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Indian Gov't to Distribute Low Cost Android Tablets to Millions of Schoolchildren

BY Lisa Goldman | Thursday, October 4 2012

Screenshot from Aakash website.

The Indian government is piloting a program to provide low cost Android tablets to Indian schoolchildren, reports TechCrunch. Produced by the U.K.-based company Datawind with funding from the Indian government, the tablets will be available to Indian students for only $21 each, with the cost covered by the schools. This would make the Aakash, as the new device is called, the cheapest tablet ever produced.

The 7-inch tablet — small so that little hands can hold it easily — is equipped for WiFi, has 32 gigabytes of storage and a three-hour battery life. The prototype was developed by a team at the India Institute of Technology — India's MIT — and the government teamed up with Datawind for development and mass production.

TechCrunch tested videotaped its test of the Aakash and loaded the clip onto YouTube:

TechCrunch also summarizes the research that shows how tablets can change the lives of schoolchildren — particularly those who live in rural areas with poor infrastructure.

The potential education implications of a universally accessible, Internet-capable tablet are significant: the best research on computer-based education shows that students with little human instruction can perform on par with their privately tutored peers.

When Newcastle professor Sugata Mitra scattered unsupervised standalone Internet stations throughout the slums of India, in mere months, neighborhood children significantly increased their science, reading, and math knowledge, leading one reviewer of his to conclude that the impressive results were simply “too good to be true.”

The government surely faces man obstacles in distributing the Aakash to students all over India. The country is vast and corruption is a problem. But there is something uplifting and inspiring about this project.

Personal Democracy Media is thankful to the Omidyar Network for its generous support of techPresident's WeGov section.

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