Thai students will likely have to wait longer than expected for their promised computer tablets, as the China-based provider can only produce around 1,000 per day, not 20,000 as it told Thai authorities previously, a source at the Education Ministry told The Nation yesterday.
Despite the expected delivery delay, training in use of the tablets by educational personnel, who will in turn act as trainers of educational supervisors, began yesterday in Bangkok.
Meanwhile, Srinakharinwirot University said it would release in early May the findings of a study on the benefits and disadvantages of using tablets in schools.
The source said the supplier, Shenzhen Scope Scientific Development, could produce 20,000 tablet chassis per day, but could only produce 1,000 completed units daily.
The Cabinet recently approved the purchase of 1 million tablet computers for elementary students - up from an initial 900,000. If the company has the capacity to produce only about 1,000 tablets a day, it will take up to 1,000 days - or two years and nine months - to finish manufacturing 1 million tablets.
Initially, the government planned to hand out the tablets to all Prathom 1 students at the start of the upcoming semester.
The source said the purchase contract had yet to be signed, as the company had backtracked on a previously agreed two-year warranty on its products because it claimed the battery could not last that long. It wanted to reduce the warranty of the battery to one year, while retaining a two-year warranty for the other parts.
One hundred personnel from the Office of the Basic Education Commission (Obec), Office of the Private Education Commission and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration began training at the Maxx Hotel Bangkok yesterday. The session ends Friday. They will train 549 educational supervisors from all provinces to instruct 54,900 Prathom 1 (Grade 1) teachers during the summer vacation. The tutorials will enable the teachers to instruct their pupils in using the tablets, said Anek Ratpiyapaporn, director of the Bureau of Technology for Teaching and Learning at Obec.
"As the company cannot produce the tablets ordered by the government now, we are using tablets of other brands that are normally used in Thailand. We use projectors to show them how to use the tablets. Over four days of training, they have to learn what tablets can do, how to use them, what content, applications and instructional media will be installed in them, and how to use tablets with the Internet, as well as computer law and ethics," Anek said.
"We cannot wait until the tablets from China arrive. Our supervisors and teachers have to be prepared. So, whenever the tablets come, they will be able to use them to teach in class. When the tablets arrive, we will retrain the 100 trainers in how to use tablets with the same specifications as those that will be distributed to students," he said.
After the 100 trainers are trained, they will be divided into five groups to train supervisors in different regions of the country. Later, each supervisor will train 100 Prathom 1 teachers. Around Bt200 million has been allocated for the training, Anek said.
Earlier, the bureau invested Bt300 million in creating 2,549 learning objects for elementary and secondary levels to be used with computers and tablets. Of those, 336 are for Prathom 1.
Anek said tablet use would increase schools' expenditures as it would increase electric bills.
Charging a tablet's battery consumed the same amount of electricity as running a light, he said.