Open Tech Today - Top Stories

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

A Laptop for Every Child, in Thailand

It's official. Thailand's (current) Prime Minister officially announced plans to provide every primary school child a laptop free of charge.

It is a bold policy. It will cost millions to deliver, even though Thailand is partnering with the One Laptop per Child project which will provide laptops at a cost of $100 each. And yes, a country like Thailand still has pressing social needs that require more resources. But, Thailand sees that it will never get where it wants to be without dramatic steps to eliminate its digital divide among its youngest generation.

There are complaints about the laptop. It does not have a hard drive. The price of computers is dropping every year, and companies are already starting to market laptops under $500.

All true.

But flash drives, web services and online storage are tomorrow. Hard drives are yesterday.

And companies? Yes, computers are getting cheaper. But not cheap enough to ensure every child can afford one in Thailand, or the U.S. The "One Laptop per Child" project has challenged the market. Companies will respond if governments (and others) move enough units. That is how competition works. Demand driving supply, and innovation.

Now, if Thailand can match trained teachers and engaging content with those $100 laptops, it will see exciting things happen in the future of its children.

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