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The One Laptop Per Child program is broadening lives of children in rural Peru

first_img“Some tell me that they don’t want to be like their parents, working in the fields,” first-grade teacher Erica Velasco says of her pupils. Peru’s head of educational technology, Oscar Becerra, considers the One Laptop program the best answer yet to “a global crisis of education” in which curricula have no relevance. “If we make education pertinent, something the student enjoys, then it won’t matter if the classroom’s walls are straw or the students are sitting on fruit boxes.” Indeed, Arahuay’s elementary school population rose by 10 when families learned the laptop pilot was coming, said Guillermo Lazo, the school’s director. Teachers will get 2 days of training on the laptops, Becerra said. Each machine will initially be loaded with about 100 copyright-free books. Where applicable, texts in native languages will be included, he added. Critics of the program have two key concerns. The first is the ability of teachers – poorly trained and equipped to begin with – to cope with profoundly disruptive technology. Eduardo Villanueva, a communications professor at Lima’s Catholic University, fears “a general disruption of the educational system that will manifest itself in the students overwhelming the teachers.” To counter that fear, Becerra said the government is offering $150 grants to qualifying teachers toward the purchase of conventional laptops, for which it is also arranging low-interest loans. The second big concern is maintenance. For every 100 units it will distribute to students, Peru is buying one extra for parts. But there is no tech support program. Students and teachers will have to do it. “What you want is for the kids to do the repairs,” said Negroponte, who believes such tinkering is itself a valuable lesson. “I think the kids can repair 95percent of the laptops.” Negroponte acknowledges that t ech support is a serious issue . One Laptop is bidding on a contract with Brazil’s government that Negroponte says demanded unrealistically onerous support requirements. The XO machines are water resistant, rugged and designed to last five years. They have no fan so they won’t suck up dust, are built to withstand drops from up to 5 feet and can absorb power spikes typical of places with irregular electricity.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREFounded in 2005 by former MIT Media Lab director Nicholas Negroponte, the One Laptop program has retreated from early boasts that developing-world governments would snap up millions of the small laptops at $100 each. Mass production began last month and Negroponte, brother of U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, says he expects 1.5 million machines to be sold by next November. Even that would be far less than Negroponte originally envisioned. The higher-than-initially-advertised price and a lack of the Windows operating system, still being tested for the XO, have dissuaded many potential government buyers. Peru made the single biggest order to date – more than 272,000 machines – in its quest to turn around a primary education system that the World Economic Forum recently ranked last among 131 countries surveyed. Uruguay was the No. 2 buyer of the laptops, inking a contract for 100,000. Negroponte said 150,000 more laptops will get shipped to countries including Rwanda, Mongolia, Haiti, and Afghanistan in early 2008 through “Give One, Get One,” a U.S.-based promotion ending Dec. 31 in which you buy a pair of laptops for $399 and donate one or both. The children of Arahuay prove One Laptop’s transformative conceit: that you can revolutionize education and democratize the Internet by giving a simple, durable, power-stingy but feature-packed laptop to the worlds’ poorest kids. ARAHUAY, Peru – Doubts about whether poor, rural children really can benefit from quirky little computers evaporated as quickly as the morning dew in this hilltop Andean village, where 50 primary school children got machines from the One Laptop Per Child project six months ago. These offspring of peasants whose monthly earnings rarely exceed the cost of one of the $188 laptops – a people who can ill afford pencil and paper much less books – can’t get enough of their “XO” laptops. At breakfast, they’re already powering up the combination library/videocam/audio recorder/music maker/drawing kits. At night, they’re dozing off in front of them – if they’ve managed to keep older siblings from waylaying the coveted machines. “It’s really the kind of conditions that we designed for,” Walter Bender, president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology spinoff, said of this agrarian backwater up a precarious dirt road. last_img read more

‘He’ll be playing for Barca next year!’ Fans sad to see ‘Welsh Xavi’ leave

first_imgJoe Allen completed his move to Stoke City on Monday, much to the disappointment of Liverpool fans.The Welsh Xavi, as he has popularly become known by fans, signed a five-year deal at the Britannia after the two clubs agreed a figure believed to be around £13m. The 26-year-old followed Brendan Rodgers from Swansea City to Anfield in 2012, but he did not quite live up to expectations in four years on Merseyside. Allen made 47 appearances for club and country last season, playing a key role in Wales’ Euro 2016 campaign in France. But he does not fit in Jurgen Klopp’s plans, departing Liverpool after 132 appearances – 40 of them coming from the bench – and Reds fans wished him well after growing to appreciate his tireless efforts on the field. See some of the best reaction to his departure, below: 1 Joe Allen: The 26-year-old joins Stoke City for an estimated £13million last_img read more