The Inter American Development Bank recently published the results of a study of the Peruvian schools that received OLPCs in rural primary schools in Peru, over the first 15 months of the program.
The methodology of the study was quite good, with a randomized study of over 300 schools.Â But the measurements and focus were not aligned with the goals of Peru’s program, and there is no clear way to compare these results with the other detailed results available from Plan Ceibal’s program in Uruguay.Â The after-analysis of their work has tended to focus on short-term math and reading results, whereas the goals of the program were access to knowledge, improvements in pedagogy, and access to computing – which might be expected to show up in the short term only in the abstract cognitive results.
The measured improvement in abstract thinking – roughly 5 additional months of cognitive development, over a 15-month period – is tremendous. It is interesting to note how this result is downplayed in parts of the world where schools live by less abstract standardized testing.
Some recent comments from OLPC staff and implementers, paraphrased for brevity:
‘The OLPC program in Peru, or any other place, has to be evaluated according to its initial goal. “math, language, and cognitive test results” showed outputs, but have no clear connection to Peruâ€™s 2007 stated objectives, which targeted pedagogical training and application.’
Oscar Becerra, who oversaw OLPC in Peru’s government:
‘We succeeded in giving access to technology to 100% (220,000) of children and teachers at one-teacher schools, who otherwise would have had no opportunity to use ICT.Â Most had the option to take laptops home with them.’
Oscar has published other comments that are a good representation of the OLPC perspective.