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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 October 2007, 06:26 GMT 07:26 UK
Give laptops to pupils, MP urges
Laptop computer
New laptops costing around 200 are now available, says Adam Price
A Plaid Cymru MP has urged the assembly government to press ahead and give each primary school child in Wales a laptop.

A promise to pilot such a project was in the One Wales document which forms the basis of the coalition in Cardiff Bay formed by Labour and Plaid.

But Adam Price, the Plaid MP for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, wants the coalition to forego the pilot and introduce the scheme across Wales.

The laptop idea was a Plaid policy at the last assembly election.

Mr Price made his call in a column for Welsh language current affairs magazine Golwg.

He said that similar pilot schemes run in different parts of the world had already proved successful, so there was no need for Wales to have its own.

Adam Price
Giving a child a laptop computer would change a classroom from fact-learning factory to a creative library
Adam Price MP

The price of laptops had also decreased, he said and he estimated that a scheme would now cost 8m, rather than the cost estimated by Plaid during the assembly election of 20m.

"In the last month a computer has been launched which costs around 200," said Mr Price.

"This is a slimmed-down version with some of the functions found on a normal laptop taken away.

"The prices of laptops are continuing to fall. The cost of any scheme could fall to 4m or 5m by 2010.

"It would help teachers to change the nature of learning."

At the time of the election campaign, Plaid's pledge to offer free laptop computers to secondary school pupils was criticised as a "gimmick" by other parties.

Mr Price said the laptops should only be given to primary school pupils because there was more flexibility in the curriculum for that age group.

"Giving a child a laptop computer would change a classroom from fact-learning factory to a creative library," he said.

"Wales must embrace the technological age in order to invest in the education of its children."

Mr Price said he had not discussed the issue with Education Minister Jane Hutt since the One Wales document was written, but now wanted a public debate to open on the issue.

A Welsh Assembly Government spokeswoman said the extent of, and timescale for, a free laptop pilot scheme was being considered.

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