Tablet PC Project Under Pressure: Thailand
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Posted 2012-01-23 05:43:35
Tablet project under pressure
Education Ministry has only 4 months to buy 470,000 computers to be given to Prathom-1 students in phase one of the policy
More than 400,000 tablets are to be delivered to Prathom 1 (Grade 1) students on May 23 in the first phase of the government's One Tablet PC per Child policy, a top official at the Education Ministry told The Nation recently.
"We need to deliver tens of thousands of tablets to Prathom 1 students in May, which is the month that the first semester of the 2012 academic starts. Prime Minister Yingluck [Shinawatra] has already announced in Parliament that the first phase would start with Prathom-1 students at pilot schools and the tablets would be given to them at that time," Sasithara Pichaichannarong, permanent secretary of the ministry said. She gave an exclusive interview to the Nation Group of publications during her visit to their offices on Friday.
Sasithara added that the government would expand the distribution to older students in its long-term plan.
"To be able to hand out up to 470,000 tablets on time, for which we have only about four months left, the Education Ministry will conclude next week how to purchase such a huge number of tablets," she said.
The ministry is in the process of considering the buying process amid time constraints. It is looking at two options - holding an auction in which private companies manufacturing tablets can compete, and discussing with China if Thailand can buy the tablets from China under a government-to-government contract.
"The PM is worried that the government will not be able to distribute the huge number of tablets on time. So, she has told the Foreign Ministry to discuss the issue with China."
"India is the other interesting partner with whom we could have an agreement for purchase of the tablets," Sasithara added.
Meanwhile, many tablet companies in Thailand have approached the ministry to present their products, she said.
Late last year, 17 companies met Woravat Auapinyakul, then Education Minister, to present their products and discuss the pricing. Lenovo (Thailand), the China-based computer maker, donated 600 tablets for free preliminary testing and for research on the impact of allowing the use of tablets on students at five selected big schools in different regions of the country.
About 62 per cent of the total 850,000 Prathom-1 students will be given the tablets, requiring a budget allocation of Bt1.6 billion. Each tablet will cost about Bt3,400 (Bt3,100 for hardware and Bt300 for software installation), with a capacity of 16GB. Teachers will keep the tablets at schools and allow them for use only in the class.
Schools without electricity or adequate facilities to support tablet use in classrooms (e.g., electrical outlets and televisions), or whose teachers are unable to make use of such technological tools, will not be eligible to receive the tablets. More than 2,000 schools do not have electricity.
Asked about worries in some quarters about whether economically priced tablets would have specifications good enough for use by the students, she replied: "Since the targeted students are only six years old, they do not need high-spec computers. Using just simple programs and applications and having fun during academic learning from the tablets are enough for them. They don't need ones with quick response and fast downloads from the Internet. Please do not compare your needs with those of children."
The permanent secretary said the content of five subjects - maths, science, Thai, English and social studies - would be installed in each tablet. She told the Office of the Basic Education Commission (Obec) to provide its e-content and interactive learning objects. It had to choose suitable ones from a total of more than 800 items.
"Due to time and budget constraints, we are unable to hire private companies with interactive teaching software to deal with the content," said Sasithara.
During preparation of the content, Obec made a presentation of its interactive teaching software to Woravat. The e-content of some of the five subjects, using cartoon animations to describe the content, and learning games were shown to him late last year.
Providing training to teachers to enable effective use of tablets in the class will be the next challenging task for the ministry before it undertakes distribution of the tablets.
-- The Nation 2012-01-23
Posted 2012-01-23 06:54:21
More than 2,000 schools don't have electricity?
Isn't that where the immediate priority lies?
I wonder how many don't have either a LAN or WiFi?
This project is unreal.
Posted 2012-01-23 07:43:30
My thoughts exactly - Supplying all schools with electricity should be the over riding priority - wonder of any schools are with out hygenic toliets or how many are without runing water. I pity the number of lost kids in this eductaion system.
