No, the reason that the Saga Prefecture’s Education Committee cited when they decided to require incoming high school students to buy tablet PCs was not so that “everyone can look cool”, but because technological competence is becoming increasingly essential to almost all industries in Japan, more so all over the world. The controversial decision was handed down on September 3, with the committee also revealing that the incoming first-year high school students starting next year would have to shoulder the cost of the tablet PC purchase which they are certain would be over 50,000 yen (almost US$500).
The Saga Prefectural government has promised assistance of some kind, but has not made clear what or how much it would be. The education committee has also revealed that they will not be establishing a financial supplement system that looks into the economic state of each family. The Prefectural Education ICT Strategy Office, one of the driving forces of this controversial decision, stated that they “would like all students to purchase a tablet” in the same way that textbooks are required. The office further added that they are aware of the various financial circumstances in each family, and so they hoped that the cost of the tablets can be incorporated into already-existing systems of scholarships and other financial assistance programs.
The ICT Strategy Office has also decided on the operating system to be used on the tablets, choosing Microsoft’s tablet-ready Windows 8 as the core software for each device. The hardware manufacturer to provide the tablets, as well as the educational resources to be embedded on the tablet, will be decided by asking companies to bid at the program.
Online reaction to this new program has been decidedly negative, not because of the motivation behind it, but because of the hefty 50,000 yen cost that will be shouldered by the students and their families. The Saga Prefectural High School Teacher’s Union, with knowledge of these plans early on, demanded that the tablets be made free for families with financial difficulties and even for those students on part-time courses. But whatever the cost assistance efforts will be, Saga Prefecture’s education committee seems bent on pushing this project through starting next school year.
[via Japan Crush]
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