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The true cost of one laptop per child

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Late last year Uruguay landed its first shipment of 100,000 units of the much lauded, sometimes criticised XO laptop from the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) organisation. Buoyed by that success, Walter Bender, president software and content at OLPC effused over the next countries in line for the little green machine. The question is, however, can the likes of Peru, Mexico, Ethiopia, Haiti, Rwanda, Mongolia and a myriad of other impoverished countries stump up with the cash needed to join the OLPC bandwagon? The sums are not that difficult to do.

It is not that difficult to see how Uruguay came to be first cab off the rank with OLPC. With a population of just 3 million, of which about 370,000 are children between the ages of six and 12 years, the total cost to supply XO laptops at $188 each to all the kids in the target group is around $70 million. That's not cheap but for Uruguay it's affordable because this not exactly an impoverished country filled with illiterate children.

A quick look at the website reveals that Uruguay has a 98% literacy rate and a per capita GDP of $9600 (about one third that of Australia, Canada and the major Western European countries).

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