Seventh graders in both public and private schools will soon be issued laptops under the Public School System's One-Laptop-Per Child project with the arrival of 1,150 brand new units.
Education Commissioner Rita A. Sablan, Ed.D, led school officials, guests, and Education Board members in announcing the good news to public school students during simple ceremonies at the Hopwood Junior High School library last Friday.
The PSS laptop project enters its third year this year.
The system first distributed over 5,000 laptops for junior and high school students in private and public schools in 2009.
Over a thousand more units were issued the following school year for seventh graders. This year, PSS is committed to distributing 1,150 units for junior high schools.
PSS federal programs officer Tim Thornburgh told Saipan Tribune that the laptops were purchased using a portion of the consolidated grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The shipment this year costs about $450,000 for 1,150 laptops costing $390 per unit.
Thornburgh said about 940 units will go to all 7th graders in public schools while around 150 will go to private schools.
The model of the new laptops is Acer Aspire One and features WiFi and anti-virus, among others. Students get to own the units after graduating from high school.
According to PSS E-Rate program coordinator Joe Torres, PSS continues to enforce the “agreement” with parents that in case of damage or loss, the parents will co-share in the repair and replacement of the unit.
To deter the potential loss of units from thieves, all units are labeled “Owned by PSS.”
“Over the years, we lost many laptops to thefts and we don't want that to continue to happen. We are working with DPS to recover many stolen laptops for our students,” Sablan said.
She said the laptops are intended to help students become more effective and efficient in their learning.
BOE chair Marylou Ada, during Friday's ceremony, encouraged students to take pride in their new laptops, which she said can become the students' “best friend” in their studies. “What PSS and the board are doing is to make sure all our students are up to par with every student in the world by having these laptops. It's free, it's yours, take care of it and use them wisely,” Ada said.
NMI Delegate Gregorio Kilili Sablan (Ind-MP), who was present at the ceremony, said that PSS is viewed at the national level as among “the best in the nation.”
“PSS is a source of pride for me,” he told the crowd, adding that the laptop project is the only one in the region.