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Computers For Public Schools


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 It's been a while since several Latin countries decided to start programs to deliver computers and to connect all public schools to the Internet providing access to technological resources to children through several initiatives.

These programs has been under attack since its inception, most of people that critics them, argue that all the money used in those strategies could be used to solve other problems that requires attention as for example public health and national security.

So, are those programs really necessary?, do they provide real benefits to the communities?, are those computers safe enough to be used by children?.
All these questions have different answers depending on what side of the river you are: a critic person or a supportive one.

From my personal perspective, these programs constitute the very first steps to close the so called “technological breach” between developed and developing countries and even between the “rich” and the “poor” in developing countries, so they are necessary and yes they will provide real benefits to local communities specially those ones located in far regions of every country.

Why these programs helps to close the “technological breach”?, basically because to deploy computers all around a country, a series of investments on communication and electrical networks, training and more are required, so every community receives not only a computer but a full range of technologies that allow them to be in touch with the rest of the world.
For example people of native communities are located in areas where sometimes there is no access to a basic phone service, so if a person from those communities needs some kind of medical attention it will require long trips to get the nearest doctor with all the problems that those trips creates for the patient or its relative.

With a governmental program, those communities will have computers in their schools, and as an addendum these computers will be connected to the Internet, by this connection these communities will have access to communication services that allow them to easily communicate and get help for their needs, among the services we can list virtual doctors, access to public on line libraries and so on.

With computers connected to the Internet, local communities can make use of the vast amount of information available, with this, users will gain enough knowledge allowing them to make comparisons of their situation with other similar towns around the world, giving them arguments to request more public investment if required in order to improve their life quality.

Kids from those schools with computers will have the advantage of being in close contact with technologies that looked really far from their possibilities until now, giving them the chance of interact with other kids around the world, exchange experiences and tales, make friends and as a consequence of these interaction those kids will learn ways to create their own programs and applications that may help their communities to solve many problems that in other scenarios will require more time and maybe it will never be solved by traditional means.

However this connectivity will expose children to potentially harmful situations related to ciber delinquency, as for example sexual harassment.
Protective measures must be taken in order to control these situations like for example close surveillance of teachers and parents, restrict the access to know dangerous sites, create an Internet rating system for websites and so on.

However none of these measures will be perfect, and that is a risk that has to be assumed when kids gets computers with Internet connections. No communication network has proven to be risk safe, each technology creates a lot of new issues and the way is administered by the user provides the key of success of its implementation.

Public initiatives to deliver computer to schools are good initiatives, however these initiatives will not be successful if they are not tied to well defined strategies in areas like training, communications, security, and a strong commitment of local authorities, also a rational cost ratio of these programs will allow the government to reach more places and kids, high costs will create a strong critic environment from general public that claims that the money should be invested in other required areas.




 


 

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