On June 4, the Electronics Corporation of the state of Tamil Nadu [ELCOT] floated an international tender for sourcing 912,000 laptops.Requirements include a 2.1GHz clock, 320G hard drive, 2G of RAM, 3 hour battery life, and an Intel chipset. Also required: Lin/Win dual-boot, a 36-month warranty, and managing regional repair centers across the country for 3+ years.
The Times of India reports that this is part of a long-term program to provide free laptops to 6.8M pre-college students across the state, and they are hoping for bids under $300 a unit. Unlike previous pronouncements about laptops for children, which were received much media attention with little result, this tender received comparatively little fanfare, and was focused on logistics. The tender closes in early July, and delivery is to start on September 1 of this year.
This free laptop program is a political promise made by the AIADMK party, which is currently in power. They worked through ALCOT to carry out a similar program in 2006, the Free Color Television Scheme, which provided color televisions to every family without one (4 million in all). In response to complaints that many of these televisions turned up on a grey market, they are mandating hardware and software marking of the machines to note they are from Tamil Nadu.
The AIADMK haven’t budgeted for the program yet, however: this week their Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa petitioned the central government in New Delhi for funds to support it.
This week, Argentina’s president Cristina Kirchner oversaw the launch of the La Rioja deployment and the handout of XOs to roughly 2,000 students. This was the public start to the 60,000-student deployment announced this spring, named the Joaquín V. González program after the distinguished politician and educator. The program will provide an XO to every primary school student and teacher in the province by next year.
Sabrina Díaz Rato reported on the event, with shout-outs to Claudia Urrea and Martin Langhoff, who are currently in Argentina helping the learning and technical teams of the project get off to a good start. But the most interesting part of the article comes at the end, where she summarizes related efforts by Walter Flores, Argentina’s Education, Science and Technology minister.
The La Rioja pilot is underway, with the first of 60,000 XOs being distributed and field reports coming in from reactivated’s Daniel Drake. Local news are reporting on the need to bring laptops to places where noone comes, and the value of Sugar to young learners.