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Education Software Handhelds Wireless Networking Linux Hardware

Linux Handhelds in African Schools 148

Posted by timothy
from the all-depends-on-execution dept.
blastard writes "Seems some students will be getting to use their Linux handhelds in school without getting into trouble. BBCNews has a story on fifth-graders in Kenya who will be using "E-slates" from EduVision. The EduVision site is available in German, English and Swahili."
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Linux Handhelds in African Schools

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  • Ha. Ha. Ha. Sigh...I kill me...
  • Multilingual (Score:5, Informative)

    by tagish (113544) on Tuesday March 01, 2005 @04:40AM (#11810927) Homepage
    The EduVision site is available in German, English and Swahili.

    No it isn't. Only the English link works. Quality fact checking as ever :)
  • Wish we had these... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Tavor (845700) on Tuesday March 01, 2005 @04:40AM (#11810928)
    When I was in Fifth grade, I would have loved having a computer issued to me. Would have greatly furthered my abilities as far as computers go. Of course, there are many problems with this. Textbooks don't run out of batteries, which can be a problem sometimes in rural, third world areas. Think about it, these old textbooks aren't updatable, but they have lasted much longer than these handhelds will likely will. Also, here in the United States we sometimes had more technology in the classroom than our teachers knew what to do with, and that canbe a problem as the students here likely have never seen such devices before. There will be no 'geek-students' to help the teacher, after the Company man leaves. Upgrading from books so soon, when we are still using books in America sounds like a double-edged sword to me.
    • by dhbiker (863466)
      From what I read on the bbc web the devices are going to be recharged each day at school by docking them into cradles that will be powered off a solar panel on the roof.

      Why shouldn't these handhelds last 10 years (or more)? I mean most people upgrade simply to have the latest greatest thing. These handhelds already do everything they need to, the only thing I could see being a necessity is changing the rechargable batteries once the original ones begin going flat too quickly
      • by fireboy1919 (257783) <rustyp.freeshell@org> on Tuesday March 01, 2005 @05:09AM (#11811018) Homepage Journal
        They get dropped and stepped on once, and the screen breaks.

        They fall out of a window, and the screen breaks.

        A can of food falls on one, and the screen breaks.

        They fall of a desk and hit a sharp object (like, for instance, a pencil poking out of a bookbag), and the screen breaks.

        They either need to not use touch screens and use a very thick pane of plastic (this won't work with touch screens, and if you can't figure out why I'm not going to explain it), or they need to get the screens for cheap and be capable of swapping them out for cheap.

        I don't think that cheap parts are beyond the realm of feasability, though. A lot of the price of current electronics is in the percieved price. There's not a great reason why a $500 electronic device is more expensive than a $100 device. It's all based on what the market can bear, and in this case, it can obviously bear very little.
        • ...use a very thick pane of plastic (this won't work with touch screens, and if you can't figure out why I'm not going to explain it)...

          There is more than one kind of touchscreen. I have a touchscreen monitor that has nothing special on the surface of the glass that can wear off, no it doesn't use IR. And if you can't figure out what it is I'm not going to explain it...

          OK, I just can't troll, I'll explain it. It bounces ultrasonics across the glass. Your finger dampens it, and it detects where and how t

        • Although these won't be used in schools (yet...?) I remember an experiment in which a gorilla was using a touchscreen in conjunction with a computer as part of a psychological experiment. The screen was, I think, ultrasonic; in any case, the outer layer was inch thick Makrolon. As the gorilla used to signal frustraton and a desire to stop work for the day by charging the screen full on, it needed to be.

          But then, hardened computers need not be that expensive. I remember the original Husky, and I still feel I

    • by millwall (622730) on Tuesday March 01, 2005 @04:50AM (#11810958)
      There will be no 'geek-students' to help the teacher, after the Company man leaves.

      I dont think you should underestimate children in any part of the world.

      Give computers to a group of school kids in Dallas, Tokyo, Africa or anywhere and one or two curious of them will understand the in and outs of them in notime.
      • by The Mutant (167716) on Tuesday March 01, 2005 @05:56AM (#11811122) Homepage
        I'm EMEA (Europe, The Middle East and Africa) Manager for a multinational financial services institution. Either myself or someone from my team spend a lot of time on client site at banks in Africa, so we've got some insight.

