Education Minister, Anthony Garcia announced yesterday during a media conference at the Ministry of Education that the government will provide laptops to 153 secondary schools across the country from September 2018. This includes 13,600 Lenovo laptops at a total cost of $50 million, with each school receiving approximately 50 laptops each.
This time, the students will not be allowed to take home the laptops, but instead will remain the property of the school. This decision being made in an effort to avoid the “colossal wastage” that occurred in the previous programme, to avoid underutilization in the classroom as well as misuse by students. Garcia stated that within the previous programme, students were given laptops without the requisite training and this resulted in the laptops being used for all different types of reasons.
Under the previous administration, between 2010 and 2015 approximately 95,000 laptops amounting to more than $253 million were purchased for students for school and home use.
The laptop contract has been awarded to Memory Bank Computers Limited. Garcia mentioned that the laptops are under a three-year warranty, which is an improvement from the previous programme’s six month warranty which proved insufficient to cover repairs.
Ministry of Education ICT expert, Gerald Phillip indicated that teachers will receive training on how to incorporate the high-quality laptops into their classes and lessons. Some have already received training in this area. He further stated that the teachers will have a timetable where use of the devices will be set out on specific days and times. The laptops will be made available at such time and returned to a storage area once the class has ended.
Chief Education Officer, Harrilal Seecharan concurred that the ministry will put measures in place for proper utilization and storage in schools and the laptops will come with storage cards which contain a locked in mechanism for safety and protection. He added that the laptops can be used “anywhere in the school” under the guidance of the school management and Garcia indicated that rural schools who do not have internet access will be provided with an aptus device that will allow connections to digital learning platforms without internet access.