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4,200 more computers arrive from Venezuela

4,200 more computers arrive from Venezuela

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An additional 4,200 laptops arrived in the state yesterday, from Venezuela, under the Government’s proposed ‘one laptop per child’ programme.{{more}}

The new arrivals were expected to add to the 2,000 computers which arrived in December 2010.

Prime Minister and Political Leader of the ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP) announced the arrival of the additional computers at a political meeting, at Richland Park, on Sunday, February 27.

At the meeting Gonsalves said that 15,000 computers were expected on Monday, February 28, but only 4,200 arrived.

Gonsalves noted that the update on the computers comes at a time when some members of the Opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) were saying that the initiative was a “political gimmick.”

Gonsalves said such remarks are being made, despite the fact that there had been a number of activities which suggested otherwise, some of which included visits by delegations from Portugal and Venezuela.

Distribution of the first set of laptops is expected to begin some time in the middle of March, Gonsalves disclosed.

He further outlined how the laptops will be distributed. Gonsalves said students from Grades 2 to 5, First formers and first year students at the Division of Arts, Sciences and General Studies, as well as the Technical and Vocational Division at the Community College will be the ones to receive the laptops .

All teachers throughout the primary and secondary school system will also be receiving laptops, the Prime Minister added.

Gonsalves further explained that a decision had been taken not to distribute laptops to Grade 6 students, as they were preparing for the Common Entrance examinations, just a few months away.

He further stated that originally the idea was to furnish fourth and fifth form students with the laptops. However, those students who had already started preparing for the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) examinations had used the programme Microsoft Office when they learnt IT.

“We had to equip the computers with Microsoft Office and had to work out the licensing arrangement to use the software,” he said, adding that this situation is not sorted out as yet.

He said that he hopes that the second batch to be distributed here will be equipped with the programme.

Gonsalves further outlined how the programme is to be implemented, saying that the Government did not want to run into problems which neighbouring countries Barbados and Trinidad encountered, as they too had attempted to implement similar programmes.

He again spoke of the setting up of a committee comprising various ministries and of the publication of manuals directed to the teachers, parents and students who will be receiving the laptops.

Gonsalves also produced a document which he referred to as a “loan agreement form.”

This document, according to the Prime Minister, outlined the “conditions and regulations” of the laptop’s use.

Although the laptops will be in the hands of the students, they belong to the Government, Gonsalves said. (DD)