        We take a lot for granted in the developed world. Even at the better run banks in Africa things we could do in less than a day take two or more.

        Part of the problem is infrastructure : for example, the power in Lagos goes out constantly. Even the banks with UPS' get caught out sometimes.

        Part of it is education : the skills just aren't as widely available as compared to the developed countries. Lot's of times it's the blind helping the blind. Yep, they muddle through but it takes far longer.

        The OP had more insight into this problem : after the Company Man leaves there definitely will be loads of these devices that are unusable. Efforts of the curious children asdie, we see it all the time in the banks - why would it be different in the remote villages?

        Oh and I'm not knocking these folks; they're just doing the best they can and I actually enjoy going down there to help them, but things are a lot different in Africa.

        In case you're curious I've got few pix from my last visit/a : [you-suck.com]

        • I agree with you; I have not been in Africa myself. Anyone interested in the subject of Africa and what effects international aid have should read the following excellent book by Paul Theroux "Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to Cape Town." Mr. Theroux worked with the Peace Corps in Africa some 40 years ago and recently traveled from Cairo to Cape Town (literally) observing and taking notes on what he saw. One of the main theses of his book is that the international aid organizations are doing more h
      • by aussie_a (778472) on Tuesday March 01, 2005 @06:49AM (#11811251) Journal
        Give computers to a group of school kids in Dallas, Tokyo, Africa or anywhere and one or two curious of them will understand the in and outs of them in notime.

        But give them a spell-checker and they'll still be wondering how to use it after 14 years.
      • That's for sure, look how well the Nigerians took to the internet ;-)
      • Anyone remember the experiment where they put a computer in a vacant lot in (i believe) Bangladesh where a group of poor children played? None of them had never seen a computer before, yet by the end of a month or so, they had written a text file to the administrator saying that they had removed the monitoring programs that were spying on their usage.

        i think it was on /. but i can't find the link
    • by Anonymous Coward
      This post was typed on a nearly indestructable IBM Model M keyboard. These are awesome...two weeks ago I discovered a big box full of these, never been used, still in their original packing. I shoved all of my $10 plastic-fantastic keyboards into a closet and am now in 'click-clack' heaven! :-)
    • When I was in Fifth grade, I would have loved having a computer issued to me.
      Actually this statement would hold at any point in time not just in fifth grade. Noone hates free computers.
    • , these old textbooks aren't updatable, but they have lasted much longer than these handhelds will likely will.

      Isn't that the problem? They currently are stuck with really durable OUT OF DATE books. The textbooks are used well beyond when they should be thrown out.
      • I better call my local university. Apparently, old textbooks are of no use, and must be thrown out. This could save them tons of library space. We have a 6 floor main library. I'd say 80% of the books are more than 20 years old. They should really just trash them all. Maybe they could even convert that into classrooms.
    • by staeiou (839695)
      That's a pretty ignorant assumption you have about Africa. The African continent isn't one huge block of savage rural territory ruled by roving tribes. That would be like saying that everyone in Texas rides a horse to work; it might have been true two hundred years ago, but don't base your assumptions on what happened then. Lagos, Nigeria, has a population of over 8 million, which places it above New York City. There are countless other examples of cities that have not just running water and electricity
    • these old textbooks aren't updatable, but they have lasted much longer than these handhelds will likely will
      humph! here in egypt when we write something on stone, it lasts for thousands of years!
    • Perhaps, but in Africa you are talking about going from no or few or outdated text books to hundreds or thousands of regularly updated text books. This is certainly an improvement. In fact, it is the equivalent of building a library in each town where these devices are distributed.

      You should also consider that this is a perfect tool for children to practice writing. They can practice for hours without wasting paper and pencils and other materials.

