4.3 Distribution

 

Under the one-to-one LCCD philosophy, each child has his or her own computer. In practice, however, this may be difficult for most developing nations to achieve, given the enormous expense of outfitting each child with a computer -- particularly in countries with large populations of children.

 

Although one-to-one computing may be a long-term strategy, in the short term, governments may have to make choices about which schools and which students should benefit immediately from LCCDs, and which populations will have to wait. One of the first distribution choices is deciding which grades should benefit from the program. Many programs and most LCCD features are aimed at primary schools, but there have also been implementations in secondary and even tertiary-level institutions.  

 

One approach may be to establish initial pilot projects in different school environments.  In a monitored environment, authorities can then test how LCCDs will be used in those different school situations.  They can compare LCCD pilots in urban and rural settings, with public and private schools, and with younger and older students. 
 
This was the approach taken in Haiti, where a representative sample of different school environments was selected.73 Determining a representative sample size will determine the number of LCCDs that will be needed for a pilot to ensure a scientifically accurate evaluation across a range of school environments.
 
Saturation
 
Another distribution strategy is saturation. This involves selecting a small number of schools, but then providing LCCDs to all students, in all grades, in those schools. The benefit of this approach is that the pilot can be tested across a range of grades in one environment. Also, this often requires fewer LCCDs and minimizes resentment among children that might arise if some students have LCCDs and others do not.74
 
One way of achieving saturation with a wider school distribution is through sharing the LCCDs, particularly where schools are operated in shifts. For example, this was done in a few areas of Brazil. One drawback is that students cannot take the LCCDs home to share with parents. This can be an issue where the intent is to implicitly raise household computer and Internet connectivity by having parents and siblings use the devices.  It may also be a problem if school administrators are counting on students to recharge the LCCDs' batteries at home. 
   
Another factor influencing the distribution for testing would be school and community acceptance. In Afghanistan this was one of the reasons cited for the selection of the first pilot school:
 
"The parent's attitude, community acceptance, teacher's and school's representative overall attitude towards OLPC were the major factors for selection. Also the school size and the number of students in that school was the best match for our first pilot school."75
 
Electricity
 

The goal of many LCCD programs is to provide computers in rural areas. The main factor impacting this is the availability of electricity. For example, Brazil’s ProInfo project established specific pre-qualification criteria for schools interested in obtaining computers.  One of those prerequisites was the existence of electricity (see table below). Governments can install electricity in rural areas that are targeted for LCCD programs. However, the costs can be high, particularly if the area is a long distance from the electricity grid. Other options include providing stand-alone solutions, such as diesel-powered generators or solar energy. Another consideration for areas with a lack of electricity is the type of LCCD selected. Some offer a number of off-grid and human-powered solutions for re-charging the battery.

 

 
Table 4-1: School Selection Criteria for Brazilian ProInfo Project
  Rural Urban
Type of School Elementary Elementary
Number of Students >50  
Electricity Yes Yes
Informatic lab No No
 
Distribution Timetable
 
If the decision is taken to scale-up the program to incorporate the whole country, a timetable will be needed, since not all of the devices can be distributed simultaneously. In Uruguay, LCCDs were distributed: 
  • First, to a school in a pilot school in one province,
  • Second, to all the schools in the same province, then
  • Third, to all schools nationwide except for the capital, and finally
  • Fourth, to the capital (see figure below).
The process will take approximately three years, but it will ensure that the less-privileged schools outside the capital receive LCCDs first. In Brazil, the current phase of the LCCD program calls for distributing 150,000 LCCDs to 10 schools in each of its 27 provinces, as well as in five municipalities.

  

Figure 4-2: Sequencing LCCD Distribution in Uruguay
 Note: Departments are the top level administrative unit in Uruguay equivalent to a province or state. There are 19 departments in Uruguay.
Source: Plan Ceibal.
 
Another concern might be to prevent LCCD distribution only to the most privileged elements of the population. Most of the trials and deployments to date, however, have adopted a conscious policy of distributing computers to public (rather than private) schools, generally outside urban areas. In order to avoid allegations of favoritism or corruption, the rationale and plan for LCCD distribution should be documented and made publicly available.


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 73 http://idbdocs.iadb.org/wsdocs/getdocument.aspx?docnum=1364380

74 Schools in the Solomon Islands requested that they be saturated in the next phase of trials but the education ministry decided that evaluating the impact across different provinces was more important. http://wiki.laptop.org/images/c/ca/Solomons_OLPC_Deployment_Report_Aug08.pdf
 
 
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