Poor nations gain more choices in computing

There is debate on whether developing nations should invest in computers over classrooms and textbooks

Other aid organizations focus more on building classrooms and filling them with books.

Room to Read, a nonprofit from the US, focuses on some of the poorest areas in the world, including rural Nepal and Vietnam.

Founded by a former Microsoft executive, Room to Read works with local communities to build libraries for as little as US$4,000, and schools with several classrooms for around US$20,000 to US$35,000. The group also builds computer labs at a cost of about US$30,000 in some schools, but uneven development within countries means only some areas are suitable for such labs, like big cities with reliable power grids.

Everything the group does is funded by donations.

That an increasing number of companies and organizations are working with developing countries on computing issues is good news for people in poor areas, especially where they have little or no access to electronic devices or the Internet.

But most of these giving efforts are young and must continually refine and improve their efforts, and in some cases, their motivation. They are working in extreme conditions, deserts, jungles and mountains, as well as in villages so poor they can barely afford classrooms, much less electricity or Internet connections.

There are 4 billion people in the world living in poverty today, according to a recent report by the World Resources Institute, a US think tank. Their income levels range from US$3.35 a day in Brazil to US$2.11 in China and US$1.56 in India, the report said.

School systems in such nations have as little as US$20 per year per student to spend. Other issues, such as a lack of school buildings in some communities and difficulty in finding qualified teachers, are even a bigger headache.

The central African country of Rwanda, for example, is promoting computer use in schools in order to create a more technology-oriented economy, and the nation's technology minister says computers can cut certain costs if they last a long time.

"The cost of a computer is lower than five to six textbooks over five to six years," said Romain Murenzi, Rwanda's Minister of Science, Technology and Scientific Research. Textbooks don't last so long in his country because of the dampness in many areas, and wear and tear, he said.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Dan Nystedt

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?