“The Ministry will focus on delivering more ICT devices that are not necessarily computers (such as tablets or smartphones as digital devices continue to converge) to students and teachers. In order to remain cost-efficient, the Ministry will innovate along several dimensions. Firstly, it will investigate acquiring fit-for-purpose devices. The Ministry has already made good progress in this area, for instance, through its use of thin-client computers (low-end computer terminals with limited functionality while relying on servers to provide computing power in order to reduce costs). It will also experiment with utilising new, less resource-intensive alternatives for ICT facilities compared to current computer labs, such as a lending library for notebooks and computers-on-wheels. This will become increasingly important as ICT becomes more mobile and the entire school becomes the computer lab.
In addition to assets and physical infrastructure, the Ministry will review the current procurement process to address existing concerns regarding the maintenance and the lifecycle cost of ICT devices, as well as the replacement policy of existing inventory of ICT devices. It will also consider new innovations in procurement such as direct-sourcing from manufacturers, rental agreements and private partnerships to drive down costs.
The target is to achieve a minimum ratio of one computer for every ten students. This will provide students with sufficient computers to be able to learn how to use ICT as well as take advantage of innovations to support broader learning.”
They have a long way to go with the target for 2020 being at most 10 students per computer but they see 1:1 as an eventual possibility. Of course, Moore’s Law and FLOSS are working for them to reduce costs and they already value thin clients. I have long held that computers are the best/fastest/cheapest means of creating, finding, modifying and presenting information and that they should be widely used in education. In Malaysia, IT is so scarce that only ~75% of schools have computer labs these days but the nation has a plan to promote FLOSS so their cost of acquiring IT should be about half what it would cost if they used that other OS.
Basic infrastructure like electricity and networks are also scarce. Combined with educating teachers in how to use IT these are a broad barrier to progress but one which can be overcome with the determination exhibited. They’ve identified that they are spending far too much on head-office rather than on the front lines, so there is hope that this is not just window-dressing. Malaysia is deploying Chromebooks and Google Apps.