Selected publications (.pdf)

"Education Change, Leadership and the Knowledge Society" 
Global e-Schools Initiative (GeSCI)  

Survey of ICT in education in the Caribbean
Volume 1: Regional trends & analysis
Volume 2: Country reports

Using technology to train teachers:
Appropriate uses of ICT for
teacher professional developmen
infoDev (Mary Burns, co-author)

Project evaluation:
Uganda rural school-based telecenters

World Bank Institute
(Sara Nadel, co-author)

The Educational Object Economy:
Alternatives in authoring &
aggregation of educational software 

Interactive Learning Environments
(Purchase or subscription req'd) 

Development of multimedia resources 
UNESCO (Cesar Nunes, co-author)

Real Access/Real Impact
Teresa Peters &
(hosted for reference; RIP TMP) 


Learning, technology & development


Entries in aidwatch (2)


Harsh. The costs of data-driven development 

OK, here it is at last, the fruits of 1000s of hours of research, and argument, suggesting that money spent on HIV/AIDS is not the most effective use of donor funds: 

On the grounds of Uganda’s biggest AIDS clinic, Dinavance Kamukama sits under a tree and weeps.

Her disease is probably quite advanced: her kidneys are failing and she is so weak she can barely walk. Leaving her young daughter with family, she rode a bus four hours to the hospital where her cousin Allen Bamurekye, born infected, both works and gets the drugs that keep her alive.

But there are no drugs for Ms. Kamukama. As is happening in other clinics in Kampala, all new patients go on a waiting list. A slot opens when a patient dies.

The cause of course is the drop in donor funding for anti-retrovirals and for treatment programs in developing countries. Everyone from BMGF to the US government is reducing, or limiting increases, in their funding for HIV/AIDS programs. Meanwhile, in Uganda....

 500,000 need treatment, 200,000 are getting it, but each year, an additional 110,000 are infected.

“You cannot mop the floor when the tap is still running on it,” said Dr. David Kihumuro Apuuli, director-general of the Uganda AIDS Commission.

Believe me, I understand the benefits of adjusting policy and priorities, especially when each AIDS patient treated with anti-retrovirals costs US $11,000. There are a lot of simpler, cheaper and more effective healthcare efforts that can be funded with some of that money. 

And I don't want to harsh on the people who are pushing for more informed decision making, and particular for decision making informed by randomized field trials. However, I do think that _at this point_ groundbreakers such as Esther Duflo could present more balances and realistic pictures of the cost and benefits of development decisions driven by data: 



OLPC Rwanda is falling short of goals, but who's looking?

Via the amazingly energetic Wayan Vota at OLPC News we learn that Mineduc (the Ministry of Education) of Rwanda) is able to provide only 8,000 of its target delivery of 250,000 OLPC laptops (Childrens XO machines) per year. The reason? 

"It looks like the programme is not having enough financing that can lead to its realisation like the EDPRS had projected," [Mineduc OLPC coordinator] Niyonkuru said.

(EDPRS is the Economic Development Poverty Reduction Strategy.) 

In 2006, Jon Camfield (probably equal in energy to Wayan, altho I don't know for sure) pegged Total Cost of Ownership of an XO laptop in a school environment as US ~$1,000 over five years. (I think, but am not sure, that this does not include replacement of the machine at the end of its five-year service life.) However Mr Camfield's initial estimate is very heavy on 5-year Internet connectivity ($541) with much lower costs for amortized training ($128). He also includes a one-time set-up fee of $108 per laptop, which seems completely reasonable.

These projections might be generic (cost of Internet connectivity in East Africa will presumably fall over the next 5 years), but they are at least responsibly made. The question, then, is:

Why are the smart, committed, and experienced Rwandese failing to accurately budget for and finance this high-profile laptop deployment? 

There are of course a thousand suspects, although failure as we know obscures patrimony.

One strong possibility is "ministry overreach." The OLPC initiative is split between the President's office, the newly created Ministry of Science & Technology (MOST) and the Ministry of Education.

The government of Rwanda has established itself precisely as a visionary among African governments in relation to the uses of technology for development. However in several instances--ranging from the Terracom fiasco to early projects involving laptops in primary schools and computer labs in secondary schools--implementation has not come close to matching plans.

It's very likely that the more powerful MOST has provided the MOE with a laundry list of "unfunded requirements" in relation to OLPC deployment. (You'll observe that the quote regarding financing is from a person in the Mineduc staff, not at MOST.)

But it's important to observe in all of this that the $20 million spent on laptops and however much is budgeted for deployment results from strong donor support for education in Rwanda. (DFID provides the bulk of support for education in Rwanda, but other sponsors include AfDB and WB.)  $20 million in hardware procurement over 5 years ain't chump change in a total annual education budget of about US $100 million. So why aren't donor agencies more visibly excited about this? 

Could it be because Rwanda is more or less on track to reach its Millennium Development Goal targets, including its targets in education? Does that buy MOST and Mineduc the opportunity to make a $20 million boo-boo?

Perhaps this is a job for AidWatch? (Wm Easterly never mentions OLPC. Of course he rarely discusses education in relation to development.)