After a few minutes on the Aakash, a five-year-old American kid proudly announced he had achieved Level 4 in an addition game. He'd started the day at Level 1. These poorer kids in North Carolina were already picking up skills they'd be learning in the next school year, which was unprecedented - they would usually start off the year at a disadvantage.
The world's cheapest Made-in-India tablet, nicknamed Aakash (sky), had promised to transform Indian education. Instead, the government project got mired in delays and controversies in India. Meanwhile, the $50 Aakash tablet was creating a buzz in a dozen countries, and in the United Nations, where it was showcased last November.
Now, the Aakash has just completed a pilot in the US state of North Carolina, with 100 units of the Android tablets deployed in summer camps for poorer schoolchildren (mostly under age 10) to help them prepare for next year's studies. And there are other projects under way, with 2,000 tablets - DataWind's Aakash-equivalent UbiSlate models - already deployed.
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