Government FAQ

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Below are questions commonly asked by governmental officials about the OLPC and Sugar plans, with short answers here and links to longer discussions elsewhere. Please add questions and answers that you have encountered.
Remember, It's An Education Program, not a laptop program. XOs are part of the story, and Sugar on any other supported Linux is another.

Educational Benefits and Other Effects

What's the evidence for XOs and Sugar in education?

Early results have shown gains in academic achievement, personal and social growth, and educational methods. Several trials have shown extremely promising results for immigrants struggling with a new language, and for students with disabilities of several kinds. We have also seen that these results do not occur automatically. Improper deployment can result in poor outcomes, as with any technology. However, several deployments, including Ethiopia and Nepal have returned improvements that astonished participants and researchers.
Further gains are expected when a full range of Free digital learning materials becomes readily available. At this point, computers will cost less than printed textbooks in most countries, particularly when the next generation of lower-cost computers appears.
If you would like to see more specific measures, please ask us. We are in contact with many educational research organizations.

Do I have to buy XOs in order to use Sugar?

Not at all. This is an education project, not a laptop project. Sugar runs on a wide variety of other computers, and on a number of versions of Linux.
The choice of computers depends on your requirements. XOs have advantages where extreme low power is required, or ruggedness, or minimum cost. Other computers may be more appropriate in other situations, or for older students. If you have computers for all of your children now, you can put Linux and Sugar on them in several ways.
  • Install Sugar on your current Linux, if you have one
  • Dual boot with your current software, if you have Windows
  • Run Sugar in a Virtual Machine
  • Boot from LiveCD
  • Boot from Sugar on a Stick

OLPC and Partners

What is One Laptop Per Child?

Mission Statement: To create educational opportunities for the world's poorest children by providing each child with a rugged, low-cost, low-power, connected laptop with content and software designed for collaborative, joyful, self-empowered learning. When children have access to this type of tool they get engaged in their own education. They learn, share, create, and collaborate. They become connected to each other, to the world and to a brighter future.

What is Sugar Labs?

Sugar Labs is the non-profit/NGO responsible for the development of the Sugar educational software platform.
Sugar is the core component of a worldwide effort to provide every child with equal opportunity for a quality education. Available in 25 languages, Sugar’s Activities are used every school day by almost one-million children in more than forty countries. Originally developed for the One Laptop per Child XO-1 netbook, Sugar runs on most computers. Sugar is free and open-source software.

How are OLPC and Sugar Labs related?

Sugar Labs is a spin-off of OLPC. They coordinate their work on XO hardware and Sugar software.

Which countries have one-to-one computer deployments?

What user groups work with XO and Sugar?

This is a partial list.
Are they official parts of OLPC?
No, they are groups of volunteers, sometimes associated with a school, university, or NGO.


What is the XO?

See XO: The Children's Machine.

Does the XO run Microsoft Windows?

Microsoft prepared a special version of Windows XP for the XO-1 (see OLPC:Windows), but has not marketed it.

Why not use Windows?

Windows imposes extra costs at every turn for upgrades and applications, and does not run the Sugar education software.
You may hear the argument that schoolchildren should use the tools that are the de facto standard in business and government offices. There are several objections to this theory, particularly as it applies to Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office.
  • Linux, Sugar, and other Free Software comes with source code, so that more advanced students can learn from it and improve it. In particular, it can be adapted to any local language requirements without asking permission from a vendor.
  • It will be 6-12 years before children now in elementary school (grades 1-6) graduate from a secondary school, and either enter the workforce or go on to higher education. If you look at the software of 6-12 years ago, and compare it with what is in use today, you will see that this idea would not have worked well in the past, and is unlikely to work better in the future.
  • The only constant in the world today is change. Children need to learn to adapt, not learn to use only one kind of software.
  • We do not know what will be the de facto standard in business and government 6-12 years from now. Many countries are considering converting all of their operations to Free Software.
  • That isn't how we teach children anything else.

What does the XO cost?

Currently, the cost is $189 in quantity, starting at 10,000 units.

What else will we need to pay for?

OLPC provides
  • XOs
  • School servers
  • Sugar software
  • Creative-Commons licensed learning content
  • Some localization
OLPC does not provide
  • Electricity
  • Internet
  • Teacher training
  • Curriculum planning
Open Learning Exchange, Earth Treasury, and other organizations can assist with these requirements.

Other Platform Options

What should I consider when evaluating computers for education?

The first question is, What do our students need? The answer to that question determines what weight to give the rest of the questions.
Children, especially poor children in areas lacking infrastructure, need computers that are
  • rugged
  • safe
  • secure
  • inexpensive
  • environmentally friendly
  • able to run on limited power
  • able to communicate in the absence of the Internet
  • fast enough
  • capacious enough
  • able to run the best education software
  • usable in sunlight
These are not the questions asked by prosperous buyers, who usually want the biggest and fastest computers they can afford. There are, of course, many computers with faster processors, more memory, and more storage than the XO, but no others designed specifically to meet the stringent requirements of children. On the other hand, older students probably should not have to use the very small XO keyboard.