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Apple sending sun-juiced iPads to rural Zimbabwe

To replace unused or stolen computers

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Updated If you want a solar-powered iPad 2 with a pico projector, get a job as a school teacher in Zimbabwe, where Apple has entered into a joint venture with the Mugabe government to supply such setups to rural schools.

"Great meeting with Apple today in Paris - unveiled a fascinating new 'School Box' which will take iPads to the most remote rural schools," wrote Zimbabwe's education, sport, arts, and culture minister David Coltart on his Facebook page. "Using solar power and micro projectors we will be able to bring computerised teaching aids to the poorest schools."

From Coltart's point of view, this could be the start of something big. "If we can get it to work in Zimbabwe," he writes, "I am sure it will spread to poor schools throughout Africa – and beyond."

Newsday Zimbabwe notes that president Mugabe had distributed computers to rural schools as part of his "rural computerisation programme", but that the effort has been a bust, with those computers either being stolen or unusable due to a lack of electricity.

The "School Box" bundles will solve the latter problem, but the iPads will be a tempting target for the light-fingered rustic. As Information Week pointed out on Thursday, the first iPad has been stolen from the US Department of Veterans Affairs shortly after the fondleslabs' introduction to that agency.

Times are tough these days in the belt-tightening US government, but they're infinitely tougher in rural Zimbabwe. So if someone tries to sell you a solar-power iPad 2, odds are that it was acquired by that worthy at a five-fingered discount. ®

Update

Computerworld now reports that although "School in a Box" does, indeed, include an iPad 2, it's not an Apple project.

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