Analysis

The following is in part a prediction based on existing global Best Practices, and in part set of goals. Much of this will happen regardless of us. We can make those parts happen sooner, and more effectively. The other parts have to do with the new ideas that we are discovering and shaping together, particularly integrated development that includes the economy, the social structure of society, and spiritual growth. The only project that I know of that currently does this is the Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement in Sri Lanka, which I commend to your study and, if possible, participation.
For several years I have been seeing a gradual coming together of many strands in development toward the possibility of an integrated strategy that can be replicated worldwide. After the initial stage, it should all become self-sustaining in the manner of the Grameen Bank, Grameen Phone, and the like, and thus independent of the usual sources of non-profit funding. Here are the leading strands.
  • ICT4D, including newly powerful mobile phones, computers, and Internet at prices that make sense in even the poorest and most remote villages, given the promise of economic growth to enable paying back costs.


    • One Laptop Per Child, for many reasons, including a rethinking of curricula, textbook content, and publishing models. Scarcity of information is no longer the limiting factor in education. Electronic publications still take effort and time to write, but the reproduction cost on the Internet is nearly nil. Governments will soon realize that they don't have to buy textbooks. They can contract for writing textbooks and other materials with the proviso that the government, or we should say the public, owns the copyright. We can take advantage of Free Software and Open Access publishing throughout this process, and of a century of discoveries in how children really learn. Currently XOs are $198 each, with $75 versions promised for 2010. GiveOneGetOne is to start up again in November.


    • WiMax and other broadband technologies that can provide Internet to whole countries (90-95% coverage) for $10 per person installed.


    • Fiber optic cables for every country in Africa. There is one installed on the West Coast, two being laid on the East Coast, and four more promised. Rwanda and the other dozen landlocked countries in Africa are making deals with their neighbors for overland links. Some regions in Central Asia may take a little longer.


    • New satellite launches that promise both to break the current cartel pricing in Africa, and to link Africa directly to South America, the Middle East, and Asia, not just by multihop through Europe.


    • African banks that are now in a position to start creating a continent-wide network and to roll out electronic banking.


    • Global GIS initiatives dealing with mapping critical poverty issues: environment, water, agriculture, climate, health, and much more.


  • The many organizations working on renewable electricity for villages, among them [[User:Mokurai/Earth Treasury|Earth Treasury]], Engineers Without Borders, and the Jhai Foundation.


  • Many organizations rolling out vastly improved health services to whole countries and in a few cases to the entire world. This includes the Rotary International eradication of polio; anti-malarial bednets wherever needed; free medication for River Blindness; low-cost AIDS medication (largely due to the Clinton Foundation); practical methods for treating multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB); microinsurance; Free Software for health, such as OpenMRS; and health education through One Laptop Per Child.


  • More than 100,000 of the million and more NGOs of the world now connected with each other through Wiser Earth.


  • Barack Obama's plan to double US Foreign Aid, and redirect it to much more efficient methods (toward helping the poor, not just subsidizing US agriculture, manufacturing, and consulting). This includes a $2 billion annual Global Education Fund.


  • The microfinance movement's casting about for the next big challenge. I predict village electricity and Internet along with school computers, and I am working on alliances toward that end.
Sugar Labs has taken over software development for the OLPC XO. Walter Bender of Sugar Labs is putting together a research consortium to tackle problems in education, and I am assisting in recruiting, and in problem definition. My program is not of the usual kind, where we know what subjects we mean to tackle.
My version of the mission is: Whatever turns out to be needed. My self-appointed task is to find the holes in current programs, and fill them, first with my own efforts and second by recruiting others to do the work, research further solutions, and plan where we might go next. Among the critical tasks are village electricity and Internet, redesigning curricula and textbooks, and bringing all of this together into target communities with microfinance, with a flexible, integrated business plan for whole societies to advance societal infrastructure (education, health, clean water, and other essentials), and the private sector (sole proprietorships, sustainable international companies, producer and consumer co-operatives), and shared values.
It is no longer practical to impose the illusion of shared values on a society. They must grow out of the situation. The report on OLPC's early effects in Ethiopia gives a glimpse into where we are going. Within a few months, in a highly traditional society that has valued teaching politeness and obedience over subject matter in schools, and where asking questions of a teacher was considered insulting, the XO and its software have opened up a new, collaborative relationship between teachers and students. This is in no small part attributable to the collaborative nature of the XO's Sugar and other software. Access to the information riches of the Internet is another important factor. See Academic Papers on the OLPC Wiki for this and other recent reports.
There is more, but that will do to begin with.