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Jan 29, 2008

Government formally introduces new laptop initiative

Story PictureThere’s no way to tell what may have influenced all those voters sampled in the latest poll, but one major election pledge by the P.U.P. involving free computers for students seems to have struck a chord with the children … and their parents. News Five’s Janelle Chanona reports on the formal introduction of the programme.

Janelle Chanona, Reporting
This morning standard six students of St. Mary’s Primary School participated in the first official demonstration of the People’s United Party’s one laptop, one child initiative.

Francis Fonseca, Minister of Education
“It’s not just about giving a child a laptop and having it sit there. It’s about making sure that the content, the programming on that laptop is relevant to our education system. That it is meeting the needs, the development needs of Belize, that is relevant to their own environment, own culture. So that laptop being provided to those students, comes fully loaded with important material, a digital dictionary, for example. We have textbooks on it, relevant textbooks like the P.S.E. Math book that Dr. Petters developed in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, the African and Mayan publications on the laptop and music, Belizean music, the great Watina music, for example, that Andy Palacio produced, our children should have that on their laptops so that they can always remember the great work of Andy Palacio.”

Delarai Sanchez
“These laptops however will not substitute for the reading of literature and other textbooks which stimulate creative thought and provocactive thinking. With time, students will have fun learning. When homework is given, no child will be able to give the excuse that they could not find the information in the school text…right students?”

Prime Minister Said Musa
“We will not be left behind. That’s the beautiful—the one, one of the few good things about globalization that we can transfer technology instantaneously. We are confident that you the children will fully utilise this technology to expand our education, to make sure that you prepare yourselves for life in Belize, you prepare yourselves to make Belize even better. There is a better world. We can all make it a better world.”

According to the P.U.P., the idea is to launch the programme in September following teacher training between February and May. And with only eight days left in campaign, Prime Minister Said Musa is confident his plans will go according to schedule.

Janelle Chanona
“What happens to the idea if your party doesn’t form the next government.”

Prime Minister Said Musa
“I believe any sensible government would want to carry out this program so I have no doubt that there are people in Belize who will push to make sure this program is carried out. I am still very comfortable being the underdog because the media, and everybody else, especially the arrogant opposition is predicting that they’ve won already. What we see happening in Belize today is a massive shift, a tremendous blue tide is coming and the results will be seen on February the seventh, believe me.”

Reporting for News Five, I am Janelle Chanona.

The estimated initial cost of the laptop initiative is seven million dollars.

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