Case 1 - Description and assignment
You are a high-level decision-maker from a middle-income developing country. Even though the great majority of the population of your country lives in urban areas, agriculture is still the main source of revenues for the national economy. Whilst the country has long achieved almost universal literacy rates, current standardized learning assessments show that it is falling behind others in the region and the world.
You have heard about some recently announced low-cost laptops and have the intuition that such a project might have a positive impact. It is 2006, you have no antecedent implementations of such projects from which to learn and you do know that little is actually known about the actual outcomes of 1 to 1 models. About 20% of your schools have PC computer labs which, as far as you know, are underused and to some extent obsolete.
Your demographic structure and recent improvements in the national economy would enable you to cover a national implementation of a 1 to 1 model without unbalancing the projected national public expenditure. There are, of course, other policy areas that need investment as well, such as public healthcare and housing for low-income families.
Finally, you have a limited time left out of your government period. You do know that for schools to embrace innovations takes longer than that. A gradual process of implementation, accompanied by training sessions and local contextualization of the project would take longer than the time you actually have.
- With the information available to you (remember it is late 2006), would you invest public money in a massive ICT project? Why or why not?
- If so, which model would you choose? 1 to 1 laptop model? Computer labs at schools? Smartphones? Other? Why?
- Would you opt for implementing one such initiative covering 100% of the schools within the time constraint that you have?
- Or would you be more gradual instead, piloting and scaling-up gradually, maybe risking discontinuity of the Project?
- If so, what institutional design would you opt for? Would you do this, for example, within the ministry of education? Would you create a new institution? What would be the advantages and disadvantages of each option, both short term and long term?
- If you were part of the implementing team, how would you manage change at the educational system and at the schools?
Please write down your individual answers
Compare them with your peer´s.
Point what factors you prioritized over others when making your decisions.
Identify and discuss the main advantages and risks of your choice and of the alternatives that were not chosen.
Eventually re-write your decision if the group discussion took you to re-consider your choices or challenge the assumptions you had made.
Case 1 provided by Ms. Ana Laura Martinez