Thai premier wants free laptops for schoolchildren

Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra bared an ambitious project to provide low-cost laptop computers to all of Thailand's millions of elementary school students starting this October, an Associated Press report said.

The report said the "One Laptop Per Child" project aimed to deliver up to 30 computers to Thailand in October and 500 more in November, Thaksin said in a nationwide radio broadcast.

The leader said the first batch of laptops, costing around $100 each, would be distributed to children in rural areas where access to technology was limited. Those children would test the computers before the government proceeds with the project nationwide. The laptops were not yet in production.

The Thai government adopted the project a year ago after Thaksin met the "One Laptop Per Child" project's founder, Nicholas Negroponte, the state-run Thai News Agency reported.

Some critics said the project misallocated resources and that governments in developing countries would do better to invest in providing for more basic needs, according to the report.

The machines were being designed to be cheap and sturdy, and have minimum running costs. They would use the free Linux operating system, flash memory instead of a hard drive, and, according to Thaksin, would be able to run on an outboard electricity generator that was pumped by hand, the report said.