Posted: Wednesday, September 16, 2020. 12:33 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: Minister of Education Patrick Faber has announced that nearly double his initial target of 8 thousand tablet devices will be distributed to students in primary and secondary schools for the e-learning program – 15,500, at a cost of $7 million.
While the Government is fronting the money, it will be reimbursed by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), as well as a grant from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB). With the assistance of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the Government single-sourced from among three bids.
The contractor has been identified by Faber as a “long-time PUP financier” and owner of the Cellular World chain of electronics stores, but not by name in accordance with House rules.
The Logic 10.1-inch machines come with free, licensed pre-loaded Microsoft Office 365, a carrying case and headset to help with attending classes by Zoom and Microsoft Teams.
A further allocation for training of teachers is in the pipeline, and the Ministry is working with Digi/Belize Telemedia Limited to provide affordable Internet connections to students.
The Minister promised that there would be no politicization of the distribution, suggesting that even his own colleagues have been complaining that those most in need are not being tended to. Schools will be placed in charge, Faber said, but every family knows that the UDP is responsible.
Faber also rubbished the Opposition’s promises of making education free and digitized by saying no less than three PUP Ministers of Education – Said Musa, Francis Fonseca and Cordel Hyde – had failed to deliver in their time in office.
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