Free tablets for Form 4 students. Your thoughts?
A few months ago, you have most probably thought that the government was just blabbering about this project of giving a tablet to each and every Form 4 student. This concerns more than 20,000 units to be distributed in some 157 secondary schools. According to the “Market Sounding Exercise” published on 10 January 2013, these devices should be of at least 8 inches touch screen and with a battery autonomy of minimum of 8 hours. Additionally, the ministry is also looking for Service Providers who need to provide internet access; a minimum of 130 connections per school. The aim of this exercise is to help in the preparation of the procurement for these devices and related services.
Why a tablet?
In the past, the government (as well as other political parties) mentioned their intention to offer a free laptop to every student. Finally, I don’t know how this laptop project got converted into a “tablet” project. Anyway, budget wise a tablet will definitely cost much less than a laptop.
Apart from the price, the tablet is definitely more portable, light-weight and can easily integrate in a classroom context. Points not to be ignored; tablets are much fragile and prone to thiefs as well as we do not have the necessary local expertise to provide technical support and after sales service. Finally, it is not a secret: Low cost tablets will definitely be of cheaper quality.
It does not surprise me that the choice for a tablet was made just to give a better impression about their vision.
Uses of a tablet
Ever since I received my Nexus 7 a few weeks ago, I literally fell in love with it. My wife will certainly agree with this; she got a serious competitor in here. Just to quote what I do with my tablet: Social networking, chatting with friends, watching YouTube movies, keeping up to date with latest news in the world, playing games and even blogging! Nowadays, I seldom switch on my desktop computer.
I won’t hide this fact; I frequently carry it to the toilet too. Afterall, why not?
And what about in a classroom?
This far, I talked about the tablet only for personal use (recreational use if you wish). But this project is about introducing the tablet in schools for Form 4 students (15-16 years old).
The objectives of the government is to, I quote:
- An improved pass rate of students at Cambridge SC/GCE ‘O’ Level through a diversification of pedagogy making use of multimedia tools.
- Increase in completion rate of first cycle of Secondary Education and thereby an increase in the transition rate to upper Secondary Education and ultimately to higher education and further training.
- Better preparedness of students and Educators for 21st Century Skills
As far as I understood, they will be preparing tailored programmes as well as educational materials with the collaboration of MIE to improve and help the teaching process at this level.
You remember, MIE? Their educational channel which most students just ignore.
Good. Enough said.
I truly disagree with the government on this project. Tablets handed freely to Form 4 students will neither increase the level of education nor the quality. I can already see MOST students using the tablets for their own leisure (Like I do), not for educational purposes if ever strict rules and software modifications are not made.
The government said that they will ensure that there’s no abuse when the device is used in and out of school premises. What do they mean by “Abuse”? Watching movies, streaming videos, chatting or updating your Facebook: Do these fall in this category?
At one instance, some talked about doing presentations and school projects with the tablet. How damn are they going to do a presentation on an 8 inch tablet in a classroom? And school projects? lol.
Instead of wasting the population’s money on this far-fetched vision, the government should have :
- Improved existing facilities in colleges
- Extend opening hours of computer labs
- Provide more computers (in working conditions of course)
- Allow computer labs to be used by all, not only Computer students
- Provide free internet access for all in school premises (Use existing software to block forbidden content)
- Give better incentives and facilities for parents to purchase cheaper laptops or desktop computers.
- Decrease price of internet connection at home (The announced 256kbps internet connectivity with a limit of 2GB for Rs200/month is a joke. I might come on this in a future post)
- AND ABOVE ALL, end these tuitions and that rat race in our education system!!!
Bref, this list is not exhaustive.
If I was a Form 4 student reading this article, I would be definitely cursing the author because what probably really matters is that the government is playing Santa Claus. There are so many questions about this project, its viability and efficiency as such. Fortunately, this project is at a very early stage but I truly fear that we might soon have more tablets than youngsters with a good level of education and a white collar job.
I now invite you to express yourselves on this topic. Thank you for reading