Posted 2012-01-23 08:13:05
Towards the end of this article I could see just what a forward thinking idea this is for future classes, if Thaksin wasn't so tricky trying to win votes, I'd see the visionary side in this, but I'm guessing that when all is said and done, we'll look back on this as rather a waste of time and money, something that was fun in the classroom, had some learning benefit, but ultimately didn't make any significant difference to Thailand's under-educated children. 3,400 baht per student isn't really a lot of money to the education department, but it's not the real cost, once you've developed the software, bought the content and factored in maintanence, you can double that, which adds up to a lot of traditional books.
Posted 2012-01-23 08:35:27
Lets look at the practical implication of what they are taking about....."Education Ministry has only 4 months to buy 470,000 computers"
1. It appears no vendor has been identifed
2. It appears no finalised specification has been ageeed to
3. ME will conclude a meeting week.....therefore the 16 weeks they have indicated is actually only 15 weeks, there will not be ample time to determine who will get all the little brown envelopes.....never actually purchasing the tablets
4. Even by some miracle the manufacturing does get completed....they still have to transport them to Thailand....all in 15 weeks....
In a nutshell is all I can conclude is.........
I could think if many ways to improve education in Thailand with a budget of US$ 70 million rather than buying tablet computers
Dream one...The goverment has absolutely no intention of implementing this scheme, it as a ploy to "buy" votes
Lest we not forget how long it took from having the idea to build a new airport to actually building and "completing" it
Posted 2012-01-23 09:07:33
Total shock (excuse the pun) to me as well.
I thought the "every village electrified" program was completed by 2005 (source: Provincial Electrical Authority, PEA).
If electricity made it to every village, how did the schools get left out?
Posted 2012-01-23 09:43:11
I'll bet in everyone of those districts that have schools without electricity, the Or Bor Tor and Tambon Administration buildings will be the finest in the area.
Posted 2012-01-23 12:28:56
I didn't realise that the 1st phase of this scheme was to supply these tablets to 6 year olds.
I would have thought them to be more useful for Matthayom grade students (about 12 years old)
My 6 year old stepdaughter loves to play on the computer, mostly play tho she does do some educational stuff when I'm with her.
Posted 2012-01-23 12:55:30
Plus, the lady said: ""Due to time and budget constraints, we are unable to hire private companies with interactive teaching software to deal with the content," said Sasithara."
So instantly any possible benfit is massively reduced.
Plus, I wonder if anybody has thought of adding English language subtitles to the majority (or even all) of the content?
Just recently there was a lot said by the Education minister about improving English language skills. This will obviously need multiple appraoches, here's the perfect opportunity to building vocabulary, at least.
But I guess the answer would be "Due to time and budget constraints, we are unable to ......."
Posted 2012-01-23 13:39:27
Wow, arrange for the purchase, manufacture, software and delivery of 470,000 tablets in less than 4 months. Good luck with that.
Posted 2012-01-23 13:42:44
So... exactly what part of this vote-buying scheme has been sorted out?!
"Each tablet will cost about Bt3,400 (Bt3,100 for hardware and Bt300 for software installation), with a capacity of 16GB."
How can they know the cost when they haven't decided on a model, where it's coming from (and therefore, the procurement and distribution costs), who will make the software, or even how many they truly need (if some schools do not qualify)? These are just made up numbers.
"Schools without electricity or adequate facilities to support tablet use in classrooms... or whose teachers are unable to make use of such technological tools, will not be eligible to receive the tablets."
So... a big governmental acquisition plan, but with no defined end-user. Hmmm... sounds like there may be and opportunity for graft... but I could be wrong.
"Providing training to teachers to enable effective use of tablets in the class will be the next challenging task for the ministry before it undertakes distribution of the tablets."
Umm... cart before horse?
Edited by americaninbangkok, 2012-01-23 13:44:30.
