But what exactly does the study say about the increase in cognitive skills? From the footnotes the tests used were, "The Ravens (Progressive Matrices test) are aimed at measuring non-verbal abstract reasoning, the verbal fluency test intends to capture language functions and the Coding test measures processing speed and working memory."
Becerra's other claims of positivity - increased computer use and competence in using laptops (once again his exact quotes cannot be found anywhere in the study) - do not come under the category of education. Indeed, I could have taught the Peruvian children how to climb coconut trees and then claimed that it was a useful skill (it is, in many Pacific countries) and hence I should receive a grant to teach the entire student population to do so.
Becerra offers up the excuse that the teachers were not up to the mark. Why then were the laptops deployed if, according to him, conditions were sub-optimal? We are talking about $US225 million of public money, not a small sum for a country like Peru despite its increased riches from mining.
He fails to get the point that if the experiment - and it is nothing but that - has proved of no educational benefit, then it has wasted some of the best years of learning for 850,000 children in Peru. Who accepts the responsibility for this form of child abuse?
When one teaches children, no matter what degree of technological change has occurred over the years, the basics are always the same - reading, writing and arithmetic. The ability to absorb anything in later years is totally dependent on these three skills.
The OLPC project does nothing for these skills - in Peru, despite there being 200 e-books provided on the laptops, there was no increase in reading. Neither was there any improvement in maths and language skills.
Why are people so reluctant to accept bare facts like these when they are presented so clearly? Do we need to educate the people behind the project first?
If the OLPC is so confident about the educational impact of its project, why doesn't it do something about the disastrous state of school education in the US?