Cabinet unveils NT$20bn student tablet program

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RURAL-URBAN DIVIDE:
Premier Su Tseng-chang said the distribution of tablets, which should happen before September, would prioritize children in remote areas

  • By Lee Hsin-fang and Jonathan Chin / Staff reporter, with staff writer

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

Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) signed off on the Ministry of Education program after chairing the weekly Cabinet meeting, Executive Yuan spokesman Lo Ping-cheng (羅秉成) told a news conference after the meeting.

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

Photo courtesy of the Taipei City Department of Education

The Elementary and Junior-High Student Digital Learning Enhancement Plan would ensure that every student has a tablet and every classroom has Internet access, Su said.

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

The government would team up with the private sector to create digital education materials and would give subsidies to public schools to procure digital materials, he said.

Broadband Internet access would become available at public schools in remote areas so that children there would not be left out of reaping the educational benefits of technology, Su added.

The initiative, funded via the Cabinet’s Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program, would install 30,900 wireless access points in classrooms across the nation, the ministry said in a news release.

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

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

Teachers in urban areas would need to use the initiative’s stated criteria in distributing the tablets to students, it said.

Content creators would aim to make the materials more accessible to students and make better use of videos, games, virtual reality and virtual interaction, it added.

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