Sugar and Toys: An Educational Perspective

A month after the commencement of the 2007-08 school year in the Philippines, the same ol’ hindrances to child learning can be heard: lack of classrooms and facilities, low wages for public school teachers which compel a lot of them to seek greener pasteurs elsewhere, the great number of children starting elementary but not even reaching high school, the perennial rise in the cost of private school education and a whole slew of other problems in the education system of this country.

On Computers

Delving on the problem of facilities, I think that the education sector should take a look at computer literacy more closely however. Sure there are organizations and institutions which try to help schools provide decent machines to every children but the ratio’s still far-fetched from 1:1.

I’d like to see low-cost laptops, called the XO machines, make its way to our public schools here though. These machines, (shown in the picture here which was taken from the article as well,) are part of the One Laptop Per Child project for this year. The project itself was the brainchild of Nicholas Negroponte having started it at the Media Lab of Massachusetts Institute of Technology 2 years ago before turning it into a nonprofit endeavor.

The relatively affordable alternative featured early this year’s comparatively more affordable at $150, (less than Php 7,500,) and given its features, (small size, lack of high specifications compared to other laptops and different terminologies and practices arising from the usage of its OS, Sugar,) it should be interesting to see how its usage pans out among the students. Since Sugar is a “slim” version of the Linux OS, it should be also be interesting as well how computer schools and colleges which place so much emphasis on the Microsoft way would react if such thing happens here.

Negroponte in fact said that he deliberately wanted to avoid giving children computers they might someday use in an office because the laptop was intended to stimulate education more successfully than other endeavors have done before.

On Toys

Another instructional material lacking in public schools are educational toys. As emphasized by Professor Sally McGregor of University College London’s Institute of Child Health in this article mentioning the research of an international group of experts on educational underachievement in developing countries:

Research over decades in Jamaica and other countries has shown that women with only primary school-level education and a few home made toys can be trained to make a significant difference in the education, intelligence and mental health disadvantaged children.

Such projects, encouraging learning through play, had led to children’s attaining higher IQs and getting better reading skills…

Also according to Professor McGregor:

It was well known that the ability of children to do well at school depended, to some extent, on their IQ level when they arrived in reception class.


One Response

  1. […] first wrote about XO in this blog entry after having heard about it early this year. Apparently the laptop bannered as a serious economical […]

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