More than 21,000 laptop computers are due to be handed out next week to students entering secondary schools for the first time, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said on Tuesday.
“We (Government) have more than 21,000 laptops to give out to the first formers in this country and that’s what we are working towards, moderninsing, developing, growing (and) improving the quality of life. I am going to be very happy to go with my Minister of Education sometime during the course of next week to hand over some of the laptops,” Persad-Bissessar told reporters at the lighting ceremony of the Morne Diablo Recreation, Scott Road, Morne Diablo, Penal.
Based on what took place in 2010, teachers may also receive laptops along with the 18,039 children who wrote the Secondary Entrance Assessment exam in May and are due to enter Form One on Monday, the first day of the 2013/2014 school year.
Persad-Bissessar pointed out that after next week’s distribution, students from Forms One to Four would all have laptops, and is already looking forward to the 2015 school year, by which time all students in Forms One to Five would have received laptops.
A laptop for each child was one of the 2010 manifesto promises of the People’s Partnership Government, which Persad-Bissessar regards as one its achievements.
“From next week, every child, Form One, Form Two, Form Three, Form Four will have a laptop and by next year, every child, Form One, Form Two, Form Three, Form Four and Form Five will have a laptop, that will be my first term in Government,” Persad-Bissessar said. “We belong in a digital age, in a modern age and therefore this is where we want to take our children,” she added.
Estimates for the programme, shows that in 2010, 20,400 laptops were distributed to 17,270 students and teachers at a cost of $83 million and were supplied by US manufacturer Hewlett-Packard (HP).
In 2011, Chinese manufacturer Lenovo won the contract to supply 17,300 laptops at a cost of $53 million. In that year 17,327 students wrote the SEA exam.
In 2012, Government again turned to HP and bought 17,492 laptops for $58 million, in a year when 17,916 students were expected to enter Form One.
There has been no data on the supplier and cost for the 2013 distribution, which is expected to be released next week.
Addressing concerns about murders, especially involving youths, Persad-Bissessar said Government was moving to implement suggestions contained of the Selwyn Ryan report on crime, one of which involved the development of sports.
“The thrust in sport is very important, confirmed by the Selwyn Ryan report, and we are trying to implement many of those suggestions made or recommended,” she said. This includes encouraging “more sporting activities amongst the youth.”
She said the recreation ground lighting programme was one initiative to encourage sporting activities within communities.