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1,000 OLPF netbooks to be distributed tomorrow - 4,000 more during the week

Written by GINA
Tuesday, 08 November 2011 02:32
Source - Guyana Chronicle

The Surama Cultural Group performing at the PPP/C public meeting

WITH the first shipment of 5000 Haier Netbooks already in the country, 1,000 of the same batch are set to be distributed at a ceremony planned for the National Cultural Centre today at 13:00hrs.

President Bharrat Jagdeo, speaking at the President’s Youth Award Republic of Guyana graduation on Friday, indicated that the first 1,000 recipients will receive their laptops this week.

OLPF will be working across the other regions from tomorrow to distribute the remaining 4,000 laptops from the first batch which arrived last weekend. Another delivery of 10,000 laptops is due this week.

The Netbooks are being handed out under the One Laptop Per Family Programme (OLPF), a government initiative which will see citizens becoming proficient in the use of Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) as each household will be given a laptop and will be taught how to use the device.

President Bharrat Jagdeo had indicated that the initiative is part of government’s plan for the country to be taken into a very modernised era of development, using ICT as a sector to generate jobs, and as a tool for advancing productivity.

In light of the distribution, in excess of 40 ICT learning centres, commonly referred to as learning hubs, have been set up to train recipients in the use of the Netbooks.

The first shipment of Haier Netbooks, valued at more than US$1.4M, comes on the heels of a contract which was inked in September last between the Guyana Government and Chinese appliances manufacturer, Haier, to provide 27,000 Netbooks under the first phase of the OLPF project.

The project, launched in January, targets 90,000 households to be beneficiaries of laptops within two years. The project targets low-income families and vulnerable groups.

This first phase of distribution will see the priority group of single parents, differently-abled (persons with impairments, activity limitations and participation restrictions), and families whose incomes are below $50,000 per month, being recipients of Haier Netbooks.

According to the OLPF project office, a community service programme is planned to improve the quality of life for members of the community. It will see trainers attached to the ICT hubs working closely with the recipients of the laptops to offer the necessary technical assistance and guidance for the proficient use of the equipment.

Government, in its 2011 budget, allocated $1.8 billion for the effective roll-out of the project.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 08 November 2011 02:37 )
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Will community service to get laptops include doing PPP propaganda and election work?

November 9, 2011 | By KNews | Filed Under Letters

Dear Editor,

You can’t get one of those PPP election season handout laptops unless you attend training at an ICT Hub and perform 10 to 20 hours of community service. Nobody knows what this community service really is. The PPP is yet to explain it to us.

This laptop handout in the middle of the election is an election gimmick, exploitation of the psyche of deprivation amongst the poor and an attempt at election bribery of the Guyanese people with their own money.

The people of Guyana paid for these laptops. They are theirs. The PPP is not giving them anything. They are entitled to these laptops because their tax dollars paid for it. The PPP needs to tell us what is this community service? Is it attending PPP rallies, handing out PPP propaganda or engaging in activities that the PPP government will claim as its own success? Will that be part of the community service?

If supporters of an opposition stronghold have to build or fix something the PPP failed to build or fix in order to get their laptops, does the PPP claim it as their success when campaigning in that community?

Now that we know laptops will be handed out before elections, one has to ask β€œwhere will be PPP be handing out these laptops?” Will the laptop handout be used as a weapon to try to soften voters in opposition areas or to woo back voters in PPP traditional strongholds who are disenchanted with the ruling party?

These ICT Hubs are far and in between and scattered. Diamond, with tens of thousand of people, has one ICT Hub. Where are these Hubs? Are they in PPP stronghold areas? Are they located in the homes and businesses of PPP members? Given they are few and scattered, do you have to book and appointment to use a Hub?

Poor people and their children who can’t afford internet will have to do a lot of travelling to get to these hubs. When they do get there, it is no guarantee they will be able to access the internet since many more may show up before them and try to hog the available internet connections and make space a problem.

With many persons congregating at these ICT Hubs, the internet which is already notoriously slow in Guyana will come to a frustrating crawl.

My belief is that the lack of internet access and internet affordability is the real problem with this PPP one laptop masquerade. Kids will figure out these laptops in a few days and will want to access the web and its wealth of resources.

But they won’t be able to afford it because of a ridiculously overpriced and monopolised telecom and information technology sector the PPP has fostered by allowing GT&T to stand alone in bold inefficiency.

I won’t even delve into the impact of unreliable and expensive electricity on this programme. This laptop handout without any viable plan to improve internet access for the majority which cannot afford internet will only add an extra burden on already crushed families barely making ends meet on dwindling wages to find more money to pay for overpriced internet.

Who is organizing these community programmes for laptop recipients? Are they exclusively or mostly PPP members and supporters? Is it the local PPP committee in every community that decides the type, extent, nature and level of community service everyone who gets a laptop must perform, including non-PPP supporters?

The OLPF website states that if you don’t complete community service, you will need to explain why and to tell OLPF when you will complete the community service. What nonsense is this?
Will the PPP government dictate that those who are approved for laptops between now and Election Day must complete community service before Election Day? Will these laptops and ICT hubs block access to newspapers like Stabroek News and Kaieteur News?

There is no CD-ROM on these laptops so poor Guyanese cannot share information on CDs unless they purchase a portable CD-ROM. For those poor Guyanese who do not have a TV, a DVD drive should also have been included to watch movies on the laptop. Frankly, I think people should not uplift their laptops until after elections to avoid being potentially caught performing politically motivated and driven propaganda masked as community service.

These laptops are yours. The contract is already signed and the manufacturer is already making them. Even if the PPP leaves office, the next government has to honour the contract. A new government looking for political pull would be really stupid to not give people their laptops. So, every family will get its laptop.

Because it is your laptop paid for by your tax dollars, you can pick it up after election. I think you should.

M. Maxwell
Originally posted by TI:
Did the govt give laptops to AFC supporters too?

Just for fun I try to get hold of one a them laptop while I was there last week. It did'nt work out. You have to be connect to a die hard PPPite with connection to another two levels of die hard PPPites just like PNC times when they use to give out them hamper.

Of course there were rumer how some people collect fertilizer and the food hamper from two location but I am not sure its possible unless someone issue you two chits.
Originally posted by amral:
No cd Rom? What nonsense
I do not think that is necessary. Well...I will take that back. In guyana, they may have lots of data on CD.

I do not use them except to reduce them to isos and store them on other media. When I need to use them if they must exist in DVD or CD format I mount them on a virtual drive. I do that with all games.
Originally posted by amral:
So they should not promote it as a laptop
These are functional machines. I do not know how rugged they are for the hot climes but as basic machines go they will do in a pinch. None of us would want them as our primary machines unless we are running some flavor of Linux or windows xp. Vista and Windows 7 cripple that class of machines. A
The Netbooks are being handed out under the One Laptop Per Family Programme (OLPF), a government initiative which will see citizens becoming proficient in the use of Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) as each household will be given a laptop and will be taught how to use the device.

Use the device to do what? Can someone explain what can low-income families and vulnerable groups do with these netbooks?

No CD ROM, NO Internet connection.
Originally posted by Gupta:
Can someone explain what can a user do with these laptop?

No CD ROM, NO Internet connection
Creative people can do lots of things. My objection is they did not place these machines in a system ie the schools where they can be put to use in a self sustaining and nurturing culture. I do not know the compliment of software that came with them but if the government was prudent it could have hired staff to consolidate a compliment of useful learning tools that the student can use and package them on memory sticks.