      Also, because they are battery powered and probab

  • Seems solid (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Seculus (788503) on Tuesday March 01, 2005 @04:49AM (#11810951)
    This seems like a thoroughly good idea. It would enable the schools to have up to date textbooks without the need to buy a new set of books every time the author decides to release an update. Enterprising students should also find something in there to peak their interest - I know I would have loved to have one of these babies when I was that age !
    • Solid enough to use like this?

      http://wwwradig.informatik.tu-muenchen.de/~dress le r/jokes.html#Solutions%20for%20a%20small%20Planet
    • Re:Seems solid (Score:3, Insightful)

      by oirtemed (849229)
      That, or you could realize that texbooks rarely actually "go out of date", and any updates are usually drivel only intended to produce a new version to sell. I have a feeling this about a lot more thant having an alternative to books. They could easily be recycling out-of-use, landfill bound books from other countries if that were the case. It seems they are more interested in exposing kids to technology and its intrinsic benefits.
      • But they do go out of date eventually. There are schools right here in the USA that still have science textbooks that talk about putting a man on the moon as though it's something we're working toward. No joke there.
      • I totally agree with the fact that updates to text books are entirely based on publishers' need to sell more text books. However, would not removing the publishers from the whole picture be an even better proposal? If students in Africa, or even England, did not have to pay for text books at all, would that not be a great thing for schools? This seems like the perfect end run around the perpetual monopolies on information that the publishers have bought for themselves in the "developed" world.

    • Here is a pic [kijabe.org] of some of the text books used in one Kenyan School.

      Or for the page discussing a few things about schools in Kenya. [kijabe.org]

      Elsewhere [kijabe.org] Steve tells about his project to install some computer labs in these remote, almost forgotten, schools in Kenya. He currently has money for about 8 of them, with one being installed. I tried to convince him to use Linux, but he refused. I'll be there later this year, perhaps we can make a difference in some of these kid's lives.

      Michael

  • E-slate or iPaq? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by crahan11 (530704)
    The site mentions the E-slate and its slide out keyboard, yet all the pictures are of students using HP iPaqs. So what are they using?
  • by commodoresloat (172735) on Tuesday March 01, 2005 @04:52AM (#11810968)
    for children in some countries who want to make contacts in the US to help them smuggle millions of dollars out of their war-torn country
  • by SLi (132609) on Tuesday March 01, 2005 @05:01AM (#11810991)
    IANAAmerican, so pardon my ignorance, but do you actually get into trouble there for something like this?

    Why on earth?!
    • MPAA, RIAA and all the other *AAs, maybe?

      IANAA, either ... hey!
    • Not that I know of, but it's been a long time since I was in school.
    • The main reason students have "handhelds" in American schools is to play games of one kind or another. Even if they are not loaded with any games they are often a distraction as the kids tend to fiddle with them instead of paying attention to the teacher.

      And then there is the issue of cheating. You make crib sheets of the material that you are supposed to have memorized. During the test you just call up the info and write it down. I was doing this sort of thing with a graphing calculator in the early 90
      • The TI Graph-link and (Mandatory) TI-86 were the best tool for this in my first-year calculus classes. My algebra prof went to way of, use TI-30s for exams, and make the students actually know how to use concepts, rather than run the question through a program that the professor handed out to every one.
        • My teacher was even smarter. You could use any program that you wrote yourself. There's no way you can write a decent program that does any kind of math algorithm without understanding it very well.

          I took him up on the offer. Later I sent in one of the programs I wrote during his class to a scholarship commission and got a scholarship for it.

      • I had a friend who did that in high school, too. But RTFA:

        "We plan to put a solar panel at the school with the base station, have the E-slates charge during the day when the children are in school, then they can take them home at night and continue working."

        They would not be using the devices in class. They would be using the devices at home. Further, it would be simple to collect the devices before a test. Then that cheating avenue would be closed off.

        There is also the possibility that in a

        • RTFS(ummary)

          blastard writes "Seems some students will be getting to use their Linux handhelds in school without getting into trouble."

          This is what the GP was referring to but if you would rather just spout RTFA!!!111 be my guest :)

          I do wish that we could change the structure of the eduation system to focus on something more important like say LEARNING rather than test scores or grades but then how would the politicians and bureaucrats prove they "Made a difference"?!

