BANGKOK – Thailand’s Office of the Basic Education Commission has ordered more than 30,000 schools to recover more than a million tablet computers given to students to take home under the Pheu Thai government.
The junta’s social and psychological affairs unit scrapped the controversial “one tablet per child” policy initiated by Yingluck Shinawatra’s Pheu Thai government less than a month after the May 2014 coup.
The Basic Education Commission now wants those tablets back from the 30,815 schools under its jurisdiction, saying the Chinese-made iPad knockoffs given to grade 1 and grade 7 students would be inspected and used as classroom materials instead of distributed to students to take home.
Anusorn Fuchareon, deputy secretary-general of Basic Education Commission’s education committee, as saying future students would be permitted to use their own tablets or smartphones for educational purposes and the tablets purchased under the Yingluck scheme would be reserved for needy pupils.
The government saved 5.8 billion baht last year by ending the tablet program. The money was diverted to other programs, including a project to create “smart classrooms” in as many as 18,000 schools.
Apart from tablets, the government is also dropping plans to spend 1.2 billion baht to build computer rooms at Basic Education Commission schools. Mr Anusorn said a research study found the computer centers weren’t worth the investment.
Instead, the money will be used to expand the satellite-based Klaikangwon Palace distance-learning program to cover schools nationwide and provide resources for impoverished schools.
“The scheme to build computer rooms has continued for more than 10 years in more than 20,000 schools, costing more than 10 billion baht,” Mr Anusorn said. “A study found it’s not worth it and the kids only use them an hour a day.”