Wales: Give laptops to pupils, MP urges

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Fri Oct 26 14:09:52 UTC 2007

[image: BBC NEWS]
Give laptops to pupils, MP urges
*A Plaid Cymru MP has urged the assembly government to press ahead and give
each primary school child in Wales a laptop. *

A promise to pilot such a project was in the One Wales document which forms
the basis of the coalition in Cardiff Bay formed by Labour and Plaid. But
Adam Price, the Plaid MP for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, wants the
coalition to forego the pilot and introduce the scheme across Wales. The
laptop idea was a Plaid policy at the last assembly election. Mr Price made
his call in a column for Welsh language current affairs magazine Golwg. He
said that similar pilot schemes run in different parts of the world had
already proved successful, so there was no need for Wales to have its own.

   *Giving a child a laptop computer would change a classroom from
fact-learning factory to a creative library *
Adam Price MP

The price of laptops had also decreased, he said and he estimated that a
scheme would now cost £8m, rather than the cost estimated by Plaid during
the assembly election of £20m. "In the last month a computer has been
launched which costs around £200," said Mr Price. "This is a slimmed-down
version with some of the functions found on a normal laptop taken away. "The
prices of laptops are continuing to fall. The cost of any scheme could fall
to £4m or £5m by 2010.

"It would help teachers to change the nature of learning." At the time of
the election campaign, Plaid's pledge to offer free laptop computers to
secondary school pupils was criticised as a "gimmick" by other parties. Mr
Price said the laptops should only be given to primary school pupils because
there was more flexibility in the curriculum for that age group. "Giving a
child a laptop computer would change a classroom from fact-learning factory
to a creative library," he said.

"Wales must embrace the technological age in order to invest in the
education of its children." Mr Price said he had not discussed the issue
with Education Minister Jane Hutt since the One Wales document was written,
but now wanted a public debate to open on the issue.  A Welsh Assembly
Government spokeswoman said the extent of, and timescale for, a free laptop
pilot scheme was being considered.

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