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Ministry explains gap in roll-out of netbook computers

Ministry explains gap in roll-out of netbook computers

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The Ministry of Education is hoping to commence the second phase of distribution of netbook laptops to secondary school students as well as first year students of the Community College, in the new academic year.{{more}}

Nichole Bonadie-Baker, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, made the announcement on Monday, June 20, during a press conference held at the Education Project Management Unit (EPMU).

She used the opportunity to reiterate why the netbooks under the ‘One Laptop Per Student’ initiative, sponsored by the Government of Portugal and facilitated by Venezuela, had been distributed to primary school students throughout the state and not to secondary school students and those of the Community College.

According to Bonadie-Baker, at the secondary school level there is a requirement for students who pursue Information Technology at CSEC to do certain programmes under Microsoft Office, which are run on a windows operating system. She made it clear that the netbooks, in their present state, are not equipped with this programme. They are equipped with MeeGo operating system and the Open Source software, which has allowed the Ministry to accomodate the students at the primary school level in the initial phase of the project.

“The Ministry of Education took that decision to roll out the first phase to primary school students, basically because at the level of the primary school the Open Source software is quite practical, is ready to [be] used and as the technical experts say…the Open source software is not susceptible to getting as many viruses as the Windows operating system with [Microsoft] Office.

“So we felt because the primary school students had not been hitherto exposed to using the technology, using the different programmes, it would be best to implement that phase with them, because we would expect not to have with them the problems and difficulties encountered in using the software,” Bonadie-Baker explained.

She said the Ministry of Education will have to broker arrangements that will facilitate it having the Windows operating system and Open Source installed on the netbooks, prior to distribution in the second phase.

“That’s why there is a gap currently between the primary roll out and the secondary roll out,” Bonadie-Baker explained.

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