The Government has spent over $500 million on essential tools for learning for pupils in Trinidad and Tobago over the last four years—$252.4 million on laptops and $250 million on textbooks.
This was revealed yesterday by Minister of Education Dr Tim Gopeesingh.
Responding to a question in the Senate filed by People’s National Movement (PNM) Senator Camille Robinson-Regis, Gopeesingh said to date the ministry had purchased 73,200 laptops at a cost of $252,435,665.49. He said total expenditure on the ecal (e-connect and learn) programme to date was $261,406,715.49. The Government also planned to spend $10 million to repair damaged laptops of secondary school pupils, he said.
Gopeesingh said this year the Government would be providing 18,500 laptops for pupils entering Form One and 1,500 laptops for teachers in primary schools for use in the scoring of pupils under the Continuous Assessment Programme.
“By September 2014, this People’s Partnership Government would have provided close to 92,000 to students in Forms One to Five,” he said.
Gopeesingh said since 2010 education has received the highest budgetary allocation among the ministries. He said 18 per cent of this country’s annual expenditure and six per cent of GDP on education, was spent on education, which was “way beyond” the allocations in developed countries such as the US, Canada and Great Britain.
Trinidad and Tobago was “avant garde” in respect of ICT (information and communications technology) in education. Additionally by 2015, this country would have achieved universal early childhood education. “The world has recognised Trinidad and Tobago as a leader. So recently the distinguished former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton, in an address at the IDB (Inter-American Development Bank), was very complimentary of the progress of our education system when she mentioned the seamless education occurring in Trinidad and Tobago,” he said.
Gopeesingh said “history was created” yesterday as the first “smart” classroom was established at Presentation College, Chaguanas. “We are now engaging in a pilot project with 20 smart classrooms in different schools—ten primary, ten secondary schools (two of the schools would be in Tobago)—and each school will have two classes (maths and English). We are looking at the implementation of interactive smart boards throughout the school system. But that would depend on the research coming out of the smart classroom,” he said.
He said Samsung had partnered with Telecommunications Services of Trinidad and Tobago for the use of its smart tablets.
He said also for the first time in the history of the country the award ceremony for the President’s Medals was held in Tobago, which pleased the Secretary of Education and the Chief Secretary. He also noted two medals were given to pupils who performed well at the CXC level, as well as to the first- and second-placed pupils in the Secondary Entrance Assessment.