Eighty thousand laptop and tablet computers will be purchased under a project for equal access to school education during emergencies, the Education and Science Ministry said on Wednesday. The devices will be used during both in-person classes and online learning.
A public procurement procedure has been prepared for the purpose. A framework agreement will be signed, and the purchase of the laptops and the tablets is expected to begin in April. The process will unfold in stages. The technological renovation of school equipment will hopefully be completed by the end of the summer, Deputy Education and Science Minister Karina Angelieva said.
The project has a budget of 109,562,642 leva and will be implemented under Operational Programme Science and Education for Smart Growth, co-financed by the European Structural and Investment Funds through the REACT-EU programme.
Under the project, teachers will acquire digital skills and will learn about innovative teaching methods. Education mediators and students' parents will be taught how to work with digital devices and electronic education platforms, which will help make school students fully involved in the learning process. Technical means will be bought for students and teachers.
The project will cover 210,000 school students. In the next three years, all children who move from pre-school to school education will go through short training courses to prepare them for the option of online schooling, said Vladimir Stanchev, Head of Project Management and Implementation at the Education and Science Ministry. He cited data showing that 10 per cent of school students have experienced some sort of difficulties with online learning. According to Stanchev, 37,718 school students will receive additional synchronous training, and 140,000 will be provided with access to online schooling.
A project in support of inclusive education was also presented at the Education and Science Ministry offices on Wednesday. By order of the Education Minister, the project will cover 222 kindergartens and 432 schools up to primary level. Children with special needs, talented children, chronically ill kids and at-risk kids will receive additional assistance for personal development, said Greta Gancheva, Head of Inclusive Education at the Education and Science Ministry. Activities are also planned to prevent aggressive and violent behaviour in schools. Over 4,800 experts will be trained under the project, which will target 7,700 children.
The three-year project is worth 31 million leva. Just like the first one, it will be implemented under Operational Programme Science and Education for Smart Growth, co-financed by the European Structural and Investment Funds.