Education Minister Daryll Matthew says the government is still short of close to 1,000 laptops which were distributed to fifth former’s and not returned.
During the past two years of remote learning, which was brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, the government procured thousands of laptops which were presented to each secondary school teacher and student from first to fifth form at all government secondary schools.
The agreement between the school and the parents was that when the child completes fifth form or is no longer attending school, that device would be returned to the Board of Education which would then give the laptop to the incoming first former’s.
However since the reopening of school in September, the ministry says hundreds of laptops have not been returned and several parents of first former’s are complaining that their child is yet to receive the promised device.
“What has happened over the last school term and over the summer, is that we have not yet received almost 1,000 devices. And I listen to the scathing criticism that is leveled at the Board of Education, the Ministry of Education and I find this so unfair, because some of the same persons who are complaining that a child that they have in first form has not received a laptop, they have a child in fifth form that didn’t return one and that cannot be right,” Matthew stated.
He added that it disturbs him that there are persons who believe that the ministry of education should allow the children to keep the devices and purchase new one for the incoming first former’s.
“When I see persons saying let the children keep the laptop and buy some more, I say but this is your tax payers money. If the government were to go and say lets raise education levy by two per cent so that we can keep buying laptops every year, you know you will open a different can of worms.
We cannot agree that we will look out for all of our students, provide devices which we have done, you accept the device as a parent for your child, you sign to say yes I receive this device and I will return it upon completion of the school year, but at the end of the school year you simply say you not bringing it back,” the minister noted.
Matthew said he has instructed the Board of Education to formally put a notice in the public space, and provide a deadline for the return of the government property.
“And at the expiration of this deadline we will take any appropriate action that is required to have our devices returned, because we cannot continue to think in this me, my, I don’t care about anybody else, its all about me. We cannot continue as a society to think like that,” said the education boss.
The laptops were to be returned to the Board of Education by October 4.
The notice said failure to comply would result in the department taking legal action.