          FWIW I didn't really consider what I
    • It's been a while since I was in school, but you'd be asked to put the device away if you were using it during class. Outside of class (e.g. during lunch time) would be fine though. Something like this could be seen as a distraction in the US schools if it is not specifically geared for educational use. So, if you brought in your PDA, most teachers would assume that you were playing games or goofing off in general and ask you to put it away. After repeat offenses, the teacher would probably confiscate t
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Those are awfully small screens.
    i)Does EduVision also have a company selling myopia-correction glasses?
    ii)I find it annoying enough when you have to keep flicking pages in a book, especially when studying. The pages of the eSlate will only allow a small amount of info to be visible at once. Perhaps they will use a hypertext format and have collapsible paragraphs (like text editor folds) to overcome some of the presentation difficulties.
    • Yes. That's exactly why I got my 19 inch flat panel screen. 1280x1024 doesn't sound that much larger than 1024x768, but in reality, it is. It's 1.66 times more viewable area. Everytime I go to do something on my handheld, I can't stop but think how bad of an idea it would be to put books on the thing. Either the text would have to be really small, or if sufficiently sized, you might be able to fit about 4 sentences on the screen. Many diagrams won't even fit on the screen. It would probably be better
  • by Anonymous Coward
    There'll still be fifth-graders when the aid agenceys leave, and as soon as these run out of batteries they'll be useless. This is always that case with foriegn aid, be it with hospitals or schools.

    AFAIK, most of western Kenya is pretty poor in terms of how much money most people have. (Food in rural areas generally isn't such a large problem thanks to subsistence farming.) For much of it education would be a luxury. I think this would have been better spent on building more schools.
  • by NerdConspiracy (858939) on Tuesday March 01, 2005 @05:15AM (#11811041)
    Nice idea in theory but oh so many problems in practice.

    The main one is the complexity of the system. I can't imagine primary schools in rural areas in Kenya (or for that matter here in US) having the expertise to fix the problems that will surely arise sooner or later.

    If the main goal is to give students access to the textbooks, why not simply preload the relevant ones on the handhelds and give them out to the schools, and do away with the whole satellite -> base station -> wireless network -> handheld business.

    At what intervals do the textbooks need to be updated/replaced anyway? Probably less that the average lifetime of the handheld computer in the hands of a 10 year old.
    • Why not just PRINT them?

      Paper/similar materials has been working, oh, for a few THOSAND of year! I'm all for tech but this is stupid.

      • Seems to me it's easier to move around some thousand handhelds computers than 6 * same number of textbooks (assuming 6 textbooks to cover a nice range of subjects).
        And you can (probably) use the handheld to annotate books and such.
        Also it's easier for a child to carry a handheld to school than 6 textbooks, or store that in the school.

        Disclaimer: this are some arguments i just thought of, maybe they are baseless :)
      • by R.Caley (126968) on Tuesday March 01, 2005 @06:16AM (#11811175)
        Paper/similar materials has been working, oh, for a few THOSAND of year!

        Also has a much better user interface, hence the, er, remarkable sucess of electronic book systems in the developed world. Also books are an environmental win, while any electronic system will be an environmental loss.

        OTOH, paper has a shorter lifetime in the hands of a 10 year old than a ruggedised electronic gadget should, so it's not obvious this is a silly idea. It will depend on the costs.

        These are clearly based on the old Zarus models, so the development and tooling costs to make them were presumably nil plus the ruggedisation. The networking infrastructure is now mass produced and probably relativly cheap.

        So it will come down to the expected costs of supplying up to date text books in all subjects, year on year over the lifetime of the hardware.

        It probably replaces some writing materials and testing/exam infrastructure too.

        On the whole though I suspect they'd be better off using the money to pay the teachers more, and maybe paying the parents of older kids to allow them to stay longer in school when they could be working.

  • by tomstdenis (446163) <tomstdenisNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday March 01, 2005 @05:26AM (#11811067) Homepage
    bah, waste of time and energy.

    I made it through elementary with an apple ][ in the corner of the class. Hell, we weren't allowed to have calculators until trig [e.g. high school or for science classes]. We had to "use our minds" ....You know what "educates" students very well? Interesting and educated teachers.

