Four years after
An evaluation of the nearly 1 million computers given through the One Laptop Per Child program in
In addition to
The IADB study of more than 300 schools in rural
But it also showed that the more than 900,000 children that received free laptops from the government showed no improvement in their math and reading skills.
In an article about the report,
Last week, I asked IADB education expert
"These programs are a work in progress. Our recommendation is to continue them, and to improve them," Severin said.
The good news is that the program allowed both children and teachers in rural areas who had never seen a computer get access to technology, inserting them overnight into the digital age. Also, the laptop-equipped children in
The bad news was that, in addition to now showing any concrete results in math and reading tests, there was no evidence that the laptops motivated children to study more, or to attend school more regularly, he said. The machines by themselves are not improving educations standards, he said.
"Negroponte's idea that throwing laptops from a helicopter into a village would dramatically improve education standards didn't pan out," Severin told me. "At least in
To make these programs work better,
In addition, countries need more teacher training before they start giving out school computers. In many Peruvian schools, teachers got only 40 hours of training before facing their newly digitalized classes, which barely helped them to learn how to use the machines, he said.
"Many of the Peruvian rural schools that were looked at in the study did not have electricity nor Internet access," Arboleda said. "If you did that same study in
My opinion: Education is a long-term project, which takes years to translate into better test results. And the IADB's conclusion that the school laptops in
The massive laptop distribution plans have been a social success, in that they are giving poverty-stricken children self-esteem and a sense of opportunity. And they are helping shake many of
Now, it's time to take the next step and turn these programs into an educational success, complementing them with educational software, teacher training programs and higher academic targets. If that's done, they will become a Latin American success story.
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