June 18, 2014 00:00
By Supinda na Mahachai
Focus now on 'smart classrooms'
THE EDUCATION MINISTRY has come up with four options that could be introduced to replace the One Tablet Per Child (OTPC) project.
While the ministry is expected to consult authorities and information-technology experts before choosing one of these options next Monday, its work panel disclosed yesterday that the “smart classroom” was the most likely choice.
The other options are smart schools, e-learning, and smart libraries, panel chairman Kamol Rodklai said.
Kamol did not go into details about the choices except for the smart classroom. “Each smart classroom will be equipped with quality tablets, available at between Bt8,000 and Bt9,000 apiece,” he said.
He said that if the Bt5.8-billion budget for the OTPC programme were diverted to the smart-classroom project, as many as 15,000 schools would get a smart classroom in the first year of the new project’s implementation.
“All schools in the country can get a smart classroom within two years,” he said.
Kamol, who is also a deputy secretary-general of the Office of the Basic Education Commission, said there were more than 30,000 schools in Thailand.
According to Education Ministry permanent secretary Suthasri Wong-samarn, more than half of the 700,000 teachers in the country are over 50, and older teachers generally are not very familiar with modern technology.
“It is agreed that perhaps we should find some other ways to use IT for teaching,” she said, referring to her meetings with Admiral Narong Pipattanasai, deputy chief of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), who oversees her ministry.
OTPC was the brainchild of the previous administration, led by the Pheu Thai Party.
Under the project, all students were supposed to be issued a tablet computer. During the first year of implementation, all Prathom 1 students got their tablets. In the second year, both Prathom 1 and Mathayom 1 students were to be issued the devices. After the junta seized power last month, Narong suggested OTPC should be reviewed.
Kamon suggested that it be scrapped because it was not cost-effective.
“Handing out tablets to every student meant the device was used just one or two hours a day,” he said. “Tablets for OTPC were cheap but they also came with low quality.”
So far, Kamol said, the NCPO has not decided yet on scrapping OTPC.
“The review was initiated by the ‘social psychology’ group of the NCPO. The final decision will depend on the NCPO,” he said.