    I [and I'm sure everyone else] has had a teacher at a time that was totally ineffective of getting the lesson plan delivered. No amount of "e-technology" would "e-help" the students "e-absorb" information that they don't "e-want".

    Sure having access to computers is good but giving each student their own personal "e-slate" is just stupid. Specially given that the economic state there doesn't support it.

    Tom
    • I don't think that the benefit is in providing these kids with the technology. The benefit is in using the technology to enable them to have access to materials that they would otherwise not have.

      So rather than looking at it as a "ooh, shiney Linux handhelds to poor kids" type story instead look at it as a "using technology to fill a gap in resources" one. Text books can be expensive and pupils need more than one. The cost of the electronic system may be cheaper than the equivalent text books.

      I do take

      • I still don't see the case. Let's see. A "handheld computer + electricity for 6 hrs a day of classes" or a "small paperback book" ...

        I dunno where the idea came from that a textbook [specially for elementary] has to be big, made with pine covers, etc...A small 300g dover series style book was enough to teach people number theory, algebra and calculus... why can't it do them the same?

        Also if you factor in *WHY* they don't have resources [e.g. childish waring factions] then maybe people will ... PAY ATTEN
        • by TrappedByMyself (861094) on Tuesday March 01, 2005 @06:40AM (#11811225)
          So you propose solving all the big problems first? Solve world hunger before you teach little Jimmy to read?

          You're sterotyping the region. Kenya is not Congo or the Sudan. All of Africa is not covered with warmongering natives eating each other's hearts. Do they have the infrastructure of the US? No. But you're argument is like saying that a school in rural Idaho cannot get computers because there are poor people in Mexico. Only fat kids in Western nations can use computers? Or are you just afraid of more outsourcing as yet another part of the world becomes tech savvy?
          • About outsourcing... I'm a canadian working for an american....

            So yeah, educating them is all good an all. But is it really going to be effective and cost effective? Or is this just yet another company marketing something to make money.

            To put things in perspective I think the war in Iraq was a HUGE waste of money given how little americans spend on their own schooling. It's the same thing. If you want to better your society, yes educate them but also secure them. Is there enough food to go around? wi
        • Also if you factor in *WHY* they don't have resources [e.g. childish waring factions]

          Like Democrats and Republicans you mean?

          Maybe if they had more resort beaches in Africa people would get upset at the "disruption" a little "war" can cause...

          Er which war would that be? So far as I can remember, kenya has been involved in fewer wars recently than, for instance, the USA.

    • hell, im still not allowed a calculator and I'm in trig II, and yes i bought a TI-86 for the pure fact that i was told to buy one, and i only use it maybe for 5 mins every class.
    • Now, your class with the Apple ][ may have been technology poor, but it was probably information rich. You probably had textbooks, a school library and librarian, television, audiovisiual materials, maps, kits for performing enrichment in areas like science. And if this was not enough, this was probably backed by a magnificient public library.

      This doesn't even begin to count the private sources of information you had access to: newspapers, magazines, records, etc.

      It probably costs thousands of dollars p
    • If you did RTFA, your lack of reading comprehension skills really speaks volumes about your education...

      Yes, you did fine with Apple iis and no calculators. But at least I'll bet you had books. These kids don't. These people think it will be cheaper and easier overall to provide them books via handhelds rather than in the form of dozens of physical books. It has nothing to do with "e-sorbing" information, just trying to actually get them basic access to that information in as efficient a manner as poss

    • You also had current textbooks, notebooks, pencils, crayons, etc. You shouldn't scoff at this is not that easy. It's not about technology, it's about accessabilty. Schools today (in the US no less) *still* struggle with funding for current textbooks (which, I might add, are rather spendy even by US standards). If you can replace the cost (or in this case the basic lack of access to a Walmart) with technology it's properly applied. I actually see a stronger case in Africa than in the US for this because of t
  • There is really no way a wireless, battery powered handheld is cheaper than a desktop PC of the same capability (or even double the capability). This is really not a solution for the Third World.

    Look at similar efforts going on in other parts of the world like IT@School in Kerala. They are expermenting with LTSP servers and thin clients - where small local firms [netfirms.com] have support contracts. (Hell !!.. they even sell GNU/Hurd cds). Also all the textbooks are available on PDF [kerala.gov.in]as well.

