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Friday, May 27, 2011

Sustainability and Money

Two important words, of course.

I'm reading The White Man's Burden by William Easterly. In it, he talks about how sustainability can only really be built with personal investment from the people involved. How just shoving money and objects into people's faces isn't going to build sustainable growth.

So then I started thinking about our class in São Tomé and how it would really benefit from a local coordinator who can be trained to understand these laptops, communicate with me regularly and help the teachers out.

At first I was going to find payment for this person though the Embassy of Taiwan. But what if the students funded his pay?

What if we asked each student that wanted to participate in the program to pay the school $12 per year to participate (about 17,000 Dobras, which is less than the price of a beer)? Then, 9 months of the year, a part-time coordinator would earn $100 USD per month from the ~100 students involved. The other $300 USD could go to the school to benefit its own costs (this last detail I'm still unsure about; it might be more prudent to just charge each student $9/year instead).

That way, the kids are invested, as well as their families, without choking up a fortune. There is a local coordinator who is invested and making money, trying to get the program to grow. The teachers are getting extra support and assistance, and the school is making a little bit of money off of it all.

We could also raise money to sponsor those children who are truly not poor enough to afford the class. We could raise $120 per year to put ten students who can't pay otherwise through the program.

What do you think? Is this crazy, or could this work?


  1. 12$ is 205 000 dobra.

    Paying for education lets kids take ownership. But can they afford it?

  2. Ooops, dumb moment. What I meant was it's about 17,000 dobras per month. Is that too costly? Perhaps...

    I once heard about a woman in Haiti who makes her children pay 5 Haitian dollars per year to come to her school. It adds up to $1 per year, which is absolutely nothing, but does get them to invest their energy a bit more in their education.



Please click the button below to donate to STEP UP OLPC to support the São João school's computer program in São Tomé:

Donate $200 and you will be paying for a computer for at least FIVE very special children at São João (as estimated computer life is five years). Thanks so much!

Want your donation to be tax-deductible? Send a check to STeP UP with OLPC in the memo. Then mail it to:

Eric McClafferty
Kelley and Drye
3050 S St. NW, #400
Washington, DC 20007