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Gonsalves presents laptops to students

Gonsalves presents laptops to students


This Country’s Ambassador to the United Nations (UN) Camillo Gonsalves has described the introduction of the one laptop per child initiative as a “Quantum leap up the staircase of development.”{{more}}

Gonsalves made the statement on Friday, December 10, at the Methodist Church Hall, at the presentation to students of the over two thousand Intel Classmate laptops computers which arrived in the state over a week ago from the Government of Portugal.

Giving the background into the project, Gonsalves said, back in 2007, he made a presentation to Nicholas Negroponte, who is founder and chairman of the One Laptop per Child program which was devised to put a laptop in the hands of every student. He said conversations developed with Negroponte and other stakeholders during that time. Gonsalves mentioned that at this same time, this country’s relations with Portugal and Venezuela were building, and he learnt that Portugal had a successful laptop programme which had provided all students there with a laptop. It was there Gonsalves said, things began to take shape.

“This was not overnight. This was in the pipeline all along and we want these laptops to be fully integrated in the learning experience of all our students,” Gonsalves said.

“No longer are the walls of your classroom defining you. Your classroom is now the entire world, where you can learn from students in Portugal and they can learn from you,” Gonsalves added.

Also present to deliver remarks, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said he and Portugal’s Prime Minister Jose Socrates have developed a great relationship over the years, and Socrates was kind enough to give this country 30,000 laptops for free, for students at the Primary, Secondary and Post Secondary levels.

“No country in the Caribbean and very few developed countries can boast that,” he said.

“Certainly, the most powerful country in the world, USA, can’t boast one laptop per student at primary, secondary and post secondary level,” Gonsalves said.

The remaining 28,000 laptops should be in the country by January 2011, the Prime Minister said. Portugal had arranged with Venezuela to assemble the computers for St Vincent. Venezuela has purchased close to one million laptops from Portugal for its students.

In addition to assembling and bringing the laptops to St Vincent, Venezuela has also agreed to provide the software for the laptops free of cost and also provide training for teachers who can train other teachers. Venezuela has also agreed to provide this country with trainers to train young men and women to repair these computers.

“This is going to revolutionise teaching and learning, and this is going to be worked on by students in controlled environments because we don’t want them doing other things than school work,” Gonsalves noted.

In order to get the full impact of the programme, Prime Minister Gonsalves said he would have to negotiate to have every teacher supplied with a laptop computer also.

It is his hope that the laptops would be used as a medium of learning and teaching that will help to lift St Vincent higher and higher.

Minister of Technology, Jerrol Thompson, who was also present at the ceremony, described the donation of the laptops as a “dream come through” for St Vincent and the Grenadines. He noted that students will now be able to work more efficiently throughout their studies.(KW)