Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Government's Laptop distribution to begin shortly under the OLPF programme

Authorities are continuing their verification and training exercises to start delivering computers under the One Laptop Per Family (OLPF) project during October. Labour Minister, Manzoor Nadir said that at least 17,000 remaining households are to be verified.
Some 13,000 persons applied as single parents and 3,000 as disabled persons or households with disabled persons. He said that of the 45,000 applicants, 27,000 will be receiving laptops in the first phase after verification and training are completed.
The two are being done to ensure little time is wasted between the arrival and distribution to eligible and qualified persons, he said. “We now have to cluster them around the training hubs and this is part of the volunteering so we need to look at the dispersion and identify a place where they can go for the training,” he added. Nadir, who has cabinet responsibility for the OLPF, explained that the verification process includes the cross-referencing of applicants with existing databases on single-parents, disabled, low-income households and students who received government subsidies to sit CXC exams.
The lowest the computers, including technical support and after sales service, could cost is US$6,858,000. The average life-span of a computer is said to be at least five years. The Labour Minister rejected suggestions in certain quarters that the OLPF is a campaign tool for general and regional elections constitutionally due by December 28. “This is not an election gimmick. This is about making a knowledge society. This is not about election because we would have given all 90,000 laptops and we would have just handed them out like if it is Christmas in October,” he said. After parliament automatically dissolves on September 27, the president will announce the election date and nomination day is automatically 30 days before.

Nadir said the idea of creating a knowledge-based society is several years old, dating back to when Guyanahad applied for a US$18 million loan from the Inter American Development Bank (IDB). The majority American-owned Guyana Telephone and Telegraph (GT&T) had taken steps to successfully block the financing on the grounds that the Information Communications Technology (ICT) project would have infringed upon its monopoly rights on national and international data transmission. Guyana this year allocated GUY$1.8 billion in the National Budget for the OLPF, he said, as part of efforts to make vulnerable families access better and stimulate greater community spirit of and volunteerism

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