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One Tablet PC per Child: Education for All

Thailand Continues to Distribute Tablet PC Nationwide Hoping to Reduce Social Gap of Education Inequality and Increase Literacy by Analyzing Students’ Performance Data Recorded in the Tablet.

“One Tablet PC per Child”, one of the misperceived “populist policies,” has been launched by Prime Minister Yingluck’s government in 2012 in an attempt to improve some aspects in Thai education by addressing inequality and uneven standards of education quality. Today (16 Aug 2012, Dr. Chinnapat Bhumirat, Secretary General of Office of the Basic Education Commission, Ministry of Education, has visited Ban WangYai School in Kanchaburi to observe first-hand the project in action. The school is a home for many students of various nationalities in Thailand like Thai,Burmese and various ethnic groups living in bordering provinces. To date, the Ministry of Education has distributed tablet PCs to 129,632 children, numbering 800,000 grade-one students nationwide. “From this day on, all grade one children in Thailand will be able to access  the same quality of education nationwide, whether that child is an heir to a billionaire living in Bangkok or a daughter of a fisherman living in a village on an island in the southern part of Thailand,” said the Premier Yingluck Shinawatra.

Despite some criticism raised that tablet PCs would not only be an unfit remedy to Thailand’s hampered problems but also would be a cause to game addiction, attention disorder among children, and slow child’s brain development, PM Yingluck’s government has studied further to resolve such societal concerns.  Because the policy was originally designed to correspond with UNESCO's global direction in developing two out of three core initiatives for education for all: literacy and teacher shortage, the Premier has specifically set goals to improve grade-one children’s literacy rate as well as analyze students and teachers’performances. Students’ performances data recorded in each tablet PC will be used as tool to enable students to improve themselves horizontally and vertically. At the end of the day, grade one teachers will be able to understand their students’ strengths and weaknesses. A study by UNICEF divisionof policy and strategy, “RIGHT IN PRINCIPLE AND IN PRACTICE: A REVIEW OF THESOCIAL AND ECONOMIC RETURNS TO INVESTING IN CHILDREN stated, “however, under the new growth theory tradition, a one-off increase in the stock of human capital is associated with a permanent increase in the growth rate of productivity. The new growth theory approach is therefore considered endogenous, and growth can thus be affected by government policy rather than purely by exogenous impacts of technological change.” Other societal concerns regarding the child’s brain development and short attention disorders can be managed if the tablet PC is used strictly as an educational aide and with limited hourly use. In conclusion, with these various concerns addressed through recent studies, the implementation of the One Tablet PC for all school children should help build a more capable and skilled labor force of tomorrow.