    Pumping money into the

    • True be that, handhelds alone does not cut it.

      My impression of the eduvision site is however that the project is not technology centered, though a focus on such on slash. is no surprise.

      Worth recognizing though is that any and consistent support however does. So this project is a positive contribution, and we need more of such.

      Like any project in a development area, be it a student or a community, I hope the backers think long term strategic and haven't just assigned the necessary resources to launch it,
    • It's about awareness - a trickle down approach of feeding information.

      Well where do you propose that people get this information from? The whole point of this exercise is to give students access to more information.

      Also, some magic government isn't going to show up and try to fix everything (ummm unless the US invades them). That reform has to come from the people. That one kid in the class with the handhelds read everything he could. He grew up and went to the America for higher education, then returned
  • by NerdConspiracy (858939) on Tuesday March 01, 2005 @05:42AM (#11811101)
    Pardon me while I fall off my chair laughing. Project guttenberg and the like have been "computerizing" public domain books for years and they are up to what, 10,000 or so. Where is this great magical library of 15 million ebooks?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 01, 2005 @05:45AM (#11811104)
    Why is it that everytime someone mentions something on slashdot which happens in an african country (Kenya in this case) the post has to mention "Africa" as if it is one country.

    Kenya != whole of africa

    I live in an "African" country and this seems rediculous to me.

    Consider a couple of examples:

    If the story is about Americans college students you don't have a title:
    Students in North America...

    Similarly for a story about something in China or Germany you don't title the story:
    Scietists in Asia discover x
    or
    Scientists in Europe discover y

    You you title it:
    Scientists in China discover x
    and
    Scientist in Germany discover y.

    The other thing that bugs me is that posters talk as if everyone from "Africa" is mentally handicapped or something.

    Change the title to : LINUX handhelds in KENYAN schools!
    • The US hasn't fought a major war in Sub-Saharan Africa yet. We haven't killed the evil doers and brought liberty to the people. Of course they're still mentally handicapped. Duh!
    • There are a lot more people in all the countries you named. Also, Germany is special. A lot of Engineering news comes out of Germany.

      Besides Germany, which earns special fame due to it's accomplishments, the other countries you mentioned are much bigger than Kenya. I might also add that this is a US site, and therefore slightly slanted towards US news. If something came from the US, we'd like to know more specifically than even that - we'd like to know where in the US.

      I have a feeling that if you had
      • It's not just this site that is slanted, is the whole damn world media. Check out 10x10 [tenbyten.org], whcih is supposed to be a good representation of the media. It's all boring shit that has almost no perceptible relevance to most human beings. Nobody knows about Kenya because media doesn't concern itself with giving people the complex picture of what is happening in the world is why.
    • Funny, I've never gotten that impression nor even thought about some of the wild accusations that you make. I think they only person that is drawing these conclusions is YOU. I didn't see anything in the article that indicated that Africans are mentally handicapped or anything like that.

      Furthermore there is nothing wrong with the title, because Kenya is IN AFRICA. Therefore it is entirely accurate to call Kenyan schools African schools. Nobody is saying that as part of some big anti-African conspiracy
  • by RyoSaeba (627522) on Tuesday March 01, 2005 @05:52AM (#11811116) Journal
    They mention Google digitized books, but they could also grab content from http://www.wikipedia.org/ [wikipedia.org] - after all, that's what GFDL is for!
    Ok, some will argue quality / neutrality / completeness isn't guaranteed on all articles - i'll say it's better'an nothing [and biaises exist in every material / textbook]
  • by crypty (768045) on Tuesday March 01, 2005 @06:13AM (#11811167) Homepage
    Its amazing how far things are getting at this stage... My hats off to the fine people who are out to make this sort of education possible for kids around the world. Its just a tad scarey that in my day we only had home made paint and a cave wall... although there was that posh kid with his abacus.
  • Pretty cool stuff. Textbooks are very expensive in Africa. But my enthusiasm was tempered when reading...
    "Furthermore, because our network and software is proprietary, demand for stolen eSlates will be minimal - they simply will not work for uses other than those for which they were designed."
    They show they haven't really understood the GPL. But they're also saying is that people don't want proprietary software? :)
    • demand for stolen eSlates will be minimal - they simply will not work for uses other than those for which they were designed."


