Home opinion-and-analysis Open Sauce OLPC using poor kids as guinea pigs

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With children in the US faring poorly in their studies, why is it that so-called ground-breaking projects like the One Laptop Per Child program were not first implemented in their country of origin?

After all, doesn't charity begin at home? (just Google for "american children doing poorly in reading and math" and spend the next six months reading).

There's a very good reason why the originators of this scheme, did not opt to experiment in their own backyard.

As a detailed survey of the OLPC project in Peru has shown, the program does nothing positive for children's education. For poor countries with limited budgets, it is an expensive waste of time.

Imagine the backlash OLPC would have faced if it had tried these experiments in constructionist learning in a suburb of Washington DC and the truth had come out as it has in Peru. The media would have been all over them, every TV network from CNN downwards would have exposed the truth about the operations, and the OLPC would have been forced to shut down.

Indeed, that would have been the experience if the OLPC had tried to implement its program in any major city of a developed country - which is why indigenous children have been the testing ground for OLPC Australia. Far away from the harsh glare of the 24-hour news cycle, people can do what they like and not be found out.

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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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