Given the COVID-19 imposed restrictions on schools, the government should have contemplated a One Laptop per Child initiative, rather than resurrecting its One Laptop per Family programme. This was suggested by Alliance for Change (AFC) Member of Parliament (MP), Catherine Hughes during her presentation to the National Assembly moments ago.
It was President Dr Irfaan Ali, who revealed earlier this month, that the US$10M from an Indian line of credit will be reprogrammed towards the recommencement of the One Laptop per Family initiative. The programme goes back to 2011, and was launched by then President Bharrat Jagdeo, who envisaged at the time, the ‘enhancing of lives’ for the beneficiaries of these devices.
Hughes said that given schoolchildren have been restricted to their homes, priority should be given to them so that they can continue learning virtually.
Yesterday, most students nationwide began the new school year with lessons being delivered through online classes, on-air educational programmes, and traditional workbooks. Several teachers, both in the public and private school systems are providing lessons virtually to their classes.
MP Hughes believes that there are challenges still being faced by poor families in accessing these lessons due to their inability to acquire an electronic device for their children. Therefore, she opined that the programme should be geared at meeting the needs of students.
“If you don’t have money in Guyana today, and you can’t pay for internet and your child does not have a device, your child’s learning and progress will not be able to proceed unhindered. If you come from a poor circumstance [and] your child does not have any of these connectivity or device, then you know your child will face hardships and flounder. This budget should have spoken a greater voice not to the One Laptop per Family of six years ago, but to the One Laptop per Child as is required in these times of COVID,” Hughes told the House.