Frederick_Noronha on Sun, 3 Feb 2008 04:57:25 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> The 4000-rupee computer shows up in Goa

The 4000-rupee computer shows up in

January 30, 2008 at 11:18 pm (FLOSS in
?? Edit<>

[image: OLPC] <>

Rut Pinto Viegas Jesus (yellow, right), demos a model of the OLPC at

PANJIM, Jan 30: Goa, a small state with some early initiatives at taking
computing to students and school, scored another early attempt when the One
Laptop Per Child (OLPC) computer was demoed here at a low-profile event.

The One Laptop per Child association (OLPC) is a non-profit organization,
created by faculty members of the MIT Media Lab, set up to oversee The
Children's Machine project and the construction of the XO-1 "$100 laptop".

This tiny and unusual computer was demoed at the monthly meeting of
ILUG-Goa, the Free Software and Open Source user group that meets at the Goa
Science Centre in Miramar, last Saturday (Jan 26, 2008).

The XO-1, previously known as the $100 Laptop or Children's Machine, is an
inexpensive laptop computer intended to be distributed to children in
"developing: countries around the world, to provide them with access to
knowledge, and opportunities to "explore, experiment and express themselves"
(constructionist learning).

The laptops can be sold to governments and issued to children by schools on
a basis of one laptop per child. Pricing is currently set to start at US$188
and the goal is to reach the $100 mark in 2008.

But such computers are hard to come by here. This is more so as India
rejected the initiative, saying "it would be impossible to justify an
expenditure of this scale on a debatable scheme when public funds continue
to be in inadequate supply for well-established needs listed in different
policy documents."

Ms. Rut Pinto Viegas Jesus, a Copenhagen-based PhD researcher of
Goan-Portuguese ancestry, managed to bring down one model of the computer,
while visiting Goa on holiday and a family visit to her relations in Santa
Cruz and Salcete.

OLPC, which has caused a lot of excitement worldwide, and promises to take
computing to children in the less-affluent world, espouses five core
principles ??? child ownership; low ages; saturation; connection; and free and
open source.

Incidentally, inspite of its small size and otherwise technological
low-rating, Goa has managed to undertake some initiatives in spreading the
use of computers, albeit with mixed results.

In the 1990s, expat Goans supported and launched the Goa Computers in
Schools Project (GCSP), which despite the odds and a number of hurdles,
shipped in a couple of containers of once-used computers, to be refurbished
and used in some local schools. Nearly 400+ computers were distributed this

After the BJP government came to power in 2000, then chief minister Manohar
Parrikar launched the hi-visibility Cyberage scheme, which gave almost-free
computers to college students.

So far, the jury is out on the Cyberage scheme, with some questioning its

Critics focus on the shortcomings of a scheme which gave tens of thousands
of computers to students ??? sometimes more than one in a family ??? without
clear plans for using the same, even while school computer labs and teachers
sometimes lacked the facilities.

Meanwhile, the GCSP project was itself scaled down and wound up, due to
factors ranging from donor-fatigue and a lack of volunteers, to the growing
availability of computer hardware here, which was not as costly as it once

Rut, visiting Goa this week, is doing her PhD in Copenhagen, on issues
related to the Wikipedia, the surprisingly-successful volunteer-driven
online encyclopedia that has built itself into one of the top ten
most-visited sites in the world.

Her to visit her grandmum and family in Santa Cruz and "to get some sun",
she said: "I'm also keen to meet other Goans interested in the stuff I am,
and will bring my newly arrived XO-1 (OLPC) and that might also be

Earlier in January 2008, Free Software and Open Source campaigner Venkatesh
'Venky' Hariharan shared his experiences in visiting an the OLPC deployment
in Khairat, which is around 55 kilometres outside Mumbai.

This deployment is supported by Reliance, one of the largest industrial
groups in India, and is the first in India.

"The deployment is two months old and the parents, children and teachers are
very enthusiastic about this project," reported Venky.

At the meet in Miramar, local techies, educationists and others showed
interest in the computer-for-kids, while Rut Jesus explained how the project
worked. Her friends have been involved in the project, which she praised as
"very self-motivated".

Some voiced disappointment that India had turned down the project without
giving it a good try. Educators decried the policy of keeping students away
from playing around with technology and hard-ware.

Others pointed to tools like Gcompris, a free software suite for children
between 2 to 10 years of age, and their potential to make learning computing
a pleasurable activity.

Some queries focussed on its innovative screen, the ability to use it "as a
book", the XO-1's ability to 'mesh network' with other computers of its
kind, and how young techies could get access to the code and specifications
needed for them to contribute software back to the project.

Blogged with Flock <>

Frederick Noronha Ph +91-832-2409490
The Goa books blog:
Goa1556 (alt.publishing.goa):

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