Posted 2012-01-23 13:43:53
When the government (in England) first supplied computers to my school, it turned out I was the only teacher who owned and knew how to use them, so by default I became head of computing, naturally I had to write my own educational software also. There is now plenty of free educational software available on the Internet, one does not need to buy expensive commercial software.
Posted 2012-01-23 14:12:46
In a former life, I did Project Management and Implementation Management for a number of corporate, nationwide rollouts in the UK. So, with 4 months to go before rollout, they haven't even made headway on the procurement process??!! Ho, ho, ho, ha, ha, ha!
I was going to say that I'll guarantee this won't happen with that time left. However, here it WILL happen, but it'll end up being the usual dogs-dinner. Useless imbeciles.
Posted 2012-01-23 14:26:00
Working at a Thai primary school for a while made me understand how stupid the idea is, but wasn't it a promise of Yingluck's red shirt policy?
Prathom one kids are usually six years old, their command in Thai's pretty bad. Their English even worse. Our Thai teachers aren't very familiar with technology anyways. But which programs should the kids use to learn effective? Did they think about charging empty batteries?
Even with an experienced teacher who'd know how to work with such a wonderful tablet PC, made in India or China, it would never work out with 40 + kids in a class to use the same program.
You don't need to have a degree in Astra Physics to understand the problematic and stupidity.............
Posted 2012-01-23 14:47:42
You are rite You don't need to have a degree in Astra Physics to understand the problematic.
But a degree in stupidity is a big asset in laying out this idiotic program.
Posted 2012-01-23 15:01:39
There are lots of Chinese supplier willing to sell at 3,000 baht per tablet. However there is not much left for kick back at that price.
I suspect that's the reason why buyer are holding back.
Posted 2012-01-23 15:25:00
2000 Thai government schools without any electricity serving their facilities???
I was going to say "shocking." But then I reconsidered, and thought "surprising."
But then, having lived here for some years now, I finally concluded.... "sadly predictable."
Posted 2012-01-23 15:50:23
Since the targeted students are only six years old, they do not need computers AT ALL
Posted 2012-01-23 16:06:00
if they want information on procurement processes for large quantities of inexpensive PC products, they should talk with companies like Aldi in Germany. 4 months is a tight, but normal time-frame.
Posted 2012-01-23 16:11:48
I am still shocked at this, "More than 2,000 schools do not have electricity."
If the tablets are going to be left at the school, the teacher will be in charge of re-charging them? Presuming that all the tablets are used at pretty much the same time, won't they all need to be recharged at the same time? I can already see breakers being tripped once they take a wild shot on recharging a few dozen tablets at the same time.
The people in charge... what are they thinking about?
Posted 2012-01-23 16:20:04
Tablet PCs have been THE hot topic for the Ministry of Education since June 3rd., 2011. Any details on
- Tablet spec, OS, base programs
- educational programs
- infrastructure needed in school (apart from electricity)
- curriculum for e-learning for the kids
- (almost forgot) program to teach the teachers
Any one who knows which books weren't (wouldn't be?) printed because those would/will/might be available in e-form? Lots of money to be saved by not printing some predicted.
I would almost suggest to transfer some of the MoE to the drafters/implementors of the 'Water Managemet Master Plan'. Success guaranteed
Posted 2012-01-23 16:39:09
Me thinks If the tablets are left at school one would suspect they will end up for sale at the local market at the discount price of THB 2000 each
Posted 2012-01-23 17:13:39
Q: How many teachers are there that are able to make use of such technological tools.
A: Only private schools in Bangkok.
Also chocked about the 2000 schools.
Edited by PoorSucker, 2012-01-23 17:14:43.
Posted 2012-01-23 17:42:07
Bad toungs have reported that the NEW tablet PC's will come with an Indian English speaking super technology, which will replace all the "would like to be English teachers" in this hot country.
Finally he deal will be made on first of April, so enough time to sort all out..............
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