learn writing.
- "they do music, video, pictures" This is bs ! I asked the children in the (not so poor) family where i lived, what could i offer them. I proposed music, they just said "pffff, music" and asked for a calculator, books, paper and pens in order to have their bachelor. (i was ashamed to be so wrong ;-)
Last, OLPC with its partner ship with a closed source editor, totally went wrong, because closed source prevent your "teach a man how to fish", they can learn only to click, nothing more.
This is the biggest fault in my opinion, because feeding computer with good content is, i agree, a key part of education. What i saw, is incredibly poor library (if any) in schools, and giving them a local wikipedia and all documentation+compilers would be the best thing we can do.
Remember bandwidth is nearly zero, so XO dream of internet access shows only their ignorance. If i remember in Niger in 2003 it was 1MB/s for the backbone of the whole country, and i guess it does not have improved a lot. (this is not a typo, one megabyte per second)
To paraphrase linux coding style: XO people are not evil, they were just severely misguided.
Posted Jan 8, 2009 20:49 UTC (Thu) by dlang (✭ supporter ✭, #313)
if true that's extremely discouraging (in part, since it hasn't worked in the last 50+ years I see no reason to expect it to suddenly start working now)
Posted Jan 8, 2009 21:48 UTC (Thu) by Alterego (subscriber, #55989)
Without having spent time on the ground (or maybe huge studies), we cannot help a lot, except through our excellence in our own job/knowledge. So building a cheap, low power IT solution is a good idea, but the content must be their. So sharing our open source educational tools will be very good once they will be adapted to fit local realities. AFAIK OLPC in our rich countries we don't give one computer to each child, so why should it be in poor countires ?
We should help _their_ initiatives and _their_ solutions, by providing support mailing list, or whatever they ask for. (i teached M$ when i was hoping for implementing linux). Wrt to IT, things have evolved, for example Ubuntu is at first glance an African solution, which obviously shows that linux is also suited for Africa.
If you want to get some encouraging analyse, watch
(UN data, explained by a clever economist who spent a lot of time in Africa)
And we can help a lot by lobbying our governments to stop the root cause of their misery = our (US and EU) agriculture subventions that prevent their agriculture to develop, and this is the first mandatory step for sustainable development. Historically all (no exception) so called "developped countries" have grown through theses steps, first primary economy and food self-providing, then secondary and last tertiary, with "protectionism" of the local economy by taxes on importations and state intervention in social welfare and infrastructures.
Probably many other actions are possible from here (see debt problem, UN funding...), but i think the best we (geeks) can do is to share what we use for our children, and help them (poor but clever southern guys) to adapt it to their needs.
Posted Jan 9, 2009 17:32 UTC (Fri) by tzafrir (subscriber, #11501)
Posted Jan 9, 2009 19:16 UTC (Fri) by Alterego (subscriber, #55989)
A positive approach, is then to learn "first-aid" during a stage at hospital, or with firemen... and forgot all the nasty things that incompetent neighbours told to you.
Posted Jan 9, 2009 20:13 UTC (Fri) by dlang (✭ supporter ✭, #313)
all we should do is provide you (and people like you) with money, we aren't even qualified to evaluate if the money is being spent efficiantly.
Money and help ?
Posted Jan 10, 2009 0:16 UTC (Sat) by Alterego (subscriber, #55989)
Did i ever asked for or speak of money ?
Man, i spent 3 years of my life, and nearly all my economies in western Africa for IT in small ngo and schools. I did it on my own money because it was too time consuming and difficult to get the small funds i needed, without going througth insanely dumb sponsorship, who wanted things to be done in sponsors way, when it is needed to do them in african way.
But as you speak of money, one other problem of aid to developing countries is that the funds quickly goes back to the original donators country, and only very little is spent in local economy. OLPC is a huge example : the paid developpers are in US, the hardware manufacturer in developped countries. The target country can only say "thanks, you are so kind", when it would have prefered to have local developpers doing the job. In OLPC it seems some parts are localised, so i guess there have been paid translators.
You should ask your beloved olpc team how the money was spent, i missed it on their site too.
The main things i try to share is:
- from here we understand nearly nothing, so we do bs and think we are right.
