“I always cheer up immensely if an attack is particularly wounding because I think, well, if they attack one personally, it means they have not a single political argument left.” —Margaret Thatcher
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Caribbean classroom of the future
T&T has been at the centre of some very significant developments in the regional education sector recently. The government has announced a partnership with global technology giant, Samsung Electronics to be the first market for its comprehensive suite of “educational products and solution packages.” The government also announced the creation of a “national knowledge network,” dubbed knowledge.tt, to promote free online learning in partnership with international online education powerhouses, Khan Academy and Coursera.
These initiative are part of a broader national strategy of investment in education and diversification of energy-based economy. The intention is certainly laudable. However, the approach and costs raise questions about the sustainability of the initiatives and their utility as a model for the wider Caribbean.
The Government boasts that over the past four years, it has provided more than 75,000 laptop computers to secondary school students, as well as approximately 4,000 to principals, teachers, and school supervisors, “while operating and maintaining computer labs in all secondary schools and over 300 primary schools, all of which are technically supported by appropriately trained ICT personnel.”
The ministry had purchased 73,200 laptops at a cost of more than US$38 million. Total expenditure on the e-connect and learn programme, to date, stands at US$39.8 million. At present, the education sector is the beneficiary of 8.0 per cent of T&T’s annual expenditure and six per cent of GDP. It is being held up as an international success story.