India shuns One Laptop Per Child

India worried about the 'vulnerable children' who may suffer 'physical and psychological effects of intensive exposure to computers.'

India has essentially rejected Nicholas Negroponte's One Laptop Per Child project. India's Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) announced: "India must not allow itself to be used for experimentation with children in this area."

The Times of India reports that the ministry based its rejection on technical, social and financial grounds after Negroponte sought to sell one million laptops at the rate of $100 per unit, with the cost to be borne by the government.

HRD commented that the money would be better spent on primary and secondary education. The ministry also stated that says 6-12 is a highly "vulnerable age group to cover in an area of human technology interface which is so new and heavily debated." They are concerned about "both physical and psychological effects of children's intensive exposure to the computer implicit in OLPC are worrisome, to say the least."

All of which is to say that India doesn't plan to foot the bill for "Negroponte's Folly." But, one might be forgiven for thinking that a couple hundred million provided by the World Bank might satisfy their qualms about the children.

HRD questioned "why no developed country has been chosen" for MIT's OLPC experiment "given the fact that most of the developed world is far from universalising the possession and use of laptops among children of 6-12 age group."

Because the whole point is to aid the developing world?

Arguing that the "implications of computer-based pedagogy for childhood have remained a grey zone of research," the ministry gives the example of the US where "the debate between those who believe computers to be good for children and those who have the opposite view has been quite polarised and shrill."

The idea is not completely dead, however, as Negroponte still has a chance to sell OLPC to India's planning commission where he has garnered a fair amount of support.