- The good way to help them is to do what they ask for. Nothing more, nothing less.
Posted Jan 10, 2009 0:33 UTC (Sat) by dlang (✭ supporter ✭, #313)
if it's the government, then frequently all they want you to do is to give them money to spend on luxuries.
in every case where OLPC is doing a deployment, someone in the receiving country has asked them to do so.
I commend you for taking the time out of your life to go in on the ground and work to make things better, but telling people that if they don't do that they are better off doing nothing won't make anything better.
Posted Jan 10, 2009 3:10 UTC (Sat) by Alterego (subscriber, #55989)
OLPC is now tackling sub-saharian problems.
But it seems they have not even read a 3 page document describing _THE_ official continental plan for Africa. (NEPAD.)
Does olpc fit Nepad Objectives ? No.
I cannot explain better why i say OLPC is (now) severely misguided.
Its hard to explain in small (and emotional) posts what i learnt in several years of travels, discussions, experiences and many books readings.
Maybe google will give you some hints for nepad, gapminder, Jean Ziegler work at UN, and "right for food" (refused only by one country in the world, i let you find out which one), or Joseph Stiglitz, or digg and you will find lots of dramatic total failures, or misleading projects.
If you want a sad real story where it would have been infinitely better to do nothing than impose our rules (but it was supposed to help them, it had nothing to do with our business of course), read this :
And please, keep on trying to help other people, that's great. But get deep informations, and don't misunderstand my criticism. It's necessary and good to have criticism in order to improve.
IT can provoke big civilisation disasters, by erasing culture, that's why it is important that we (foreigners) provide only help for tech, and that the local people create the socio-cultural-educational content.
Posted Jan 10, 2009 4:08 UTC (Sat) by dlang (✭ supporter ✭, #313)
you need to investigate how OLPC is working, not just read the press reports from NN's speaches. there is heavy involvement from people in-country, they are working with and through the ministry of education (or equivalent), they aren't just drop shipping laptops to schools and declaring success
Posted Jan 10, 2009 9:37 UTC (Sat) by Alterego (subscriber, #55989)
Are you a troll ?
Did you check Nepad site, at least the home page and the url i gave wrt IT ?
They are poor, but certainly not stupid nor ignorant.
Posted Jan 10, 2009 4:11 UTC (Sat) by Ze (guest, #54182)
What if it's the truth? Is making yourself feel better more important than helping them? The simple fact is until people accept that aid programs have a cost on the developing country and that not all aid is helpful they will continue to be unsuccessful in the long term. (BTW this can also be applied to social services.)
My personal view when it comes to charity is that I don't donate anything (time,money,goods) unless I know where it is going. It's a philosophy I intend to follow for the rest of my life. I'd love to push some of the responsibility off onto others but mountain of historical evidence tells us that it's far too easy for aid to be wasted , or harm them. I've mainly donated time and skills , and goods that aren't needed to charity so far because I've chosen a different path than most but I'm facing the situation where I could become reasonably wealthy from my own hard work and a bit of luck , so it's something I've thought about a lot. In the long term finding out that my help was harmful even though it had the best intentions would more than counteract the temporary joy from doing it. I'd feel responsible for the harm even though it was unintended (and I would be responsible for it). So looking to the long term and taking a careful involved approach is really a win/win for everybody including me.
There are many reasons why aid fails but a lot of it has to do with exploiting the countries for resources and labour. In the long run I suspect we would be better not to exploit these countries AND give them education through information and helping them construct things using basic skills. We can shorten the time to bring them up to our technological level by showing them some of the mistakes on the way up and letting them chart a better path.
If we exploit these countries we aren't helping them and we aren't letting them choose the way they want to be ,often we are supporting a Govt that the people don't want or that isn't sustainable just so we can get what we want.
It's also no use teaching them how to build or use something if they can't replicate and maintain it themselves. There are numerous times in history when we've donated technology only for it to be useless in a couple of years when the program ends because they can't maintain it (or it's too costly to maintain it). If we give them aid in the form of goods to supplement a short term shortfall we have to be careful we don't wipe out their existing industry or make them dependent on it.
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