The government of
Uruguay was very enthusiastic about the project, and created "Plan
Ceibal" (Education Connect) to fund and distribute XO-1 OLPC
laptops to every state-funded elementary school in the country.
Uruguay was the first country to place a full order for XO-1 laptops,
with an initial 100,000 order in October 2007. It was also the first
to deploy them in a non-pilot project just two months later.
the last two years, 18,000 teachers have distributed 380,000 laptops
to every student between the ages of six and twelve. Approximately
70% of the XO-1 laptops handed out by the government were given to
children who did not have computers at home.
goal of the OLPC project was to develop a $100 laptop, but that
out of reach. The government of Uruguay states that it has spent
$260 per child, which includes the costs of maintenance, equipment
repairs, training for the teachers and internet connections. Annual
maintenance costs are around $21 per child.
Uruguay was the
first country in Latin America to provide free compulsory schooling
for its population, and believes that participation in the OLPC
project will help to raise standards of living even more quickly. The
total cost so far represents less than 5% of the country's education
"This is not simply the handing out of laptops or
an education program. It is a program which seeks to reduce the gap
between the digital world and the world of knowledge," stated
Miguel Brechner, the director of Plan Ceibal.
laptops in Uruguay use the Linux operating system with a user
interface named "Sugar". Detractors have criticized the
lack of a Windows operating system, stating that it is needed in
order to created marketable computer skills. However, Windows has
only been available in XO-1 laptops since
late last year.
Insufficient electrical and internet
infrastructure are just some of the challenges that Project Ceibal
has faced. Some rural areas have required the deployment of solar
power generators, while other areas still lack Internet connections.
The situation is similar in other countries like Peru, which has
almost 300,000 XO-1 laptops.
Those aren't the only
problems facing students eager to use their computers. Insufficient
teacher education has meant that some students are learning to use
computers at the same time as their teachers. The government training
program only takes a single day to complete. Some older teachers have
shunned the laptops, preferring to stick to older methods of teaching
rather than appearing incompetent in front of their pupils.
may explain why other countries have been hesitant to adopt OLPC
laptops in large scale national programs. Only Uruguay, Peru,
Columbia, India, and Rwanda have or are planning OLPC adoption
programs to more than 100,000 students. However, there are smaller
scale or pilot projects in more than two dozen countries.
a culture shock scenario; many countries are simply too scared to put
it into practice," explains Brechner.
Since every primary
school student now has a laptop, the government of Uruguay is now
considering an expansion program to include children in kindergarten
and those in secondary schools that do not yet have a laptop.
quote: Some kids would go home and never stop learning. They would excel in their classrooms. How can that be a bad thing?