9 minute read

No, it's not some early George Lucas film, it's the IADB project title for the "Pilot of the One Laptop per Child Model" in Haiti that Wayan gave a great overview of at OLPCNews.com:
In a direct contraction to Nicholas Negroponte guidance at the November, 2005 IADB meeting, where he told Ministers of Education that "To do a pilot project is ridiculous!," the IADB is not only piloting OLPC, they're also going to have objective testing on the efficacy of a one to one education model

It's probably not an accident that the World Bank's InfoDev just published a Handbook on Monitoring and Evaluation of ICT in Education Projects...

I'm interested in the hard costs of the project, which weighs in at a total of $5,100,000USD. You can trace the evolution of the project back to the original November 2007 project summary and watch the numbers dance around as they move towards the final plan of operations, signed in March 2008. Between November and March they realize the need for school servers (at over $1,000USD each), energy and security solutions, as well as increase their setup, implementation, contingency, and measurement costs, (contingency spending alone goes from just under $16k to almost $260k).

Since the 5.1 million total doesn't shift, these costs are taken out of other parts of their implementation plans. IADB's laptop purchase goes from 7,000 to 3,700 (OLPC is providing another 10,000 XOs presumably from G1G1), training and content gets cut down by $200,000, and maintenance gets $30k shaved off.

The end result is focusing on 13,200 students plus 500 teachers (the November plan was for 19,000 students, but didn't have laptops for all of them or any teachers embedded in the budget) in forty communities. The student:teacher ratio would be a respectable, if not quite believable 26.4:1 . I'm creating a spreadsheet to hold all of this information with some formulas to sort it out that you can look at yourself.

What interests me is to see how my cost estimates from November 2006 stack up. I calculated for a 5 year total implementation process, and was using some slightly different numbers (the laptop cost $148 then, for example), which in some ways overlaps with the IADB budget. I tried to honestly extract a "first year" budget from my old numbers and re-arrange the IADB budget to group it into the same categories. the November costs are from the original November 2007 project summary, with the per-laptop costs just dividing by the ran numbers of laptops in the plan (not by the projected numbers of students and teacher recipients, which was a larger number). The March numbers are from the final plan of operations, signed in March 2008, with the per-laptop costs being the total divided by the number of laptops (they fixed the number glitch), and dividing the server costs among the laptops. The 5year projection is not just multiplying that by five, as most of the costs are designed to be one-time implementation costs, but tweaking where necessary to cover maintenance and so forth. The Jon5yr cost is my original guestimate, and the Jon1yr extracts the setup costs and divides the rest of the recurring costs by 5:

Cost Calulations

Nov per-laptop
Mar per-laptop

Training and content






...non-laptop hardware


You can view the entire spreadsheet to see what went where in detail at this Google Spreadsheet of the OLPC/IADB costs with the formulae visible to see how I constructed my numbers (and the linked PDF files have the original arrangement of the costs if you're so interested).

Now, IADB doesn't break down connectivity very well, so it's unclear what part of that is installation and what part (if any?) is service provision, and it's this figure where my estimates appear way off. IADB calculates $3,000 USD/school for "connectivity" . According to a February Community News email:
Michail had a conference call with SES-Americom. They agreed to provide the (C-Band) space segment and internet termination (via their Maryland teleport) for our upcoming deployment in Haiti.

So I'm going to guess that that's $3k for a VSAT installation with donated bandwidth; with no maintenance budget or money for a paid subscription if the bandwidth donation ever dries up -- does the community have any insight on this?

As for the other "line items", I was $10 over per laptop on total implementation costs, and $2 over on maintenance costs, not bad. If I presume that an Internet connection is free of cost, my original number 972 less five years of Internet access (coming in at $541 using the UN dial-up costs discussed here), I end up $11.94 cents higher than a 5-year projection of the IADB's numbers, (not accounting for the change in the laptop price from $148 to $188).

So if anyone can provide some on-the-ground information about bandwidth costs in Haiti (all the ISP websites I found were broken in one way or another); we can see what the ongoing costs of this project will be.

Archived comments

  • I am really impressed by the way you pulled information for so many different sources to get the real picture about this pilot project. Thank you for keeping us informed. – Alanna Shaikh Tue, 03/03/2009 - 19:38

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