Thursday, December 4, 2008

Affordable Computing for Schools in Developing Countries

Total Cost of Ownership (TCO): A Study of Models of Affordable Computing for Schools in Developing Countries
"Total cost of ownership" (TCO) is often underestimated, sometimes grossly, when calculating costs of ICT in education initiatives in developing countries. Estimates of initial costs to purchase equipment to overall costs over time vary widely; typically they lie between 10-25% of total cost. That said, there is a dearth of reliable data, and useful tools, to help guide education decisionmakers in their assessments of the true costs of educational technology initiatives.

A recent whitepaper from Vital Wave Consulting, "Affordable Computing for Schools in Developing Countries: A Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) Model for Education Officials", and accompanying case study of ICT in education initiatives in India , provide further insight and perspective on this important and often controversial issue. The white paper discusses key issues related to technology use in education and presents several major findings, including:

* Academic research and private-sector investment decisions indicate that computers in schools contribute to improved academic outcomes, boost a nation’s economic competitiveness, and attract job-creating economic investments.
* Governments need to consider the entire cost of school computing solutions, rather than merely the initial expenses. A total cost of ownership model takes into account recurrent and hidden costs such as teacher training, support and maintenance, and the cost of replacing hardware over a five-year period.
* Support and training are recurrent costs that constitute two of the three largest costs in the total cost of ownership model. They are greater than hardware costs and much higher than software fees.
* Ultra-low cost computers and Linux-based solutions are relatively equal in cost to traditional hardware and proprietary software solutions because they require higher labor and replacement costs over a five-year period.
* The total cost of ownership for different computer types and software platforms is relatively consistent.

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