350 students participating in computer tablet pilot project

Around 350 pupils are benefitting from the computer tablets pilot project which will last till March.

Education minister Evarist Bartolo said the emphasis of the project is
Education minister Evarist Bartolo said the emphasis of the project is "strictly educational" Photo Ray Attard
Education minister Evarist Bartolo said the emphasis of the project is "strictly educational" Video Ray Attard

During a visit to one of the 22 classrooms participating in the project education minister Evarist Bartolo said that the students were given the tablets in the past week and insisted that the project was "strictly educational."

He explained that unlike other countries, the emphasis was on the educational aspect and the interaction between the pupils and technology.

During the visit at the St Theresa College Msida primary, Bartolo said that in just a matter of years technology had revolutionised the transition of skills and knowledge and this required a new pedagogy.

In total around 350 students in Grades three, four and five in a number of state, church and independent schools were given a computer tablet and once the project is rolled out in October 2016, some 4,000 teachers and students in Grade Four will be given a tablet according to government's electoral pledge.

Bartolo added that in the coming weeks government will be signing an agreement with the Malta Union of Teachers over the training programmes which will precede the project’s implementation in 2016.

“We must ensure that before the roll out all teachers are familiar with the technology,” he said.

Asked whether the project will include secondary schools, Bartolo said that a decision had not yet been taken and a number of aspects, especially technological developments, had to be evaluated before deciding whether to expend the project beyond primary schools.

Currently the tablets are being leased from 13 companies and different software is being used to evaluate which is the best suited for students and teachers. 

Moreover, the pilot project will determine whether students will be allowed to take the tablets home and how long it would take for a complete transition to digital textbooks.

In a press statement, the government said that this and other initiatives will strengthen the education sector as well as being an investment in the country's future. The tablet project will offer students a cutting-edge education that will be their key to social mobility and a promising future, the statement read.