The successful laptop experiment
‘When I studied journalism in my city, I didn’t have actually computers, but I used an old typewriter.
You are then fortunate we got a donation of computers from the Netherlands and we thanks the benefactors that made it possible. They believed that computers are very important tools in the formation of all of you.
We need more computers, but I feel like a really beggar to request more computers from abroad and I hope our benefactors will not forget us and will continue sending us educational material.
Now well, all of you come from rural areas and poor villages and it is the reason why you are here. By sure, many of your families cannot afford to pay superior studies to you.
But I invite you to try and get your personal laptop computers.
I know it is hard. But let us think a little in many of our social behaviors. Every moment we see people expending in parties. Many complain they are poor, but at any moment they invite you to their wedding and, in Cambodia, you need to have some money to marry and it can be about 3 thousand dollars. If we think for a while, 3 thousand dollars is 42 times the Cambodian minimum wage!
When you go to many poor places, you can see that many families have motorbikes. It is of course very useful for work, however, most of our students (poor) come to study by motorbikes. We cannot say that owning a motorbike in Cambodia is to be rich, but it can cost at least 1 thousand dollars (14 times the minimum wage!)
Then we have the fever for cell phones. In 2010, according to the Royal Ministry of Post and Telecommunications, there were 7,891,879 cell phones! If our national population is 13,8 million Cambodians, it means that more than 50% of us have a cell phone. The other 50% probably have not a cell phone because they are children! The same with motorbikes, cell phones become a very important tool of communication and work. It is easier and cheaper to put a cell phone antenna, than telephone cables. However, you can see too many cell phone users getting the best labels and expensive brands and many of them belonging to the poor group. Of course, it is not just to buy the phone, but you need to feed it with $$$ credit. As I see many of our poor students talking by phone per hours – they say they profit the free credits provided by the phone companies – we can calculate an expense of at least 5 US dollars per day. If that is real, the expense becomes 25 US dollars per week and 100 US dollars per month! As it is too much, let us reduce a little: 2 US dollars per day (buying credits to talk with friends, bf or gf…), gives 14 US dollars per week and 56 US dollars per month… As you say you are very poor, probably you expend 56 US dollars of your father’s 75USD minimum wage in calls to your peers & bf/gf!
Parties! All of us love parties. Globally, we can say something that is very human: there is always money to buy beer or wine!
Then, evidently, there is some money around in Cambodia. The issue then is about priorities.
Why we do not expend that money in buying things we really need?
Let’s see: it is useful to have a motorbike, but it needs gasoline too. Then you can use moto-taxis. If I am a student, I don’t need a cell phone. I need to buy books and other academic material. In the future, if I get a good job because I am a good technician or a professional, surely I can afford to buy a cell phone for work.
Let us buy a laptop computer. It keeps more electricity than the desktops and I can bring it everywhere. The laptop can be an excellent tool to study and to develop my knowledge.’
This small speech said a couple of years ago has produced very good results. Many students followed the advance, they did practice more austerity and got their own laptops. Some of them sold their motorbikes and they continued coming the same to the school. They didn’t die because they had to use moto-taxis or bicycles or even walking. Many of them sold their cellphones – the change here came also because laptops have the possibility of Skype and chats that are free! so they continue talking with peers and bf/gf… making that also they must have their own laptops…! Others, especially those coming from orphanage, made their Christmas wishes to their traditional benefactors !
I can conclude that young people are always open to listen proposals and those proposals must keep vision for a best society.
Let us change social behaviors and we must start with children and youth.