back to article Thai kids find free tablets hard to swallow as govt scheme hits trouble

Thailand’s ambitious One Tablet Per Child project appears to have gone slightly off the rails after reports emerged that 30 per cent of devices have broken down barely a year after the initiative was begun. The government-backed project aims to put a tablet device into the hands of all school children in a bid to reduce social …

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What is the point...

of distributing tablets? Their design confines the users to a consumer role. This can be useful, for sure (access to a world of literature and information). But the little extra cost to add a useful input interface (aka keyboard) might offer the 1% of creative minds the option to do something beyond consuming. Wouldn't that be the whole point of the exercise?

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Re: What is the point...

I'm not sure what elementary grade 1 is but I'm guessing these kids are around five so they're not about to tap out The Great Thai novel any time soon. This is education for the 100%. Get everyone into the habit of reading as early as possible and everyone benefits including the 1%.

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Re: What is the point...

You can put all the school textbooks on it rather than printing them out. The students will most likely still use pen and paper for creating things.

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Re: What is the point...

The point is that tablets offer the ability to be electronic books, drawing tables, calculators, audio and video players all in one place. The paper book is no longer $$$$/child. The ability to have one tool rather than 5 means space and (presumably) cost savings.

Unless they don't work. Or run on some obscure Android release binding the children to seven levels of hell.

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Buy Cheap...

Buy twice

Same old story, i must be psychic, cos i knew that would happen.

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Give them all playbooks. I am sure that BB would be willing to do a deal. They are robust and capable. Not latest spec but should do everything they want them to do.

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Anonymous Coward

Yeah give them yesterdays stuff that no-one else wants and no-one will be using in a couple of years.

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Unless you're a power user, most people could do 99% of what they need to do with any computer bought in the last ten years. At some point it's going to be the same situation for tablets too. Just how much horsepower do you need before you start focusing on what you're doing with it.

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"Yeah give them yesterdays stuff that no-one else wants and no-one will be using in a couple of years."

Odd thats what happened when I was at school

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I was using BBC Micros, Acorns and Amstrads when I should have been using Windows 2000 at School.

I remember the big fanfair when we got 2 PCs for the libary, to be used for 1 hour a week (on average). :P

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Anonymous Coward

Should have gone with iPads - probably cheaper in the long run / TCO.

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Childcatcher

Sounds like Intel is spreading FUD again

Last time it was to sabotage the AMD-powered OLPC, this time it's to sabotage the ARM-powered OTPC.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Sounds like Intel is spreading FUD again @Homer 1

"Sounds like Intel is spreading FUD again"

Really? Please explain how. Your "Last time" article and this seem to have no similarity.

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some background from someone who lives there and followed this from the day it was announced

This was one of the major populist campaign promises they made for the 2011 general elections.

"They" being the populist PT party, effectively run by the exiled convicted felon Thaksin Shinawatra.

Reminder: him and his party got barred, which didn't stop him from getting his brother in law elected as PM, and now his little sister. The latest rumours (vigorously denied) are that his son will enter politics to succeed him, sorry her. Never mind that, they are passing a budget to allow 2 trillion bhat (about 80 billion USD) of borrowing for infrastructure investment to be repaid over 50 years.. Anyone want to guess where 10% to 30% of this money is going to end up?

Other policies they put in place where "first time car buyer tax discount" - put that in the same manifesto as "solving horrendous congestion in Bangkok" for a laugh (TS said he was going to solve this within 6 months when he got elected... 8 years ago now), the "rice price pledging scheme" which basically buys/rewards the loyal north-eastern farmers' vote. (more legal way of buying vote than outright payoffs, though those are also well documented).

Now, corruption is endemic Thailand (and pretty much everywhere in SE Asia except Singapore), and from the onset it was pretty clear that the procurement of the tablet devices (the dodgy bidding process, use of intermediaries, etc), the allocation of the funds for training, etc. that it was going to be just another of these big projects where politicians are guaranteed some new luxury cars and condominiums before anything gets signed. First the tablets were meant for Prathom-1 students (7 year olds) then they decided to change that, ... And now they've cancelled them for the southern regions (those that do not vote for PT).

Another funny thing was when they had delays (backhanders not paid yet?) and had to spend some of the school funds buying the books that the tablets were meant to replace...

Summary: shambolic project designed to win votes and steal funds, not designed to improve education standards. And guess what, the educational standards will remain abysmal.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: some background from someone who lives there and followed this from the day it was announced

Correct post in its entirety totaam - you must live here or have reason to know these facts, as the western MSM seems incapable of reporting them. IMHO, the sooner TS and his army of family of leeches are removed the better for all Thais and residents of Thailand.

