[AI] Working towards one laptop per school

renuka warriar erenuka at gmail.com
Mon Jun 30 21:55:36 EDT 2008

Date:01/07/2008 URL: http://www.thehindu.com/2008/07/01/stories/2008070156352400.htm 

Front Page 

Working towards one laptop per school 

Anand Parthasarathy 

New scheme from Kerala's IT at School programme 
Students at an IT fair at the Munderi Vocational Higher Secondary School in Wayanad district of Kerala try their hands at a laptop computer. 

Thiruvananthapuram: The much-hyped computer initiative for the world's children, mooted by Nicholas Negropante of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
was named One Laptop Per Child (OLPC). The pragmatic planners of Kerala's Information Technology programme for schools, have set themselves a more achievable
target: One Laptop Per School (OLPS) but that is just for starters.

Having fuelled the IT revolution in education by providing over 1,000 State-funded schools with three personal computers each last year, with a Rs.51-crore
grant from the Centre, Kerala's IT at School programme has just launched a new scheme to harness the next instalment of Rs.10 crore: They are procuring laptop
computers one for every government school which will help teachers, prepare multimedia instructional material and carry them from class to class, together
with a state-of-the-art digital projector which has already been provided.

"Thanks to the negotiating power we commanded by bundling the entire State's requirement, we were able to procure the desktop PCs last year at almost 30
per cent lower prices than the lowest rate offered to the Director General of Supplies and Disposals (DGS&D)," says Anvar Sadath, Executive Director of
the IT at Schools programme.

"We hope to achieve similar pricing with laptops and expect to procure good configurations for around Rs.20,000 a piece. For the projectors based on the
latest Digital Light Processor (DLP) technology, we obtained prices that were half the DGS&D rates."

The programme expects to gradually expand the base of laptops given to schools and will shortly put in place a loan scheme that will allow teachers to acquire
personal machines at the bulk rate obtained by the State from leading manufacturers. "We could well provide more laptops to each school but first we have
to help the schools to beef up their security arrangements: many of them do not have a safe way to store the machines."

Kerala's educational planners have been among the first to realise that the power requirements of large computer installations can be a formidable recurring
expense: desktop machines need uninterruptible power supplies and if the network in a school is large, even some airconditioning. These are proving to
be major annual outflows. The future lies in low power platforms like laptops, they feel.

Portable platforms like laptops will also allow schools to access the Internet more easily: Mr. Sadath told The Hindu on Monday, that the government hopes
to tie up with the public sector BSNL to provide wireless Net access cards for the laptops at a special rate which will make every machine a broadband

The procurement processes are almost complete and some 1,000-State run and aided high schools should have their laptops by September, with another 3,000
schools including higher secondary and vocational schools being equipped during the current academic year, he added.

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