Ministry distributes 17,400 laptops
By Lara Pickford-Gordon Thursday, September 27 2012
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LAPTOPS FOR STUDENTS: Education Minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh, centre at back, stand with students of St Joseph's Convent, PoS: From left are Aleah Berme...
Addressing students at St Mary’s College, Port-of-Spain, where he distributed laptops to a few students representative of the Form One intake, Gopeesingh said $180 million ($80 million in the first year, $50 in second and third years) had been spent over the three years, since the government introduced the laptop distribution programme. Close to 55,000 laptops were distributed 2010-2011. He said the programme as well as scholarships showed the government’s ongoing commitment to the nation’s children.
Gopeesingh said, “It proves that we will at any cost ensure that you, our students, the future of our nation, are equipped with the best resources to attain the best education available to anyone nationally, and internationally.”
The features of the new HP Pro Book 4440 are: 2GB memory, integrated HP graphics, stereo speakers, web cam, battery life of up to six hours, anti-virus software, tracking and recovery software, data and device security. The laptops are adored with TT’s national colours – red, white and black. Gopeesingh said 16 Microsoft programmes were provided to the ministry at minimal cost. The details of the computers would be provided to teachers to share with the students. He said the Ministry’s policy in distributing laptops was to eradicate poverty, achieve equality and ensure students were well equipped for the global world of technology.
Gopeesingh recalled two weeks ago he attended a UNESCO conference in Uruguay and had a talk with that country’s Education Minister. Uruguay has a population of 3.5 million and a similar programme to TT. Gopeesingh said close to one million laptops were given to Uruguay’s primary and secondary students, and the country had enjoyed success.
He urged students to take care of their laptops, and use them for educational development since they cost the taxpayer $180 million over three years. Gopeesingh said the ministry was considering “tablets” for primary school students, which he hoped would be cheaper. He said tenders would go out via the Central Tenders Board to have WI-FI available at all secondary schools. This news was cheered by the students at St Mary’s.
IGovTT was responsible for putting out the tenders for the provision of the laptops and Digi-Data won the contract. Asked the review of the laptop distribution programme to ensure value for money, Gopeesingh said “the assessment is going on at the moment,to see if the use of it is continuing. The jury is out worldwide as to the efficacy of it,and whether it contributes to improved academic performance.” The ministry’s research has shown that students were benefiting and improved performance seen in Information Technology.
A few of the 178 St Mary’s Form One students received laptops from the Education Minister during the ceremony. John Ahloy, 12 years, said, “now we could do projects easier. If you have multiple family members you don’t have to wait for them to get off the computer to use it. You can do research on it.”
Matthew Chin Ching, also said he could complete his projects faster, since he now did not have to share a computer with other family members which made it “kind of difficult to finish everything on time.”