Every Thai student should have a tablet PC by May: Education Minister

(The Nation) – The government’s One Tablet PC per Child policy will be fully implemented by May, Education Minister Woravat Auapinyakul pledged yesterday.

“We will try to give tablet PCs to all students in primary and secondary school,” he said, adding that vocational students would also get the tablets.

He was speaking in response to reports that due to a limited budget, the tablets would first be handed out to Prathom 1 students only. “I am looking for additional funds,” he said.

In response to comments that the tablets might not be useful for some vocational subjects, Woravat said the devices would serve as a learning tool, giving students access to other materials.

The One Tablet PC Per Child policy was one of the many campaign promises made by the ruling Pheu Thai Party.

“We have set a goal and we will achieve it,” the education minister insisted.

While Woravat was keen to implement Pheu Thai’s election policies, he paid little attention to the New Breed of Teachers project launched by the previous government. “It’s not a main policy of the current government,” he said. “I will push for this government’s policies first.”

However, he said, he had no intention to scrap or suspend projects introduced by his predecessors and that he would look into the details of the project later.

“Today, the country must move to stay competitive in the international arena. We can’t pin all our hopes on a new-breed of teachers alone,” Woravat said.

Assoc Prof Piniti Ratananukul, deputy secretary-general of the Office of Higher Education Commission (Ohec), said the Thailand Education Deans Council was seeking clarity on the teacher project. “We will raise the issue with the education minister,” Piniti said.

According to him, Ohec is seeking Bt278.7 million (S$12 million) to operate the project in the next fiscal year but it has yet to hear from Woravat.

According to a previous Cabinet resolution, the New Breed of Teachers Project was to be implemented this year and run until 2015, expecting to produce 30,000 new-breed teachers for the country.

“I can explain the needs for the project,” Piniti added.