Cabinet unveils NT $ 20 billion student tablet program

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RURAL-URBAN FRACTURE:
Prime Minister Su Tseng-chang said the distribution of tablets, which is expected to take place before September, will prioritize children in remote areas.

  • By Lee Hsin-fang and Jonathan Chin / Journalist, with Editor-in-Chief

The Executive Yuan yesterday unveiled a NT $ 20 billion (US $ 719.4 million) digital education initiative that would purchase 61,000 tablets for elementary and secondary school students over the next four years.

Prime Minister Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) approved the program of the Ministry of Education after chairing the weekly cabinet meeting, Executive Yuan spokesman Lo Ping-cheng (羅秉成) said at a press conference at the end of the meeting.

Lo quoted Su as telling the meeting that the COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the importance of distance learning and that children from disadvantaged families are underserved by digital infrastructure.

Photo courtesy of Taipei City Ministry of Education

The plan to improve digital learning for elementary and junior high school students would ensure that every student has a tablet and every class has access to the internet, Su said.

Distributing tablets would prioritize children in remote areas, Su said, adding that the central government would fully fund the program, which would be implemented by September next year.

The government will partner with the private sector to create digital educational materials and provide grants to public schools to procure digital materials, he said.

High-speed internet access would become available in public schools in remote areas so that children are not excluded from the educational benefits of technology, Su added.

The initiative, funded through the Cabinet’s Forward-Looking Infrastructure Development Program, would install 30,900 wireless access points in classrooms across the country, the ministry said in a press release.

The tablets, which would be distributed with study materials and apps preinstalled, would add to the 20,700 educational mobile devices distributed in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, the ministry said.

Children in remote areas would be the first to receive tablets, while the tablet-to-student ratio would be 1: 6 in the rest of the country, he added.

Teachers in urban areas should use the criteria set out by the initiative to distribute the tablets to students, he said.

Content creators are said to aim to make material more accessible to students and make better use of videos, games, virtual reality and virtual interaction, he added.

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