Lack of Principles
OLPC and XOs are deployed (by Governments) without following the original principles
This means big risk of failure for the educational project. IF in the next 3 years there is no Sugar, and there is no OLPC, the whole educative project can survive... wounded... but it will survive. The ideas (principles) are set up and they can be developed with other tools (Windows?) or by other organization (many). IF the original educative principles are not followed then there is no possible solution: with or without XOs, with or without OLPC, with or without Sugar/Linux, the educative project will be deeply sick and it will be a failure or just a "political" thing that will not have real impact in the global population of poor children.
These are the big risks than can be seen in today's scenery:
a) Too focused training (exclusive?) in Sugar/Linux. Teachers and children will not be prepared to deal with the more than possible XO/Windows computers.
b) Theres is risk that the "self repairing" idea for the XOs can be lost. Repairing and giving service and training to 250,000 computers (in Peru) is a BIG business that will be desired by many top companies (related to bids and government relationships... it happens in all times and all around the world, isn't it?). This companies and "money driven" individuals will put its own economies and business needs (and thoughts) over children and teachers shoulders. Furthermore, IF the computer belongs to the children and NOT to the school... what money have this children to send HIS/HER computer for repairing to one of these companies? Self repairing will be forgotten, hidden, not promoted, and soon the big business will show up.
c) The promises for self generated energy are not available yet. This is a big risk of failure because the government (in a logical and understandable movement) will send the XOs to villages that have electricity from the traditional wall system. This will leave thousands of children in small villages without any possibility to reach one XO. For Peru: Solar energy is not the answer (we have 100% clouds in most of the Andes by 4 to 5 months by year), according to manufacturers of solar panels in those conditions you will get from 5% to 20% (at most) of the total energy that the solar panel can produce.
d) We, all, are preaching to the chorus. We are not reaching the poorest children: we are letting government to send the XOs to cities and villages were there is full electricity, VSATS, and other kinds of previous development. We are doing "what can be done". That is not good enough. Too much "Sugar" and too little "Cafe" (coffee = energy!). That can be the "motto" for energy search & find mission.
e) In Peru there is an old project named "Huascaran" (Internet and computers for the rural areas). It involves huge resources from the government. It doesn't make logic that the XOs and OLPC becomes part of the old "Huascaran" project. That will put oil in and old motor, that will help for the survival and renewal of "Huascaran" project (named differently in these days). But this is, again, preaching to the chorus. The villages that have a VSAT or that can be "inside" the government budget to get a VSAT are not the villages that are in deep need of OLPC help. We keep preaching to the chorus: those children look poor, they are poor. But that is for "U.S." standards. For local standards we have deeper and more humiliating poverty that need us more: no light, no internet, 1 day traveling in a 4 x 4 car, kids walk 2 hours to reach the school, 50% of the born kids doesn't reach the 12 years old tag, 50% of kids have anemia, total annual family income: FIVE hundred dollars (annual). 80,000 villages are like this, with 5 million people there.
f) There are some voices that point out that the XOs will not be property of the children. We should explain the necessity of this to the responsible people. Any other explanation is just "hot air", most of the time we will hear voices related to the power and selfish related to the right to "administer" a pool of 50 or 70 computers (XOs) in this or other town... or 200 or 300 XOs in this or that area (I will not get surprise to find that some "clever" people get extra money in their monthly salary according to how many computers (XOs) get under his/her "administration").
g) The lack of content: many of the contents that I have seen (from Peru) are not of real and good value. The fact that the information that will be put at the reach of the children is the SAME that was available for the old "Huascaran" project lead us to think that "something is rotten in the state of Denmark". The fact that in that group of literature there are more than 30 manuscripts by an obscure author tell us that this is not all the info that we need to provide to the isolated children.
h) There is no guarantee that the XOs will be a world wide communication tool. If the XOs are useful JUST for communication between 50 kids then we will get the best that 50 poor isolated children can develop with their knowledge and experience. The lack of collaboration between schools is just the tip of the iceberg, it was recently reported that this "lack of communication" is due to "economic reasons" in the networking structure develop by the Peruvian Ministry of Education (my country! my authorities! my responsibility too...). If the XOs are not connected and collaboration is not develop at its full reach then we are letting behind all the knowledge and previous experience that the whole human race has develop by centuries. Words too big? No way.
Finally... Education doesn't guarantee nothing. Worse case (or better case?) sometimes education means revolution (sometimes pacific... sometimes... not so pacific... like the French revolution...)... but in one way or another we need to give education. If not we will be like that French King that didn't want to publish the 28 volumes of Diderot's "Encyclopedia" (published from 1751 to 1771.. ten years before the French Revolution (1789))... That king (Luis XVI) said: "Those two men (Voltaire and Rousseau)have destroyed France" (meaning him). And Voltaire said: “books rule the world, or at least those nations which have a written language..." (http://www.pressjohn.com/schoolStuff/historynotes/French%20revo4class.html). The king said ... "who will cultivate our fields if the peasants get educated?" and he was not without reason: in the next years many farmers came to the city... and a revolution was born (Just for the record: I prefer evolution over revolution).
If we don't have Linux/Sugar we are wounded. But we will survive. All these other factors are the ones that have the real potential to kill the educative project and transform it in a political/economical movement without real big importance in the education of poor children.
We live in "an unweeded garden" (Hamlet). Too much "Sugar" and too little "coffee" (my words).
Javier Rodriguez Peru May 01 12:17 AM Lima, Peru