      Those who do not learn from their mistakes are condemmed to repeat them.

      The X-Box will only play MS software. The I-Opener will only work with their subscription service, The Cue Cat will only work with the Digital Convergance online database....

      Yea Right!
  • This reminds me of the time I was working with Karen tribals in Northen Thailand. I was contacted by a representative of Sun Micro who (as part of their charity program) wanted to give schools in the region computers so they could communicate children from other parts of the world. A noble idea but rather short sighted since these villages did not have electricity or so much as a phone line.

    If they really wanted to help the children then how about buying their land from the Forestry Commission so they did

  • Ho hum. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PHAEDRU5 (213667) <(instascreed) (at) (gmail.com)> on Tuesday March 01, 2005 @06:55AM (#11811268) Homepage
    These devices will be stolen as quickly as possible. After the thieves discover they won't work abywhere except on a proprietary network, they'll be discarded. Dumped in a river, something like that. Too much effort to actually return them.

    I give the program about three months.

    It's a nice idea, but I don't think it's sustainable.
  • Terminal Servers (Score:3, Informative)

    by LibrePensador (668335) on Tuesday March 01, 2005 @09:14AM (#11811930) Journal
    A nice remotely-administered Linux Terminal Server would have been much more effective. Bigger screens to read from and a bigger platform of applications available. Put the /home/schoolbooks on its own HD caddy and ship an updated once to the schools once a year upon receipt of the old one.

    Some links:

    http://pxes.net
    http://ltsp.org
  • I recently equipped a guy to go on a field resarch project in Kenya. He told me he would have to literally wear the entire kit (including a very bulky backpack satellite DGPS) 7x24 so it wouldn't be stolen. Maybe people have a different attitude towards communal property than property belonging to a rich foreigner.
  • The Simputer Linux PDA [tuxmobil.org] has a similar approach offering cheap Linux PDAs [tuxmobil.org] for India.

  • ...why aren't we doing things like this here? There are plenty of American kids without access to decent textbooks, or modern textbooks, or who have to share textbooks, etc. If this sort of thing can happen in places like Kenya and India, then why not here? (dammit?!?)
  • Dunno 'bout you (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Phoenix666 (184391) on Tuesday March 01, 2005 @11:41AM (#11813197)
    but I think it's pretty cool that Kenyan schoolchildren are getting devices for school that American and European kids don't have yet. There are bright minds everywhere, and if you water them they will blossom. And education is the best way possible for folks in developing countries to better their situation.

    I've always wondered if somewhere in Africa is the schoolkid who will someday cure cancer, if only he/she can get an opportunity from programs like these. After all, just by sheer numbers alone there should be several dozen Einsteins in the developing world, just waiting to be discovered. If the human mind is the greatest of all national resources, then the developing world is vastly wealthier than all the developed nations put together.
  • The girl in the ESlate pictures [eduvision.or.ke] does not look like she goes to a public school in Kenya. This is a nice score for Linux, but I think the title should read: "Kenyan Fifth-Graders from Well-To-Do Families recieve ESlates"

    As an aside, the public school in the town next to mine is trying to start giving out Free Laptops to all of its High School students. [schoolwires.com] Its great to see technology being introduced in schools.

  • For calculations, give the kids slide rules and they will learn about logarithms, etc., as well as about significant digits.

    For non-calculations, give the kids books, which require no batteries and last for a long time. (Books can also hold bookmarks and margin notes, and it's easy to find material in books because the brain remembers the "look" of where it was, e.g. it has a smart bookmark that reads something like "open halfway, then flip pages until a figure appears at the top left, then skip a few pa

  • Cool - Tux Paint [newbreedsoftware.com] 0.9.15 will be translated into Swahili! (It's already in CVS)

The use of anthropomorphic terminology when dealing with computing systems is a symptom of professional immaturity. -- Edsger Dijkstra

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