BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – PLANS are still on-stream for every secondary school student in St. Kitts-Nevis to receive a free laptop by the commencement of the new school year in September.
Minister of Information Technology Hon. Glenn Phillip told SKNVibes that an implementation committee had been formed to iron out the last few details of the “One-to-One laptop project”, first announced last year by Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas.
Philip said the committee is working on “crucial” specifications concerning student use of the laptops, and highlighted that a monitoring system would be established to observe what sites were visited.
“We do not want to roll out the laptops without having some basic restrictions in terms of students not being able to look at pornographic or other dangerous sites,” he explained. “We are looking at the technical specs of the laptops and how we can receive assistance from other agencies who have conducted such programmes.”
“The committee is also weighing the pros and cons of having a max rollout of the laptops and giving them all at one time, as opposed to phasing the implementation and maybe giving it to fifth form students first to see how the process goes and if there are any major problems.”
Other items up for consideration are whether or not students will have to leave their laptops at school, or if they will be allowed to take them home at the end of the school day.
The Information Minister revealed that the project would be financed by a combination of government expenditure and private grants, but was unable to give a cost estimate because he was still waiting on word from computer manufacturers.
“The government has been approached by several donors, local and regional companies, and expatriates. We may also seek financing from a universal fund set up by the Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Authority (ECTEL). We would fill whatever difference there is.”
According to Phillip, “One-to-One” will jumpstart the creation of a technology-savvy population, thus enabling persons to develop skills suitable for their participation in the e-economy.
He promised that the laptops would be distributed to students in each class, regardless of ranking, and said each high school would consequently receive a free wireless internet connection.
“We want our students, our future workforce, to be computer-literate. We are not discriminating against anyone. There will be no restrictions on who gets laptops.
“We don’t have to sell only sun, sand and entertainment. The Federation can become a thriving centre for computer services. Our students should know how to use the internet beyond friendly sites like facebook.”