Sun, Jul 24, 2016 - Page 3 News List

DPP city councilor slams student tablet proposal

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

The Taipei City Government’s Department of Education should terminate a project to buy students tablet computers and put the money to better use, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City Councilor Wang Wei-chung (王威中) said yesterday.

The project, proposed by Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), aims to buy tablets for all students from elementary to senior-high school levels, so that they can use the device to view the “Taipei CooC-Cloud,” an online database containing learning materials and e-books.

Ko in a meeting with teachers earlier this month sparked controversy when he underlined the importance of digitization.

Ko said that the ability to use mobile devices is a basic skill for all people and that the government should issue tablets to children when they are two years old.

The department said it has picked one senior-high school and three elementary schools for the project’s trial, for which it has purchased 1,890 tablets.

However, Wang said there are about 300,000 students receiving primary and secondary education in Taipei, which means that the city would need to spend NT$900 million (US$28.1 million) on tablets, assuming that the department purchases entry-level models for about NT$3,000 each.

The city used to subsidize elementary and junior-high school students one meal per week, which cost NT$30 million per year. The money needed to buy the tablets could buy students lunch every day for four years, Wang said.

It is pointless to buy students tablets, as students can view the database at home using a computer, Wang said, adding that if teachers are worried about students not studying at home they could issue assignments that are due the next day.

If teachers need to show students materials in class, they can project it onto a screen, he said.

Furthermore, most schools are averse to the use of tablets in class, as they are very addictive and could distract students from their work, Wang said.

He said that being able to use a tablet cannot be considered a useful skill, because by the time students graduate and start looking for jobs, tablets will likely have been made obsolete.

Wang said that the procurement plan is reckless.

“I worry that at the end of the day, the policy will only benefit tablet manufacturers,” he said.

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