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Tablet deal fails, Thai ministry prepares textbooks

Publication Date : 24-04-2012


The Education Ministry of Thailand is now preparing for what could be called Plan B - to hand out textbooks to Prathom 1 (Grade 1) students, because it has become apparent computer tablets will not reach their hands for the coming semester.

A new term starts next month for school students across the country, but the government and its chosen Chinese supplier have failed to conclude a purchase contract.

Initially, the government planned to implement its much-publicised One Tablet Per Child (OTPC) scheme by handing close to one million tablets to all Prathom 1 students at the start of the upcoming semester.

"But we have a Plan B. We will rush to ensure that textbooks reach the students' hands before the new semester begins," Education Minister Suchart Tadathamrongvej said yesterday.

He said his ministry had a budget for textbook procurement.

It would also have to seek funds for the procurement of tablets for 500 selected teachers, scheduled to attend intensive training on the use of tablets so they can serve as trainers for other teachers.

Suchart said if a purchase contract was signed, the Chinese supplier would have to swiftly deliver 2,000 tablets to Thailand initially, as the devices would be needed for use in training.

"These 2,000 tablets are unlikely to reach Thailand in time, either," Suchart said.

In a related development, Srinakharinwirot University (SWU) president Asst Prof Dr Chalermchai Boonyaleepan said that a study on the use of tablets for learning in class would be concluded soon.

The Education Ministry had assigned the university to do this research.

Chalermchai said the findings would be done by yesterday(April 23), but the team would take some time to interpret the findings, which have shown both benefits and disadvantages of using tablets.

"We will release the findings in easy-to-understand language to the public in early May," Chalermchai said.


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