IT companies support ministry's tablet initiative in schools

IT companies support ministry's tablet initiative in schools

The Education Ministry announced a scheme that provides every teacher and student with a tablet for learning. Tawatchai Kemgumnerd
The Education Ministry announced a scheme that provides every teacher and student with a tablet for learning. Tawatchai Kemgumnerd

IT firms backed the Education Ministry's plan to provide all students and teachers nationwide with a tablet to promote equal opportunity in education, while suggesting an appropriate strategy regarding device specifications, suitable courseware and the most suitable skills for students.

The scheme is part of the ministry's goal to promote "good learning, with happiness".

The ministry is expected to distribute the devices to secondary schools initially.

The "one tablet per child" programme was initiated by the Yingluck Shinawatra administration in 2011.

Tablets were distributed to 860,000 prathom 1 (grade 1) students starting in mid-2012.

Nitipat Praweenwongwuthi, marketing director of Acer Computer, said there have been three waves related to this initiative.

During the Yingluck administration, questions were raised regarding the device specifications as well as lack of content, while the teachers and students may have been unprepared to learn via tablets, he said.

The second wave happened during the pandemic, when it was mandatory for students to learn remotely. During this period, students became more accustomed to learning and doing their homework online using a computer, said Mr Nitipat.

He called this new scheme the third wave and suggested the ministry consider the device specifications to ensure they are suitable for the usage expected from the students and teachers.

Different device specifications can serve varying purposes and uses, while supporting a variety of online and offline content, said Mr Nitipat.

The devices for teachers should have higher specifications than those for students, he said.

Mr Nitipat said it is essential for policymakers to first determine what digital skills they want students to learn to become part of a skilled workforce.

For example, the scheme may want students to learn the skills required to develop games and animation, or e-sport skills, he said.

Takon Niyomthai, head of IT business development at Com7, a SET-listed IT retail chain, said the timing is appropriate based on several favourable factors, including good prices for devices, the availability of a high-speed internet network, and user familiarity with digital technology.

Mr Takon said teachers may require a larger screen and better specifications than students.

If the ministry has a limited budget, distribution should prioritise students who cannot afford such devices, he said.

An IT veteran who requested anonymity said the education minister should focus on providing teachers with digital skills initially through training, emphasising the development of digital courseware.

"A device is not a silver bullet," said the source.

"Learning using a device requires a complete ecosystem, including students, teachers, parents and curriculum."

Students should be taught digital literacy to protect them from hazards on the internet, including fake news, fraud and cyber-bullying, said the source.

In developed countries, the source noted schools craft classes that inspire and build children's skills in creativity and design by using complementary devices to support their learning.

Suphachai Chearavanont, chairman of the Digital Council of Thailand, said earlier to upgrade the country, all children must be given a computer to access knowledge.

David Li, chief executive of Huawei Technologies (Thailand) Co, said the company is dedicated to promoting digital inclusion through long-term, systematic efforts in a partner ecosystem, including accessible infrastructure, digital applications including remote education, and consistent skills training through digital projects, as well as training projects specifically for girls.

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