1 - "People" might not be poor, but schools are (that's pretty much global, but in these times of "belt-tightening" it's getting worse). Schools are underfunded, and there is a movement in most places to reduce the number of state employees - yes, politicians are sacrificing the future of our children to satisfy the merchant bankers in the short term, but that's a whole different (and rather political) argument. A computer that costs close to nothing, even if "less capable" than a big fat desktop or an android tablet (the latter is debatable, but hey) allows motivated teachers and school boards (who, contrary to popular opinion, generally *do* care about the future of our children) to spend "pocket money" on re-introducing something that should never have been removed from the curriculum in the first place, even if they are doing it "under the radar" and totally off the official roadmap.
2 - A fully-fledged computer is a major investment, it's hard to restore after you've buggered it up, and letting kids program on one - umm - frowned upon. A device that can be restored to "virgin" state simply by clearing / reinitialising the flashcard it runs from is much easier to deal with.
3 - Approximately 20% of the UK population don't have computers at home, and of those that do, how many have "programming" access, let alone the tools and exact same setup as in school. Giving a "standard" computer of trivial value (and thus not really "nickable") to a kid to take home and do his/her homework sidesteps this issue neatly.
4 - A teacher can start all the kids at the beginning of a year / term / week / individual class with a "standard" flashcard image tailored for the purpose.
5 - A "normal" computer will be running something by MS, and thus, programming will be to MS "standard". Goebbels knew all about indoctrinating the youth.
Shall I keep going?
Oh, and as for installing Linux on your tablet, remember that Chinese manufacturers are not terribly good at meeting their GPL requirements. My guess, based on past performance and bitter experience (Witstech A81) is that your requests for documentation or the GPL-required source code will fall on deaf ears. I hope I'm wrong, but I fear not.
Quote from bradburts on December 7, 2011, 08:34
I grew up in the 70's, we did not have reliable power then
I don't have it now. The lights in the house are flickering as we speak (thank $GAWD for UPSs).