Is that the "photo-op sock-puppet" PM used as the eye catcher for the article?

No more proof is needed as to why she is the PM. Competence, experience and intelligence were certainly not criteria.

As for the tablets, well, the idea of providing students with a tablet as a delivery medium for texts is not by definition itself a bad one, though I might dispute that it is actually a good idea at this point in time. My lad didn't get one so I am unable to report first hand on how useful and reliable (or otherwise) the tablets are.

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Re: some background from someone who lives there and followed this from the day it was announced

Yes, it's technically correct. Yes, there was corruption, of course, This Is Thailand!

But come on! This has happened before under every Thai government for decades. So, for once, the government is rewarding the poor (as well of course themselves, that is a given) instead of just rewarding Bangkok.

And let's not pretend that TS is ruling secretively. It was on their election posters! And please point me to the alternative honest politicians who have only the country's best interests at heart that you would propose take over. Please remember Thailand is nominally a democracy so your proposed alternatives will need to be believable to the Thai electorate who rather like the "family of leeches".

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Anonymous Coward

Re: some background from someone who lives there and followed this from the day it was announced

That is a seriously illogical post and almost completely unrelated to anything, not least the post to which it purports to respond.

It's so broken I don't have time to deconstruct every fallacy in it.

Why is it "rewarding the poor" when national programs are implemented by PT and "rewarding Bangkok" when the other blokes do it?

Answer: Because it fits the stupid rhetoric of the PT apologists, of which you Mike Timbers, are clearly one.

Also, arguing that the other blokes are worse is intellectual bankruptcy of the first carat.

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Re: some background from someone who lives there and followed this from the day it was announced

> So, for once, the government is rewarding the poor (as well of course themselves, that is a given) instead of just rewarding Bangkok.

Sure, and what they're doing is not all bad. The massive 50 year loan is pretty scary and soon ripe for looting, but the intent (improving infrastructure) is a worthy goal.

> And let's not pretend that TS is ruling secretively.

No one is, I'm just giving some background for those who read this article.

> And please point me to the alternative honest politicians..

I don't need to name good politicians to point out that this lot really is terrible, do I?

What good would that do to el reg readers?

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Could be good for large classes?

My daughters school use tablets a lot. They have the ability to get all the smart board notes onto the device or download them from the internet.

It's not a UK school though.

This sort of thing could really help in large classes, especially if the tablet is connected to a smart board. No more peering from the back of the classroom?

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Facepalm

a bit of deja...?

Looks a similar story in the US..

http://news.slashdot.org/story/13/10/08/1952215/nc-school-district-recalls-its-amplify-tablets-after-10-break-in-under-a-month

P.

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What do you think the failure rate would be with a "nice" tablet?

A 70% survival rate for tablets handed out to a bunch of 7-year-olds with the expectation that they bring them to school every day?

Those things are going to be sat on, operated with hands covered in food grease or other filth, used as both weapons and shields, dropped, lost, and submerged in water.

I bet most "nice" tablets would have a hard time getting a 70% survival rate, being handled and dragged around by first graders all day every day for a school year...

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Re: What do you think the failure rate would be with a "nice" tablet?

Exactly. Probably best to buy the cheapest possible tablet, and expect to replace them frequently. It would also be less of a target for thieves than if you were handing out say iPads to every kid.

A thief could just walk up and grab a tablet from from a 7 year old if he had it out. At least with older kids the thief takes some risk that the kid might be able to fight back, and be fast enough to chase him down (though if he knows the school will replace it, he probably won't care)

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Re: What do you think the failure rate would be with a "nice" tablet?

Regrettably of the tablets I started the year with I have 0 of 4 remaining functional. Kids are hard on tablets. Wireless charging would help. We will try again next year.

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The fundamental issue with this generation of tablets for education is that the only thing that justifies their cost is that they "replace expensive textbooks", but textbooks are significantly more durable and take much longer to become outdated than a phone does to break in some way. The average iPhone user is on the upper end of the middle class and a young adult and even still, 25% have broken screens. Now you're giving devices that are bigger and more cheaply made to children with no means to fix them themselves. So you know at LEAST 25% will break, most likely many more. The only option at this point is to have free repairs, which promotes carelessness. Or leaving them broken, defeating the purpose of the program in the first place. This is before you even factor in devices getting stolen, which I'm sure happens quite a bit when thieves know that literally every student has a tablet in their bag. In a few years when you can get a $50 dual core tablet with a plastic screen, that's when this will become viable.

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