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Thailand and China Agree on a US$70.6m Tablet Deal

Monday, March 26th, 2012

The Pheu Thai party of Thailand announced a “one student, one tablet” campaign policy during the country’s general elections last July. Now after winning the election, it is all set to fulfill its promise made during the election campaign, which will lead Thailand’s educational system into the next generation of education. This will be accomplished by boosting educational strategies “based on e-learning and the distribution of electronic books through the internet for the students of various grades.”

The Thai government is all set to mark a memorandum worth 2.2 billion baht (US$70.6 million) towards a deal with its Chinese counterparts in February of this year, said the Bangkok Post, to procure 900,000 tablet devices. High quality and functional tablets will be imported to Thailand to be used by school children to bolster their learning process.

According to sources in the Thailand government, the Foreign Affairs Ministry had put forward a proposition to the Chinese government ”to select one supplier of the Tablet device with requirements such as a seven inch screen with Wi-Fi enabled and storage capacity of 8–16 gigabytes. In choosing a tablet producer, the main yardstick under consideration was the capacity to produce a quality tablet from an internationally reputed brand with after-sale quality service for two years.”

The Bangkok post further reported news from the Office of the Basic Education Com mission, in that three Chinese manufactur ing companies – ZTE, Huawei and Lenovo – have been short-listed from an initial 17 applicants. At the time of distribution to students, after concessions, the cost of “each tablet will be 2,340 baht (US$75) which is lower than the original target price of 3,400 baht (US$109),” the report said. A total of 900,000 tablet devices for the forthcoming academic year are to be purchased by the Thai government, of which 800,000 are to be allocated to primary school students, with the remaining 100,000 to be distributed to higher grade students (Prathom 4). Apart from issuing the device, the government is taking all necessary measures to make this system a significant achievement.

The Basic Education Commission (OBEC) has designed the software for interactive teaching, with the e-content using animations for describing the content of the five subjects such as maths, science, Thai, English and social studies to be installed in each tablet.

According to officials, the Thailand government, on signing the memo of the deal with the Chinese government, will receive at least 1000 prototype Tablet devices for testing purposes, prior to the supply of the whole quantity. The additional budget as requited for buying the tablets would be reimbursed from the government’s fiscal budget apart from the approved amount of $US62 million. All the maintenance and service costs will be borne by the government. As Wi-Fi facilities are obligatory for tablets to run on, the Education Ministry, following discussions with the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, will install Wi-Fi for 34,000 schools.

The issuing of tablet devices to the school children is an enriching platform, which upgrades the current education system, and thus children will be able to grasp concepts better through audio visual effects with easy access to more detailed contents. To ensure safe and secure use of the tablets, the government plans to restrict tablet use only to schools and will not allow students to bring them home.

The Thai government’s pro-educational initiative will lay the foundation to further advanced education systems in the country’s future.

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