AFTER being stuck in a Miami warehouse for weeks owing to foreign-exchange issues, the digital devices ordered for students by the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) have started to arrive – slowly.
This was confirmed by TTUTA (TT Unified Teachers Association) Tobago officer Bradon Roberts on Tuesday.
The second term of the school year started on Monday, with online classes still the main mode of teaching.
Last September, the THA approved $7.8 million for around 4,000 devices.
At a media briefing in Scarborough in November, Secretary of Education Kelvin Charles had said at least 75 per cent of the devices were in Miam.
He said, “The company that won the bid (Memory Bank Computers Ltd) is awaiting foreign exchange in order to pay for these devices. Once that is done, then these devices would be shipped to us and we can then begin the process of distribution."
He said priority would be given to students who are receiving assistance from the Education Division.
In an interview with Newsday on Tuesday afternoon, Roberts said he had spoken with advisers on the topic a few hours before. While the advisers did not say when the devices began arriving, Roberts was told a little over 600 of the devices are already here.
“They are doing it incrementally to be able to have the US (invoice) amount cleared."He was told another 600-plus would arrive within two weeks.
"And by the end of the month, they will be coming in (again) in that amount.”
He said the priority right now is students in standards four and five, but he was told only around five standard five students are currently without devices, and that most form four and form five students also have devices.
Distribution has not started yet.
"They are also reassessing (numbers) since a lot of people would have gotten laptops during the Christmas period, either from other stakeholders or those who got them as Christmas gifts…So they have to look at what the numbers are like now.”
He said a meeting will be held on Janaury 19 to discuss the topic.
Newsday tried to contact Education Secretary Kelvin Charles but all calls and messages went unanswered.