Thailand plans massive free laptop project for schoolchildren

18 Aug 2006

Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra announced that an ambitious project to provide low-cost laptop computers to all of Thailand's millions of elementary school students will begin in October.
The 'One Laptop Per Child' project aims to deliver up to 30 computers to Thailand in October and 500 more in November, Thaksin said in a nationwide radio broadcast.
'If this project is completed, each elementary school child will receive a computer to learn on at school,' Thaksin said.
He said the first batch of laptops, costing around $100 each, will be distributed to children in rural areas where access to technology is limited. Those children will test the computers before the government proceeds with the project nationwide. The laptops are not yet in production.
The Thai government adopted the project a year ago after Thaksin met the 'One Laptop Per Child' project's founder, Nicholas Negroponte, the state Thai News Agency reported.
Some critics say the project misallocates resources and that governments in developing countries would do better to invest in providing for more basic needs.
The machines are being designed to be cheap and sturdy, and have minimum running costs. They will use the free Linux operating system, flash memory instead of a hard drive, and according to Thaksin will be able to run on an outboard electricity generator that is pumped by hand.

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