Raspberry Pi – Total Cost of Ownership
The Raspberry Pi is a computer on a single printed circuit board. It centres around a mobile phone micro-processor and has various input/output sockets that allow you to attach the essential peripherals that you need but which are not included in its $25 purchase price.
As their own FAQ diagram makes clear the Raspberry Pi needs a computer monitor or TV screen and USB power charger (the kind that comes with many smart phones). You need a USB keyboard and mouse and an SD memory card. Headphones are required for sound and an HDMI cable is necessary to link video output to your screen. None of these peripherals comes included with the $25 Raspberry Pi. The peripherals are readily available where I live in central London for around $150.
However in rural Zambia (where I will be working for the next two months) they are only available from the main cities and are more expensive. A round trip to Lusaka will cost around $200 and the same peripherals will cost another $225.
And whatever the cost of building a working computer around a Raspberry Pi it serves no purpose whatsoever without trained staff and technical support in place.
Today most schools, in England or Zambia, do not have the skills or training to make effective use of the Raspberry. Teacher’s rates of pay and conditions of service do not make working additional hours in after-school clubs an attractive proposition.
So without this provision of resources essential to effective use, what will happen?
Only the most privileged schools will be able to make available the extra resources necessary to make effective use of the Raspberry Pi.
The problem here is that giving additional advantages to already privileged children only widens the existing digital divide.