The tablet was developed as part of the National Mission on Education as a low cost alternative to high-end tablets which were available at $200. Even the latest tablet made by an Indian company called Pepper was priced $99.
“The tablet would let children go beyond the boundary of classroom and teachers to acquire knowledge through IT,” said the minister at a function in New Delhi last month, and promised to make it available to every child in school. “The tablet shall help enhance the quality of learning of children…This is not just a dream, it is a reality.”
Manufactured by DataWind, a UK-based company, the tablet, named Sakshat, will sport a 7-inch touchscreen display, 256MB of RAM, two USB drives, a 2GB SD memory card and a 32 GB expandable memory slot. It will run on Google’s Android platform. Other features include PDF reader, video conferencing facilities and multi content viewer.
The tablet was initially designed and developed by the Indian Institute of Science and the Indian Institute of Technology, Rajasthan. The program will connect over 25,000 colleges in the country.
However, the tablet will counter the global initiative called “One Laptop Per Child” (OLPC) which was started to create a $100 laptop for underprivileged children around the world.
The OLPC, manufactured by Quanta, is priced ten times more than Sakshat tablet and it is supplied to schools which place bulk orders. “We can produce an OLPC for less than $100 if we just remove the swivel and a few features. But we don’t do that because a child needs a complete environment to learn, it is a school in a box. The $35 device meets the expectation of somebody who wants to manufacture the device but not the needs of the users,” says Satish Jha, president and CEO of OLPC India Foundation.
However, it remains to be seen how good the $35 tablet will be.