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A recent study of the benefits accruing to rural students through Peru’s One Laptop per Child (OLPC) program outlines the potential for and limits to learning associated with such initiatives.
The analysis is particularly relevant for Latin America, which is home to 80% of the world’s OLPC computers, with Peru being the largest purchaser worldwide. The study was carried out by a group of researchers from the Inter-American Development Bank and the Grupo de Análisis para el Desarrollo (GRADE) – including long-time PREAL partner Santiago Cueto – 15 months after the OLPC program was implemented. The study is the first large-scale experimental evaluation of OLPC, and was carried out by randomly assigning schools to a treatment group (in which each student received a laptop) or a control group (in which the schools did not receive laptops).
Differing outcomes between the two groups led to the following key findings: 1) students that received laptops were far more likely to report computer use both at school and at home than those who did not; 2) recipient students demonstrated competence in completing computer-based tasks; 3) recipient students demonstrated significantly higher cognitive skills than those that did not receive laptops; and 4) recipient students showed no measurable gains in math, language or enrollment.
Click here for an IDB blog post on the study written by co-author Julián P. Cristia.